Glenn Branca, Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses

George Grella

By George Grella

on 08.13.11 in Reviews

Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses

Glenn Branca
A return to the Middle Ages, with modern technology

In 1982, the title piece from this Glenn Branca recording was performed at the New Music America festival in Chicago; Cage was there. Afterwards, Cage spoke about the piece, and that conversation is this album’s second track. Cage did not like the piece – a work for massed electric guitars that puts heavy emphasis on clashing pitches and textures – but had no issue with how it sounded. Rather, he objected to Branca’s goal as a composer, and in doing so revealed his uncompromising and personal philosophy with great transparency. “The Branca is an example of sheer determination of one person to be followed by the others. That is not a shepherd taking care of the sheep but of a leader insisting that people agree with him, giving them no freedom whatsoever.” Cage was avant-garde but not of the Avant-Garde; he sought to make systems to produce sounds while removing himself as much as possible from their production. He was a composer who did not need to be present, as opposed to Branca, Laurie Anderson and others, who need be personally involved. Cage saw this as a return to the Middle Ages, with modern technology.