Branca unplugged; an orchestral out-of-body experience
Michael Sean | Seattle, WA - US | 10/29/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the symphonies in a composer's canon, the mystical #9 is often thought to foretell death and visions of the afterlife. Glenn Branca has sidestepped this numerical superstition by already writing his 10th Symphony before it. Now his Ninth, a post-apocalyptic exhale, will prove to be rather calming, or rather unsettling (or even a bit of both), depending on the listener. The haunting choir and slow, languid orchestral movements are a far cry from the sonic tidal waves and dense soundstorms of his earlier guitar ensembles. "L'eve Future" drifts down like the ashes of a nuclear winter. Branca first began working with a traditional orchestra around the time of his Symphony #7. Most of that material was rewritten and revised, ending up in later works like "The World Upside Down." "Freeform," which closes out this CD, was originally part of it. Best known for his experiments with the densities and loudness of multiple guitars, he favors alternate tunings (which rubbed off on Sonic Youth) and has built custom instruments to better suit his work within the harmonic series. Now he's set out to slowly wade through layers of strings, brass, and voice, seeking out their mysteries. This is a compelling disc that takes you to an otherworldly realm (best visited through good headphones), and it should sit well with anyone who is into the work of Steve Reich, Brian Eno, and Gavin Bryars."