Glenn Branca , The Ascension: Classic or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I say it's one of the greatest records of the eighties. But if someone made a record like this today, it would be extremely boring. Considering instrinsic values, though, it is a masterpiece of avant-rock. I don't know if it is a rock album per se, but it is the pinnacle of what it is and carries significant historical value if you are that kind of a nerd. Plus, the cover artwork is great.

Subthread (if you would indulge): The Ascension vs. No New York

Star Hustler, Thursday, 8 January 2004 20:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I like his symphony no.6 better. or is it no.3? one of those. i think it's 6. the devil choir at the gates of heaven one. that thing rocks.and i like the 8 eyed spy record better than no new york. or maybe even the first teenage jesus thing. i like the star hustler theme too. it's by Tomita. And i'm not ashamed to know that!

N.P.-Hampton Hawes-Live At The Monmartre

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:09 (sixteen years ago) link

I d/l this a few months back and it just bored me from the one listen I gave it. the dynamics aren't that great and it really needs vocals.

No new york isn't that great either if you listen to what the all the particpants went on to release (well, maybe apart from james chance).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:11 (sixteen years ago) link

scott- is the 'teenage jesus thing' the Cd called everything cause that's a cracking record. and 8 eyed spy are good, so is the first lydia lunch solo rec.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:12 (sixteen years ago) link

The Acute CD is not the same as the 99 Records LP. They are mixed differently. The vinyl Ascension is akin to the CD Marquee Moon and the actual LP.

Star Hustler, Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:16 (sixteen years ago) link

no, i meant the first e.p. or maybe the second one. i can't remember. i used to have it a million years ago. i'd have to look it up. yeah, i really dig lydia up until, um, i dunno, 1313? that's the last record i remember liking, but mostly cuz of The Weirdos backing her up. that's a great doom-psych record.I bought that 8 eyed spy record for a dollar at the mall in swansea, mass when i was 16 and it rocked me like a hurricane.(that woulda been 1984-i don't know why the hell they had it, but i'm glad they did)

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:18 (sixteen years ago) link

um, that last post was to julio. re:teenage jesus

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:19 (sixteen years ago) link

how is it akin to marquee moon (the television rec)?

x-post: actually I think I have the live 8-eyed spy record but its a great gig.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:19 (sixteen years ago) link

sorry i mean 8 eyed spy 'live' record.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:20 (sixteen years ago) link

The vinyl Marquee Moon is not the same as the CD.
The vinyl Ascension is not the same as the CD.


Star Hustler, Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:23 (sixteen years ago) link

my favorite is the third symphony, 'gloria'. closer to la monte young than anything in rock, when the drums finally come in it's more at the service of the overtones than the metronome. the sixth symphony is like a refined version of 'ascension'. the second is very abstract, collaboration with z'ev, industrial percussionscape.

I dragged 'mysteries' (#'s 8 & 10 on one disc) off the shelf for the first time in years a few months ago and they blew me away. searingly passionate and intense.

never warmed to 'ascension' myself but it's the most sonic youthy maybe (along with the first)? I should listen to it again.

(Jon L), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:24 (sixteen years ago) link

amg is no help. they only list the teenage jesus cd. anyway, i think it was the first e.p. i bought that thing at my local library's book sale! when i was, like, 13 or something. along with some buzzcocks, human switchboard and a lot of other stuff that flipped my little lid. the one 8 eyed spy record is half live/half studio. but i think they had a live tape too. mebbe a roir one. i know lydia had a roir tape, no? queen of siam, i gotta dig that out!

N.P.- Charles Mingus-Mingus Dynasty(original pristine columbia stereo vinyl-and i'm not ashamed to say that it sounds like a wonderful dream)

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:33 (sixteen years ago) link

I second the recommendations for #3, and point out what should be obvious but perhaps some might not have tried, which is that these recordings should be played LOUD for the best effect -- after all, it's not just repetitive riffing going on in his music, the combinations are designed to bring out all sorts of harmonics and overtones, best discerned and experienced at high volume (same recommendation, for different reasons, holds true for most symphonic composers -- Beethoven, Scelsi, Wagner, Ligeti, Penderecki, Dillon, etc.).

Nom De Plume (Nom De Plume), Thursday, 8 January 2004 21:49 (sixteen years ago) link

yes needs to be loud. and played on speakers, not headphones. or uh laptop speakers. it's structurally repetitive but there's a lot of information contained in the upper registers.

also shudder to think about what mp3 compression is doing to this music.

