Album Review: Bruce Licher — Exploratorium
Bruce Licher is guitarist in post-punk band Savage Republic; that L.A.-based group has flown well under the commercial radar. But they came to my attention years ago when I read about the band in Richie Unterberger’s book. Licher’s solo work is even more atmospheric, as exemplified on Exploratorium. The three-track collection was originally released in an extremely limited edition on mini CD-r (remember those?) in 2006. And the material itself is even older, having been committed to four-track cassette in 1997.
“Peak” has a sinister yet contemplative character redolent of Tangerine Dream, or Neu! without the motorik beat. “Going Home” has a more cinematic quality, with icy synth textures and glacial yet subtly pulsing beat. “The Penstemon Field” is hypnotic and reminiscent of Glenn Branca.
This reissue expands the original, nearly doubling its run time with a 26-minute bonus track, “Number 09.” Clattering, electronic bursts of noise and tape fiddling introduce the epic track. Licher’s method seems to be to set up a sequence and then tweak its character at random intervals (i.e. when the spirit moves him). It’s definitely a musique concréte piece, as the subtle White Album reference of its title hints. “Number 09” stands in stark contrast to the original three tracks, but remains a fascinating (if grating) listening experience. Certainly not for all tastes, it’s worthwhile for the adventurous and/or industrially-inclined.
About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.