vl008 glenn branca - the ascension
180gm white vinyl
Glenn Branca's The Ascension was one of those rare records that managed to change things. Maybe not right away, but as time has passed, its importance and influence has become more and more clear. Branca's idea was to marry the repetition and process of minimalism with the energy and aesthetic of rock music. The Ascension's predecessor Lesson No. 1 showed this in a simple and refined manner but on the Ascension, everything was turned up to 11.
Glenn had put together a small group to tour in 1980. The "Ascension band" included Ned Sublette, David Rosenbloom, Branca and future Sonic Youth-er Lee Ranaldo on guitar, Jeffrey Glenn on bass and Stephan Wischerth on drums. By the time they recorded in 1981 they must have been a hell of a band. Recorded and mixed at the Power Station and mastered by Howie Weinberg, the Ascension is a truly fantastic sounding record, and is one of the benchmarks for total guitar awesome-ness. Chiming, ringing, chugging guitar bliss. In his liner notes to Acute's CD reissue, Ranaldo complains however that the true sound of the Ascension could only be heard in a live room, where all the tonalities could crash against each other in the open air. We'll have to take his word for it and settle for the record they released though, something nobody's complained about yet! The Ascension came out in 1981 on the seminal label 99, where it was greeted with wide critical acclaim.
While looking at all the press that followed it's release, one cannot avoid the debate, is The Ascension a rock band performing classical pieces, or an experimental ensemble performing rock music? Glenn's prior work in The Static and the Theoretical Girls represented some of the most aggressively avant-rock sounds of the New Wave era, while his work in the two decades since has taken on a decidedly "classical" approach. However, for a brief moment, Branca and his band were able to transcend such classifications as High Art vs. Pop Culture, Classical Music vs. Rock and Roll, and release a record that, amongst all the debate, at least had all the critics agreeing on one thing: The Ascension is truly awesome. The Ascension features 5 compositions, none a moment too long or too short , none too leftfield to be inaccessible, none so mainstream to be boring. Just 40 minutes of sheer guitar bliss.
From Slow Boy Records using Discogs here.
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12" Vinyl + CDR + Digital Download
Recorded & mixed by Harvey Birrell at Southern Studios, London. Mastering by Colin Mclean (Dog Face Hermans, The Ex). Featuring members of House of John Player, Hired Muscle, Infinite Men, Gabriella Cilmi. Comprising of eight compositions written for an ensemble of 6 guitars and one drummer.
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