(Jon L), Thursday, 8 January 2004 22:00 (sixteen years ago) link

I say it's one of the greatest records of the eighties. But if someone made a record like this today, it would be extremely boring.


(Don't get me wrong, "The Ascension" is a fucking phenomenol record, but many have been trying to make that record for over two decades with only occasional spurts of close success here and there)

donut bitch (donut), Thursday, 8 January 2004 22:02 (sixteen years ago) link

My favorites are 6, 8, and 10, and I got the chance to play 8 and 10 at a couple shows about nine years ago. The overtones and resonant frequencies while standing amongst all those guitars make quite an experience in sensory saturation.

But for the practicing DJ, the Ascension is definitely the record to drag out -- oops, once you've overplayed The Static "My Relationship" 7" at a regular gig, anyway. Volume is definitely part of this music's structure in any case.

I wouldn't compare the Ascension to Television or Teenage Jesus, because it isn't pop music. Compare those two to VU -- and they're an improvement! "Needs vocals" is a hiliarous comment along the lines of "I don't like the taste of beer."

The MP3 comment is too OTM, especially since most of these symphonies only survive as mulched walkman recordings anyway. Branca needs to hook up with one of these European lunatics working on a 14-dimensional sound system and make some meticulous proclamations.

Saw Sunn the other day -- they've stumbled into similar dizzy territory.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Thursday, 8 January 2004 22:57 (sixteen years ago) link

The Ascension's even better than UT - Griller.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:13 (sixteen years ago) link

I wouldn't compare the Ascension to Television or Teenage Jesus

we weren't comparing ascension to teenage jesus, i just said that i like the 8 eyed spy record better than the no new york album and things progressed from there.

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:22 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm all teary eyed.

I don't know the background of how Marquee Moon was mixed. The Ascension was aggressively mixed by Weasel Walter from the same CD data that's on the earlier CD release(both the Ascension and Lesson Number 1 were released by an Italian label in the mid 90s, but got little notice or distribution here, or elsewhere.) So it's not a different mix, per se, but a remaster.

With the Theoretical Girls material, on one hand the quality was rough, but a master LP was prepared in the 80s, all mixed down. However, we were able to find the original 4 track tapes and mix them anew, with Jeffrey Lohn's full cooperation. I find this cool because if you ever heard the original mix they did of Lovin in the Red, the organ is completely burried, but when I did a new mix 2 years ago, I thought the organ should be louder. This taking into consideration people's changing tastes regarding organ, or perhaps my own personal preference. U.S. Millie is also a different mix then the 7" or what's on the Roir NY Single's Scene compilation.

Regarding the MP3s, that's really no way to judge any record, especially not this one. It was a big deal that they were able to get into the Power Station and record the Ascension the way they did, but even considering that, according to Lee Ranaldo's liner notes, they were relatively dissatisfied with the results. They felt the music had to be heard live, the sounds crashing into each other through the air. The Ascension is to close-mic'd to clean. It still sounds fantastic though.

Anyway, we're just finishing our other Branca collection. This time we've let Weasel Walter loose on Lesson No. 1 and it's B-side Dissonance, and added Music from Bad Smells, a cool piece composed for Twyla Tharp, w/ Lee and Thurston. We're also adding, for kicks and giggles, a video of Symphony Number 5! Try downloading that!(oh damn, probably shouldn't have said that, it's like a challenge. If someone from this board gets the CD and puts the vid up on soulseek or limewire or whatever, I'm personally coming to your house and raiding your fridge.) Also, Alan Licht wrote some great liners.

In other Acute news...the essential Metal Urbain collection comes out next week! And will soon be followed by Dr. Mix and the Remix and the Metal Boys. All remastered, all featuring tons of unreleased goodies etc.

We have other stuff in planning stages. Any other suggestions for favorite lost and/or out of print records? Feel free to discuss or hit me off list.



Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:35 (sixteen years ago) link

I think the comparison to Television was brought up in the context of how it was technical mixed/mastered/remastered, not that the bands sound alike.

