Monday, January 31, 2011
The Wayback Machine: Glenn Branca and his Noise Orchestra
Noise. Some people hear it and it makes them feel disjointed, annoyed and down right uncomfortable. For others noise does the exact opposite they find melody and harmony in the chaos and disonance and revel in it. Personally I can't get enough, my first Sonic Youth concert was somewhat of a religious experience(if i ever had one). Noise rock first really started to make its roots in the 70's and 80's, and with it's proto-roots in the 60's with acts such as "The Velvet Underground" and the Avant Garde composer John Cage (who is a total MO fyi). In the 80's bands like Sonic Youth really set the bar and perfected free form noise as they called it but they weren't the first to kick ass with noise. Before SY though and setting the bar rather high might I add was Composer Glenn Branca.
Glenn Branca made his name first on the NYC music scene back in the late 70's as part of several bands. It really wasn't until the the 80's though that he made his truly groundbreaking works "Lesson No.1" and "The Ascension". Both of these works were highly influential to modern music and the indie scene of 90's, and 00's especially.
The two records consisted of a few arrangements each of mild length with the exception of the Ascension whch clocks in at 13 minutes. On these two Glenn assembles an orchestra of about 4-5 guitar players(which included Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth) with one or two drum players. Branca here develops his signature style: use of repetition, feedback and of course droning which is really just too good on this album at times. Branca employs the use of alternative guitar tunings that he made himself to achieve his specific sound, much like that of his followers such as: SY, Liars, My bloody Valentine the list goes on.....
My favorite songs or arrangements as I should call them are "Lesson No.2" and "The Ascension". "Lesson No.2" made it on to my workout mix and hasnt left in months. It starts off with the thick churn of the guitar, yes it sounds like a churn, followed by a two punch of a drum that sounds as if its descending. I can only describe what follows as though it like someone's body having a breakdown walking down the street and dissolving into black, its breathtaking. "The Ascension" is much different it glitters and builds sounding of cold steel, then transforms into a warm glow that swallows the listener. Then it changes stopping and starting each time beaming back harder then the last .Truly Truly amazing stuff. And too boot it features one of my favorite album covers as well.
I leave you my favorite tracks by Glenn Branca and his ultra bad ass rock orchestra.