Sunday, February 3, 2013

Branca - "Songs '77-'79" CD

Collecting 8 tracks recorded by Glenn Branca's early New York "no wave" groups The Static and Theoretical Girls, this 32-minute set shows 2 distinct faces of the post-punk legend's history. Since then, Branca's "guitar symphonies" have become a well-known part of underground music history, and he's inspired countless avante-rock bands and artists (some of which include SWANS and Sonic Youth -- both of which include members who, at one time, performed as part of Branca's symphonies). These early works show hints at what was to come, but remain firmly attached to the "rock" paradigm.

"Don't Let Me Stop You" and "My Relationship" are both songs from The Static, and the resemblance to early Sonic Youth is uncanny. Clearly, a large part of Sonic Youth's inspiration came from Mr. Branca. These tracks (which pre-date SY by several years) are evidence. There are weird, de-tuned walls of guitars, primal drumming, and quirky vocals. Excellent and seminal work.

The remaining 6 cuts are Theoretical Girls, and are more artful slices of odd post-punk weirdness. "You Got Me" is a bouncy bit of art pop, and "Jill" is a twisted attempt at  acoustic pop, whereas "Fuck Yourself" could almost be very early Swans with it's repetitive riffs and nihilist simplicity/single-mindedness. Simply said, this is a historically viable, if brief, look at an underground inspiration in his earliest permutation. Very cool and unique work.

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