And saying the Ascension needs vocals is kinda silly, kinda missing the point. Sure it veers towards rock and roll, that's the whole idea, but vocals would just be distracting.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Well, I had no idea there was a CD issue.. i got the record, and I was going to choose a track for one of these Mine The Gap mp3 comps we're all talking about, and I always master the stuff I rip to computer from vinyl just because. (Watch Out, Weasel!)

donut bitch (donut), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:41 (sixteen years ago) link

The thing is Acute's Ascension w/ Weasel's remaster is the BRANCA APPROVED® version!

Out of curiosity, I'm working on some other stuff where the tapes may be forever lost. I went to a mastering house once and asked how they digitise the vinyl, and they said they did it with the same machine they cut vinyl with and that it's super high-quality. I then asked if they clean the record first and they said no, that I should do it before I bring it in. I thought that was weird. There are thousands of options, I can always just hook up my 1200 through my Motu system into Peak and use SoundSoap or something, that's like the cheapest, worse possible way. Now there's all these new ProTools Plug-ins. Are they as good as the old Ceder Systems and Sonic Solutions No-noise systems that were the standards? Anyone know where to get good quality transfers done?

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 00:56 (sixteen years ago) link

dan i didn't know you were involved with acute/carpark. great job with that metal urbain thing! i really enjoyed that. i was gonna review it for the voice but george smith(that bastard!) beat me to it.

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:09 (sixteen years ago) link

How different is your Metal Urbain cd from that old Fan Club cd issue? Cuz I've got that, but I would definitely buy the new thing if it is significantly different..

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:09 (sixteen years ago) link

Dan, what we're saying is we love you and want to have your babies. And get on your promo list because we're cheap scum.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:12 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah...I came up with acute years ago, twiddled my thumbs with the idea untill Simon Reynolds brought Todd, who runs Carpark, to the weekly, ahem, disco-punk party I used to throw with the Rapture. See, I'm trying to make this relevant to many controversial threads. Anyway, we've worked out a deal and it's going pretty well. I need to get the actual Acute Records website up, hopefully soon. So I'm just Acute w/ Todd, I have no input or involvement with Carpark or Paw-Tracks.

But thanks for the kind words.

Regarding the Metal Urbain CD, it is drastically different. The band went to london and completely remastered everything, so it sounds much better then the Fan Club CD(which I also have, it's actually worth quite a bit of money...for now!) We've also added a bunch of new songs, a few unreleased, 1 really dope minimal synth/electro mix of Panik which is basically just a synth-bass line, and both sides of the Rough Trade Metal Boys 7", which they've decided to associate with Metal Urbain.(And the Metal Boys CD will have 9 unreleased tracks from what was to be the second LP, all awesome New Wave electro-pop weirdness)

And I can't even begin to say how proud I am to be doing this, as this is the first American release of any of their material in any format. I can't believe it took this long. They came to NY(and a few other dates in nov, there's a thread around here somewhere) and were totally great, and may come back in March.


Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Didn't hstencil have some sort of connection with that show?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:17 (sixteen years ago) link

aw heck, that punk funk thread wasn't controversial, it was fun! we need more threads like that around here. Dan, do you have that Italian Pyramid Project album? You should seek it out if you don't. One side is an italadisco megamix of din da da into da da da into another brick in the wall. one side is italadisco deep purple and one side is italadisco versions of magic fly and oxygene and i can't remember what the fourth side is. you might dig it.

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Ned, at the last minute, due to miscommunication between various parties, the guy who booked MU realized they needed a tour manager asap. I had recently met hstencil, over a wonderful Italian meal, and thought of him, and got his number from another ILMer, ms. jaguarride(or is it sisterray? I forget.) Who then quicky offered him an even better job! In the meantime, hstencil wasn't able to get enough info at such a short notice, and perhaps wisely, backed out in any case. The booker ended up taking them himself, and hopefully most parties were happy. For his consideration, hstencil got a free copy of the CD, and my thanks, at the very least.

I don't know the Pyramid Project but I think Danny Wang played the Floyd part a few years ago at a lifechanging gig. He was warming up a small space before Robert Owens and I was on a couch falling asleep and he played the most amazing set, including the 9 minute italian remix of Passion by the Flirts. It was so beautiful. I think one of my goals in life is to have as many copies of Magic Fly and Oxygene. They are surely the "Gloria" and "insert other rock song all bands cover" of the electronic disco scene.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:40 (sixteen years ago) link

did tantra do a cover of magic fly? i have at least 3 or 4 different versions on various things.

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Geez, where's Sundar when you need him?

