Heavy Transcendence: Glenn Branca by Richard J. Goldstein & Hannah Kahng

Often the most theoretically interesting music is more exciting on paper than as real sound, but this is not the case for Glenn Branca’s work.

Accompanying his tendency for formal experiment—he adamantly rejects the idea that all music has become pastiche is the engaging intensity that made his short-lived no wave band Theoretical Girls so well thought of. Branca, who has a background in theater, aims for his performances to blow minds and bring about revelations. How can a sound so jarring, comparable to—as one notable composer suggested—subjugation, be at the same time transcendent. The two ideas may be more closely tied than expected. Maybe a little taste of forcefulness or discomfort is necessary to catalyze incredible experiences.

–Hannah Kahng

As a hurricane stirs the water gray, the sound of Glenn Branca takes form. While the sea appears just about to spill over the brim of the bay, one may just as easily drown in Branca’s music. Churning this way, his sound has a relentless drive full of magnetic energy. Behind all this, the natural force of his composition features the power of the electric guitar en masse. In this way, he brings the wattage back to the roots of music’s orchestral sound, to vibration and the creation of space.

—Richard J. Goldstein


BOMB On the Inside: On the Scene is a series of multi-media discussions with artists on creative vision posted on the BOMBlog. This video was edited by Mitch Moore.