The Ascension (Acute)

Glenn Branca 

The Ascension (Acute)

In bands such as the Static and Theoretical Girls, Glenn Branca helped to spawn New York City's evanescent yet seminal No Wave movement. But his most lasting and loudest work occurred in the massive symphonies he recorded under his own name, many of which -- along with Rhys Chatham's similar pieces -- laid the foundation for noise rock. Throughout the '80s, no other figure more exhilaratingly combined neoclassical arrangements and tonal exploration with feral Lower East Side rock energy and volume.

The Ascension originally came out in 1981, and its influence still reverberates through the rock underground. Sonic Youth, for one, owes a huge debt to Branca. (SY guitarist Lee Ranaldo plays on this disc and pens liner notes.) Using four guitars, bass and drums, Branca's ensemble creates a caustic clangor with a Wagnerian will-to-power that makes much of The Ascension sound like a clarion call for military mobilization. (These guitars are WMD.) The awesome title track is Branca's crowning achievement, a grotesquely quixotic articulation of the desire to be superhuman -- or at least to forge the ultimate guitar tone, the all-encompassing KLANG that conjures images of the birth of stars, planets and galaxies.

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