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:46 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't know. I have the following:

Magic Fly-
Space (the original)
McLane Explosion (a tom n' jerry mix)
Kebekelektric (not sure which of their stuff has Gino Soccio, but I'm a fan, also Kebec Electric)

Jean-Michael Jarre (the original)
McLane Explosion (see above)
Hypnosis (awesome italo classic w/ the theme to Blade Runner, as heard on I-F's mixed up at the hague)

Glenn Branca, however, never covered Magic Fly. I'm working on some mixes for the eventual Acute site, including a Space Disco mix. I think everyone's so excited about 80s and electro styled eurodisco stuff, they're forgetting the cool more "live" 70s space disco. Though that may change with Rephlex's reissue of tracks from the infamous Black Devil Disco Club record.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 01:50 (sixteen years ago) link

somebody needs to reissue those old rockets albums!(the french band)

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 02:01 (sixteen years ago) link

I like Branca, like Thereo Girls, etc. But also hate the taste of beer. Thought I'd share.

John 2, Friday, 9 January 2004 02:14 (sixteen years ago) link

I bought Ascension recently. (Based on er, David Bowie's recommendation in, uh, Vanity Fair.)


I have it in my car.


I think I'll go drive home now.

Lukas (lukas), Friday, 9 January 2004 02:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I wish this thread was a club I could walk to right now.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Friday, 9 January 2004 02:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Hello, Dan. I want to add that I'm glad Acute reissued the Ascension. I had heard about it from a record collector's viewpoint (because of the Longo artwork) but never listened to it. Since buying the CD, I was so impressed that I purchased the original 99 Rec on vinyl.

Hey ILM, did you know that Pitchfork gave The Ascension a 10?

Star Hustler, Friday, 9 January 2004 03:13 (sixteen years ago) link

I like Pitchfork. When they review my records! I'm listening to Music From Bad Smells right now...

never heard of the Rockets, I'll look into that.

Anyone know anyone who works at Universal/Island in london?

Has there been a thread about Black Devil Disco club? I know it was discussed on It may be the coolest record ever, definately a holy grail for those of us who like our disco dark and weird, experimental but still accessible and pretty. It's the most perfect crossover between Morricone/Goblin and italo-disco, moreso then Goblin's own Claudio Simonetti's very influential italo-disco records. It sounds like Black Dog Productions. My friend just downloaded it and he said it sounds like Can doing italo. A friend of mine wanted to reissue it and he got mad that I kept talking about it. Luke Vibert got into it and now Replex is putting out a portion of it as 12". It recently went for a few hundred bucks on eBay.

these threads are funny. I imagine there's a ton of dance music types who'd love a discussion of various versions of Magic Fly but would never peak inside a thread about Glenn Branca!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 04:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Post a link and mention of this on the Matthew Dear thread, you'll get a fair number of people intrigued.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 January 2004 04:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Dan, I wouldn't leave the job of removing clicks and pops to a plug-in. Check the Digidesign Users Conference at for ad nauseum discussion of methods. I used to read the DAW-MAC listserv for long in-depth analysis of clean-up tactics, and ultimately manually redrawing the popping/clicking waveforms in Pro Tools was always best. (Know what I mean by that?) Or if you prefer to just press PROCESS, I guess the whole guitar army starts to sound like they're playing through Peaveys, behind a blanket.

The plug-ins to ADD hiss/clicks all work very well, though -- highly recommended!

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Friday, 9 January 2004 04:34 (sixteen years ago) link

never heard the rockets!!?? Yikes! Quick, do something! (i'm all aflutter)

scott seward (scott seward), Friday, 9 January 2004 04:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Ned...maybe...or maybe it's time I stop talking about records so I can reissue them myself first, or at least still be special when I play them out!

Ian...I've read up, some of the sounds can be drawn out in pro-tools, but there are definately processes, very hi-tech and expensive plug-ins like dinnr or whatever it's called, that are certainly effective to a certain degree, and certainly at removing noise that's a constant, as opposed to clicks and pops. If I remember correctly, I think Sonic Solutions or Ceder worked by scanning the record multiple times in realtime. The professionals may do some of it manually as you say, but not all of it. SS and Cedar aren't plugins, they were pre-protools systems that cost craploads of money, and most old records that have been cleaned from vinyl have gone through them first. I was wondering if any of the pro-tools systems can compete with them now.

scott...I checked out the website for a second, help me out, where's the music links so I can hear the damn stuff.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 05:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Dan, search here:

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Friday, 9 January 2004 06:18 (sixteen years ago) link

''The Ascension's even better than UT - Griller.''

no fucking way. Branca is so much lamer than Ut on the current evidence: and can someone please reissue those ut records bcz its really sad they are out of print.

