Glenn Branca
Lesson No. 1


4.5
superb

Review

by ZIG USER (25 Reviews)
April 22nd, 2023 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forget what you've learned.

In late 1970s, Glenn Branca was working in experimental theatre and with his punk band, Theoretical Girls, in New York. After only twenty gigs, the project ended and Branca launched his solo career and, together with Ed Bahlman, founded an independent record label called 99 Records.

Originally released in 1980, "Lesson No. 1" is Branca's first major work and the birth of a career whose influence would spread to everyone from Sonic Youth to Page Hamilton's Helmet. Branca created the sound that would become his recurring concept of making the electric guitar an instrument of sonic experimentation. This record lays the foundation for the composer's future studio works and symphonies.

This EP features two pieces for various electric guitars, which combine minimal music with the noise aesthetic of punk rock. Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar is an experiment based on the minimalist drone of multiple guitars. This piece begins with two guitars on a riff similar to Steve Reich's "pulse", before introducing a triumphant wall of single-note sound, with organ and bass passing underneath to give a sense of harmonic movement. It continues to build and build with more feedback and noise on top of it until it becomes something unique, almost heavenly.

On the B-side, there's Dissonant, an intriguing ten minute piece for two guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and sledgehammer (!), which foretells the industrial sound that would be born 10 years later. This track focuses on the constant motion of urban life, relying on polyrhythmic experimentation. In addition to the two original tracks, the Acute label came up with the idea of adding the song Bad Smell on the reissue of the album. This unreleased track, over 16 minutes long and featuring Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth, follows the same sound as the EP with a more ambient edge, although it comes closer to what would become noise rock.

All in all, "Lesson No. 1" is an astonishing record, which marked its time and what was to come. For the strength of its content, the intensity of its songs and, finally, for all the influence it generated in the following decades in a sea of musicians, this record became a classic and an essential archive in the history of noise rock. The intense energy that emerges from this album is like a punch that never stops hurting.



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user ratings (67)
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
April 22nd 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Reviewless masterpiece #6

parksungjoon
April 22nd 2023


47235 Comments


great stuff

parksungjoon
April 22nd 2023


47235 Comments


i am not sure how fair it is to say "which foretells the industrial sound that would be born 10 years later" though, considering throbbing gristle and others were already around and many big releases happened in the early 80s

Zig
April 22nd 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

for sure, park. but in a way Branca pioneered the more rock side of industrial, I would say.

parksungjoon
April 22nd 2023


47235 Comments


i can only hope that as branca appreciation continues to grow on the internet so will appreciation for confusion is sex and kill yr idols

Demon of the Fall
April 22nd 2023


34320 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

coincidentally listened to this earlier thanks to Ars…

rather impressive too



does this include Bad Smells?… because that one actually smelled quite nice

parksungjoon
April 22nd 2023


47235 Comments


it did not originally include it no

supposedly that was composed in 1982

ballsohard22
April 22nd 2023


377 Comments


awesome

DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
April 22nd 2023


4979 Comments


wonderful, zig

Jethro42
April 22nd 2023


18281 Comments


Thanks for showing us this, ZIG. Hypnotising, captivating. Couldn't get into Sonic Youth though. Nice review!

ArsMoriendi
April 22nd 2023


41186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Zig omg you’re the best

parksungjoon
April 23rd 2023


47235 Comments


>Couldn't get into Sonic Youth though

he's talkin about sonic youth's first few years (which remain pretty underrated overall) not the later stuff, if that makes any difference [:

Jethro42
April 23rd 2023


18281 Comments


Sonic Youth are fine, I guess. They come from a distant memory, I'd say.

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2023


3048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pospospos will listen, i've been too obsessed with The Ascension to push outwards

ArsMoriendi
April 27th 2023


41186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lowering this to a 4.5. It rules, but I may've overhyped it lol

Zig
April 28th 2023


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

check his 1st symphony, Ars. equally good.

parksungjoon
April 28th 2023


47235 Comments


yee

ArsMoriendi
April 23rd 2024


41186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So good

ArsMoriendi
April 23rd 2024


41186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man I could check his 1st symphony…maybe soon



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