Glenn Branca Lesson No.1

Glenn Branca Lesson No.1
It’s a tribute to the power of popular culture, in this case the whole punk rock/new wave phenomena, that it makes people in the art music field excited about the possibilities of connecting the dots. In the case of Glenn Branca the dots marked out the territories occupied by the sound of electric guitars and drums, minimalist and serial composition and general rock histrionics. Lesson No. 1 is a CD of music created and performed in the early ’80s featuring, among others, Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) and keyboardist Anthony Coleman. It pretty much sets the stage for his later works and has the added excitement of a DIY sound that puts it in the same sonic bracket as early punk recordings. This release is an amazing document that places bands as diverse as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the Sex Pistols into context with Steve Reich and Balinese Gamelan music both in sound and in composition/performance. And when the massed guitars start going into the opening riff from "Pretty Vacant” in the middle of the title track, well, you just have to smile and/or pogo about. In addition to the music tracks, there’s a Quicktime video of a live performance of "Symphony # 5” in which Branca conducts like a crack-fuelled Leonard Bernstein. Highly recommended and not to be missed. (Acute)