''I wouldn't compare the Ascension to Television or Teenage Jesus, because it isn't pop music.''

television and teenage jesus are rock music and I think its a fair comparison.

the comparison with television is pretty good actually bcz marque moon is also pretty 'static' but at least i like some of the songs.

But it might that I was listening to a d/l record that was burnt onto disc.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 9 January 2004 11:51 (sixteen years ago) link

also i said the thing needed vocals bcz I thought of the record as not that interesting bunch of instrumentals that might be improved by having someone screaming over the top.

agree with noodles- sundar should also post on this thread. i think the ascension is one of his faves.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 9 January 2004 12:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Personally, I think vocals would've ruined The Ascension. I first heard/got this record a few months back and - however briefly - considered throwing out all of my SY. Still wondering now whether I need it all.

Raymond Cummings (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 9 January 2004 12:53 (sixteen years ago) link

''The Ascension's even better than UT - Griller

??? Why was "the Ascension" compared to a completely different band with an album released almost a decade later?

donut bitch (donut), Friday, 9 January 2004 16:01 (sixteen years ago) link

while i cannot recall all of the justifications for handing out a 10 (and just realized one of the horrors of music writ, that i haven't listened to it since), it's funny that one of them was that if say...Mogwai or Unwound had released a record that energetic or thought-out, Pitchfork would have handed a 10. and since the last 10 before that was the Trail of Dead's Source Tags and Code, it self-prophesizes.
the 10 was never in relation to his other symphonies or ordered in such a manner. completely self-contained within the music itself and without (much) consideration of peerage, i found it perfectly betw. rock and avant, and perfect.

Beta (abeta), Friday, 9 January 2004 18:20 (sixteen years ago) link

So, it's like the Five-star thing in Rolling Stone, then.

donut bitch (donut), Friday, 9 January 2004 18:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Anyone know anyone who works at Universal/Island in london?

uh... dan? just tell me exactly what needs doing!

lauren (laurenp), Friday, 9 January 2004 18:48 (sixteen years ago) link

we've talked about this...find someone who knows anything about where the Distractions tapes may be and find someone who will talk to me about licensing their music. They have a problem with "cross-territory licensing" and kept sending me to Universal LA, who of course said, we can't help you, try Universal London. But before that they said they only license material if we allow Universal to manufacture it(and take the larger cut of profits) and only if we were going to press 10,000 + copies.

Branca is "lamer" then Ut? I don't know...I've heard most everything by both of them, despite coming out of the same scene, I really wouldn't compare them. Maybe Nina's work w/ Chatham, but that's more regarding Branca vs. Chatham which is an old debate and not really relevant anyway. Alan Licht talks about this in the forthcoming Lesson No. 1 liners. You can debate who came up with the ideas first, Chatham, Branca, Lohn, someone else alltogether, live performance history will tell you one thing, recorded evidence another, but if you dig into the details, you actually find 3 people with different backgrounds, contexts and ideas who all ended up playing with each other(or each others bands) and all ended up toying with the "extended rock guitar as modern classical" thing in various differeing ways. To be specific, I think Chatham wrote stuff like Guitar Trio first(77?) but it wasn't recorded and released untill the 80s and doesn't really ROCK, it's closer to guitar based minimalism. Some of Jeffrey's songs have a more structurally repetitive extended nature, the breaks and extended repeated grooves, while Branca's Static/Theoretical Girls material was more clangy and dissonant early on. But later Lesson Number 1 was the breakthrough and the Ascension is the statement. At least that's how I see it.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:17 (sixteen years ago) link

I LOVE that Static single, that thing rocks. But man, some of the stuff that was on that Songs '77-'79 cd was just embarassingly bad.

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:29 (sixteen years ago) link

I wouldn't say embarrassingly bad but a lot of it didn't quite raise me above the ground, granted. The best thing about "You Got Me", for example, was the metal sounding drums, basically (Wharton Tiers, we love you). the lyrics were kinda silly...

donut bitch (donut), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, perhaps it was just the lyrics that put me off...

