You’re in a wretched condition: things don’t go well, there is no work, much less money, and the perspectives of living decorously appear bleak whatever angle you try to look from. While pondering about the kind of miracle that needs to happen to rescue what’s remained of a healthy fortitude from a progressively cadaveric existence, the button “play” is pushed and The Ascension: The Sequel welcomes the lucky victim, a Kalasnikov shooting bullets of pure vibrating energy.
Glenn Branca is back, conducting a sextet of young performers including four guitarists (Eveline Buhler, Eric Hubel, Reg Bloor, Greg McMullen) plus bassist Ryan Walsh and an extraordinary drummer responding to the name of Libby Fab, an incredible rhythm machine gifted with a gorgeous snare accent. The group is able to sustain any type of cross-examination and respond with the sort of impolite solidity – regulated by a remarkable discipline – which transforms the composer’s ideas into radiant shimmering, iridescent chords systematically overlapping over a monstrous pulse to engender overcharged harmonies that lull the brain until one’s out to the world, willing to accept every consequence that the excess of volume and the weight of significance will bring. This is achieved through peculiarly tuned instruments – Branca knows something on how a cluster should sound celestial to the ears of the cognoscenti – that get masterfully intertwined and superimposed, thus immortalizing the man’s furtherance of an acoustic research that’s probably too spiritually advanced for the intelligentsia, content to pointlessly disparage and arbitrate without realizing that under these implausible sonic floods lies the key that unlocks the doubts of many of us. At least, those who have realized that words are an inadequate method of expression for theories that exist just in terms of physical manifestation.
If one listens to the paroxysmal crescendo of “Lesson N°3 (Tribute To Steve Reich)”, or to the superb resonances elicited by the juxtaposition of the different parts in the amazing “Quadratonic”, and remains unaffected – or, even worse, irritated – that means that there’s a problem with that person. This is a record that consists of violent natural phenomena more than sheer music. Scorching rage hiding a blissful beauty, only revealed if we put forward a nude soul. One of the best Branca albums ever, the accomplishment of a sacred wholeness, the synthesis of decades of investigation delivered by an ensemble that looks lean and mean as an Asian junior lightweight. I’m ready to be taken, I’ve always been. The rest doesn’t matter anymore: this is the glorious clangour of life.