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Symphony No. 1 (Tonal Plexus)

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Album Review

Branca's first symphony is a massive behemoth of guitars, noise and alternate tunings with players that include the Theoretical Girls' Wharton Tiers and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. The first movement begins with a distant groan, like some Aboriginal folk music. By the time the thundering drums begin, the sound has become as grand and immovable is the monolith from 2001. Branca's brilliance lies in his merger of rock and roll with 20th century classical, as well as his ability to create rumbling, careening crescendos into infinity. This 1981 recording shows the roots of everything from Sonic Youth to Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Mogwai, Merzbow and the Boredoms to Black Dice and Lightning Bolt - even post rock groups like Tortoise and Sigur Ros - just listen to the ambient, repetitive pulsing of the second movement. Always defiant, always challenging, Branca's Symphony No. 1 is one of the most raucous and inspiring compositions of the late 20th century.

Biography

Born: 06 October 1948 in Harrisburg, PA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Glenn Branca's compositions center around multiple guitars — four or more, heavily amplified — augmented by a rock-based rhythm section of drums and bass. In later works, the composer began adding other instruments, including mallet guitar, keyboards, and occasionally a second drummer. Branca's minimalist compositions frequently require unusual guitar tunings — more recent works have them strung with two sets of three strings tuned an octave apart. Many of downtown New York City's...
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