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Have you heard the Theoretical Girls CD that came out on Acute? It's all the stuff written by Jeffrey Lohn, not Branca, and is very different. Personally, I was never a huge fan of Branca's lyrics or singing, and think his time was yet to come, but Lohn's rockers for the Theoretical Girl I still think are totally awesome. Lovin in the Red is the art-punk hit single that never was. Play it, play it loud...

There's a pretty rare tape of the Static, recorded live in a studio I think, but it's pretty raw sounding. Some of it's pretty intense though, and hints and the power. I love the Static single, I like some of the other stuff Branca wrote for the Theoretical Girls, and obviously love what Lohn wrote for the Theoretical Girls, but the more you talk to people who were there, the more you hear about just how amazing they were live, you really get a sense that their influence was pretty huge, regardless of not having many releases and like many other No Wave acts, being left off of No New York. Kim Gordon wrote an interesting article for Artforum in 83 about Glenn. I think it's online somewhere, but I'll try to put it up on the Acute site when that gets going soon.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:37 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, Dan, I've got your Theoretical Girls cd - it's fucking great! I was just sort of following on to the general Branca discussion to note how awful I found a couple of those song things on the Atavistic cd.

Broheems (diamond), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:44 (sixteen years ago) link

this thread's certainly got me eager to check out 'ascension' again. especially if the new CD's a remaster. (thanks for getting it out there, dan.) I was checking out branca in the earlier 90's, and my main problem with the earlier recordings was the fidelity; also the pieces that were obviously all about being overwhelmed by volume in live performance, recording them seemed almost futile. the later symphonies are a bit more refined, do have developed dynamics & tonal movement and therefore translate to home playback a bit more easily.

julio: check out the third. that one would probably even survive downloading, but you could always buy a copy.

dragged out the ninth last night, scored for traditional symphonic ensemble. queasy but majestic, couldn't play it loud enough or finish listening, still very impressive though. his earlier 'world turned upside down' feels like a trial run for the ninth.

hopefully these reissues will encourage branca towards a live retrospective, I'd fly out to new york to see the third in a second.

(Jon L), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:53 (sixteen years ago) link

see I think 'guitar trio' totally rocks (not only chatham's version but also the version recorded by band of susans, the fact that they even thought of recording it must mean something regarding its 'rock content' (the alb on which they put that versh is really great too)) and its actually the best thing I've heard by either of them (but I'll investigate some of the branca recommendations here).

x-post: yeah thanks Milton.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Friday, 9 January 2004 20:56 (sixteen years ago) link

but the more you talk to people who were there, the more you hear about just how amazing they were live

you have/had some videos that jeffrey gave/loaned to you, right? i remember watching one that was just amazing.
re: distractions, i've sent an email.

lauren (laurenp), Friday, 9 January 2004 21:08 (sixteen years ago) link

That Black Devil Disco Club record is fucking terrific! I am normally very suspicious of 'lost classic' records but this really is great.

Tico Tico (Tico Tico), Monday, 12 January 2004 15:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Just darting in quickly to again yell ditto re: this music is live, loses lots in any recorded form. Branca's medium is those towers of open E strings, and even 20 open E's on 5 guitars have a physical effect on air pressure that two speakers don't replicate well.

My sense is that Branca picked up on Rhys Chatham in a tortured, forbidden, Aerosmith-driven outlaw way. There seems to be a social line in the sand by people who were around back then.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Monday, 12 January 2004 16:01 (sixteen years ago) link

I really liked Lesson #1 then i got the Ascension Lp and it was not as good to the 12" :-(

Jens (brighter), Monday, 12 January 2004 22:35 (sixteen years ago) link

"Magic Fly" on Felix Da Housecat Kittenz and thee Glitz.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Monday, 12 January 2004 23:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Really Jens? I'm suprised, Lesson #1 definately has a bit of catchier hook and all, but I think it lacks the power of the Ascension. Also, technically, it wasn't recorded as well, but knowing some of the music you like, I doubt that's a substantial criteria! Anyway, I finished the layout of the Lesson #1 CD last night. Bad Smells is a cool piece, as a dance piece it has all these different parts and bridges some of the gaps of his styles, ambient passages, almost funky passages, triumphant rock passages, dissonant passages, etc. The Symphony 5 video is cool to watch, Alan's liners are cool, there's a few neat photos including an action shot of the guy playing the Sledgehammer for Dissonance from Lesson #1. Wait, is this I Love Music or I Love Selling Records?

