Glenn Branca - Lesson n° 1 [Acute Records - 2004]Glenn Branca is one of the most important guitarists of the no wave period. Less known than Rhys Chatham, he is probably as important. Lesson n° 1 is a CD reissue of a 1980 release, and it features a bonus track.
Branca played in two very important bands, Theoretical Girls and The Static, typical but essential no wave outfits. Lesson n°1 is his first solo releases, a first step in his symphonic work for guitars. The first track Lesson n°1 for electric guitar is rather short by symphonies standards. It features Anthony Coleman on organ, a man who will later make himself known as a regular fixture in the NY Downtown Jazz scene. It’s a sort of minimalist celestial piece, repeating over and over the same rhythm and chord. Yeah, celestial is the word: it makes you feel rising up towards the sky…
Dissonance is just what it claims to be: dissonant. The rhythm patterns are more varied and there is a quasi industrial feel to it. It is aggressive, almost mean. Certainly an interesting track, but it’s not the best thing I’ve heard by Branca.
The bonus track is called Bad Smell. It features four guitarists beside Branca, among whom Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. The piece was written for a dance company. Angular riffs, “ascending” guitar harmonies, galloping western-like rhythms, dissonance, feedback, this piece has it all.
Lesson n°1 is a really interesting document, a testimony of Branca first attempts at a guitar symphony. Besides the history factor, the main thing is that the first and the third track are just beautiful and will be enjoyed by a lot of people. And let's not forget the very nice second bonus: a video recording of Branca's Symphony n. 5.François Monti