Posthumous Glenn Branca Release Reviewed

Source: Pitchfork.

“There are very few animals that kill their own kind.” Avant-garde composer Glenn Branca often began interviews with bleak screeds on human existence. “We’re vicious, psychopathological beasts,” he said in 2011, referring to our planet as a “disgusting shithole.” It was easy to take one look at Branca, drink in hand and perpetually smoking, and think you had him figured out. It was even easier to hear his vitriolic compositions and find them oppressive and terrifying, as John Cage famously did in 1982. But there was always an armored optimism in Branca’s work that suggested: If we can get lost in this maddening sound, we might be able to transcend our shared shithole, if only for a moment. With Branca’s final work The Third Ascension, released a year and a half after he died of throat cancer, the composer and his ensemble take the familiar instruments of a rock band and transform them into machines of calculated pandemonium, whose noise is so merciless it’s blissful.