Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Glenn Branca - 1982 - Symphony No. 2 (The Peak of the Sacred)

Glenn Branca 
1982
Symphony No. 2 (The Peak of the Sacred)


01. First Movement (Slow Mass) 22:19
02. Second Movement (Radioactive Poltergeist Kitchen) 19:45
03. Third Movement (Melodrama And Nuclear Physics In The Global Theater) 18:38
04. Fourth Movement (Sacred Field) 10:27
05. Fifth Movement (In The Late 20th Century The Impossible Becomes Possible) 2:18

Recorded live at St. Mark's Church, NYC on May 14, 1982.

Bass – Jeffrey Glenn
Bass Drum, Percussion – Z'ev
Conductor, Guitar, Tape [Harmonics Guitars On Tape] – Glenn Branca
Drums, Cymbal, Arranged By [Trap Set Arrangements] – Stephan Wischerth
Guitar – Barbara Ess
Guitar – Craig Bromberg
Guitar – Lee Ranaldo
Guitar – Robert Harrison
Guitar – Sue Hanel
Guitar –  Thurston Moore
Guitar [Mallet], Bass Drum – Al Arthur
Guitar [Mallet], Bass Drum – David Linton


Throughout the 1980s -- following his breakthrough work Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses -- Glenn Branca began composing a series of 10 large-scale symphonies, which includes the present work, Symphony No. 2, "The Peak of the Sacred." Branca followed a steady (some critics would say static) course, composing resonant, clangorous soundscapes of almost imponderable density and length, which hit their stride early, swell to maximum volume, then stay at a high level of intensity for over an hour with little relaxation. Yet there is a difference between Branca on CD and Branca in performance, and much is lost in the reproduction. In live settings, one is able to appreciate the unpredictable but intended interplay of overtones and acoustics, and the physical presence of Branca's mallet guitarists and percussionists adds considerably to the music's power and sense of space. On disc, the results are flatter and too much is left to the imagination. Even for a work as cosmic in mood and scope as the Symphony No. 2, this live recording fails to capture Branca's full range of sonorities and subtly changing textures, and the listener may feel the music is boxed-in and less than magnificent. While the work itself is daring and bracing, and worth the attention of adventurous listeners, the sound is problematic and disappointing.

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