But you should have the Ascension CD, if only for the 2 minute clip of Glenn solo in 1979. It's really cool.

I'm gonna get all versions of Magic Fly and make a mega-mix!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Saw Theoretical Girls in 1978, I think at the X Magazine benefit at the La Mama auxiliary space on 4th St. Totally awesome. At the time (knowing nothing about them) I decided that they were like the Ramones played through an electric blender, but of course they rocked - and swung! - way better than the Ramones. The room was dancing crazy, people were swinging from imaginary chandeliers, helicopters were exploding, giraffes went into sexual frenzies. Saw T. Girls at an art space a few months later, hoping to repeat the experience, and was very disappointed. They were making beautiful music, overtones and fucking wind chimes and shit (well, they didn't use wind chimes, but that's what it felt like; shiver).

Didn't follow much of the artists' subsequent history. Thought Lesson Number One was pedantic (or anyway drove the point or the nail into the ground), but I heard it through shitty speakers. But then again, hip-hop sounds great on a clock radio, and if... well, it may well be that the live stuff was the best, just as it may be that I'm best in conversation, but doesn't one have a responsibility to adapt to one's medium, rather than to say, "We'll do what we did live"? (Not that this is a comment on these people's records, few of which I've heard.)

No New York is in desperate need of a remix.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:17 (sixteen years ago) link

But not with Busta, please.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:19 (sixteen years ago) link

I know Weasel Walter's giving up on the No Wave history and all, but as I will soon put the Acute website up, will need to quote you. I've seen the original poster, you don't hear much about the X Magazine benefit, but it sounds like ground zero. Theoretical Girls, DNA, The Contortions, the Erasers, maybe Daily Life, I can't remember. I have a framed poster over my TV of a spare from a show at the Kitchen, T'Girls, the Gynaecologists(Rhys Chatham and Nina Canal and...) Daily Life (Glenn and Barbara Ess) and Arsenal(???) Please tell us more about the X Magazine benefit....

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:24 (sixteen years ago) link

and to take up your question...I think there's a big difference between the production of of hip-hop and rock, especially avant-post-minimalist-pseudo-classical-noise™ rock. Hip Hop is mastered a cerain way and the radio stations that play it have all kinds of compressors and exciters, all to make sure it sounds good on a clock radio. But assume it's a given that Glenn's music is meant to be heard live, which is why Lee Ranaldo makes apologies for the Ascension in his liner notes to the Acute reissue, that they tried to engineer it for maximum kick-ass-ness, but where unable to replicate the sound. I assume if Lee were to re-record the Ascension now, he'd put 2 mics in a room and let the band rip, instead of close-micing the amps.

But even if hip-hop sounds good coming out of your clock speaker, it'd probably sound better coming out of a jeep.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:34 (sixteen years ago) link

my brother has been playing with Barbara Ess lately. However, I'm still waiting for the definitive history of The Aural Exciters.

scott seward (scott seward), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:35 (sixteen years ago) link

see frank now some 'busta' with no new york would be hard to beat (well, old issues of 'why music sucks?' might be better ;)).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:36 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm assuming there isn't gonna be one. Why would Ze put out that EP with the same cover as the LP but only 4 songs? Maybe they have a CD coming w/ everything? I have the LP and the My Boy Lollipop 12".

I know Barbara was teaching photo at Bard for a while, and supposedly also lives in my neighborhood.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 00:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Sorry, Dan, most of that show is gone from my memory bank. For instance, I'd forgotten altogether that DNA was on the bill, though they may well be the reason I went, as I was friends with Robin Crutchfield, their keyb. player, and I'd liked them when I'd caught them at Max's about a month before. Robin and I worked at the Strand Book Store. My friend Bob Galipeau, who worked there in shipping - Robin was in typing - had told me, "Robin's great when he plays. He looks just like he's typing."

The X Benefit was underway when I arrived - Theoretical Girls were already up. Earlier in the evening I'd gone with Kathy Nathanson (Strand, social sciences) to see Lou Reed at the Bottom Line. That was a very distanced experience in every way, like sitting in an exclusive theatre. During the long wait, these two guys behind us were having a loud, boring conversation about hockey, then Lou came on (near the release of Street Hassle, I think) and was singing in a deliberately wanky voice I'd never heard from him, as if he didn't want to sound tough anymore, which might have been an admirable personal choice but wasn't good for his music. Kathy and I tramped over to the East Village after that, to La Mama's, Theoretical Girls were rocking out. I can't add anything to my description, except that I recall their doing the white-shirts-with-rolled-up-sleeves things - maybe that's how they dressed in their day jobs, assuming they worked for Existentialist Gas & Electric, digging underground cables - and they didn't seem to have any go-go dancers or manicurists on their payroll. If I saw DNA that night, I don't remember it. I do remember the Contortions: this was the first I'd heard of them. They moved the beat - I remember that. James seemed like an asshole, saying hostile things with no apparent provocation. The music danced all right, but I didn't get it, sounded like a jumbled noise stew. Really, it wasn't until the third time I saw them that my brain and my body figured out how to hear them and how powerful they were. What I recall from the La Mama night was the motion of the music and that an incensed, crazed guy in leather was heading towards James to do him damage, and Jody stepped in between, brandishing his guitar like an axe, to protect James. (A year later, Jody probably'd have stepped aside and let James get creamed.) Adele threw a cup of water at the leather psycho. Bob told me the next day that everyone in the Contortions should have been shot, including Jody - especially Jody. But eventually we all became fans.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 01:12 (sixteen years ago) link

thanks for sharing...

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 01:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I have the LP and the My Boy Lollipop 12".

yeah, me too, and i cherish them. more than my branca records sad to say. but i meant a written history. or a history of ze. or maybe there is one. i just haven't seen it.

scott seward (scott seward), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 01:35 (sixteen years ago) link

Bob Blank, the lost link between no wave and disco and montel williams:

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 01:47 (sixteen years ago) link

I want to live in Dan's brain for a while.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 02:12 (sixteen years ago) link

you can have it...

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 03:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Would you like it returned dry-cleaned?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 03:33 (sixteen years ago) link

no. keep it. I don't want it. it's a waste of time.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 03:52 (sixteen years ago) link

But the autotonic nervous system!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 03:54 (sixteen years ago) link

(I haven't heard this one. I really like the 5th symphony, which I listened to last week. It's underrated.)

sundar subramanian (sundar), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 03:59 (sixteen years ago) link


the autotonic nervous system, that is. Not the Ascension or Lesson No. 1.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 04:07 (sixteen years ago) link

A vision!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 04:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Geez, Frank (going back to Frank), you didn't mention Beirut Slump! "The world will not long remember..." etc.

Fontaine Fox (Methuselah), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 06:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Hey Frank, maybe this will jog your memories...

I think I scanned that thing in like 4 pieces and stitched it together in photoshop.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 13 January 2004 06:45 (sixteen years ago) link

six months pass...
I hadn't heard it until this week, but "Lesson No. 1" is truly amazing - a revelation for me.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 19:29 (fifteen years ago) link

Pretty grand, isn't it? I really must get the reissue at long last.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 19:34 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll send you one Ned, with the Desp Bikes. This week. Promise.

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 19:43 (fifteen years ago) link

Aw, thanks. :-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 19:44 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I have a 60 minute tape fomr the X Magazine benefit with 20 minutes of DNA, 7 minutes of the Erasers and the full Contortions set.

the Grape, Wednesday, 27 October 2004 18:24 (fifteen years ago) link

fourteen years pass...

A recording of the Third Ascension just came out and it is highly recommended, was performed last night for the first time since his death on what would have been his 71st

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 7 October 2019 16:59 (seven months ago) link

it really rips

global tetrahedron, Monday, 7 October 2019 22:16 (seven months ago) link

it really does. played through this once so far and it was a pretty magical commute

gman59, Tuesday, 8 October 2019 00:36 (seven months ago) link

Whoa nice! Just saw this, looking forward to checking it out. Branca an eternal influence for me.

grandavis, Tuesday, 8 October 2019 14:57 (seven months ago) link

Oh wow, this rocks harder than I expected. A good listen.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Wednesday, 9 October 2019 14:26 (seven months ago) link

If you haven't heard it The Ascension:The Sequel from 2010 is similarly great

chr1sb3singer, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 15:54 (seven months ago) link

Wow, "Cold Thing" is massive.

jmm, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 16:00 (seven months ago) link

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.