Album Review

Branca, Glenn – “Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses ” – [Atavistic]

cujo   2/28/2007   A Library, CD

1981: Branca “writes”, records (with help from Thurston Moore) Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses for 10 guitars and 1 drums/tympani.
1982: John Cage, a living idol, attends a new music festival in Chicago, hearing all 100 concerts. He singles out Branca for derision, going on record as labelling IAoRM as portentous of the “end of the world” during the course of So That Each Person Is In Charge Of Himself, a recording of Cage’s responses. This causes a scandal.
1997: Tensions over Cagegate flare up again, this time between Branca and online Cageheads.
2005: Branca is still bitter, and releases IAoRM and STEPIICOH on Atavistic, with the piece Harmonic Series Chords as filler. OK, I’m exaggerating the drama, but Atavistic’s packaging sure makes it seem like Branca is overcompensating, which makes me want to think that Glenn should be thankful that his piece was good enough to attract Cage’s attention, even if Cage misreacted like a crazy pompous ass.

Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses: 10 guitars and some drums & tympani in a slowly oozing rhythmic sludge. Think Dreyblatt without the math (though this well predates Dreyblatt) with a hefty dose of metallic Lucier resonance. Nice.
So That Each Person Is In Charge Of Himself: Supposedly an interview between Cage and Wim Mertons (author of American Minimalist Music), but mostly Cage does all the talking on Navy Pier. He talks crazy for 20 minutes, ragging on Branca, throwing out absurdities, and also showing some world-artist-weary insight. I’d never heard him talk before; he’s so effeminate!
Harmonic Series Chords: 7 minutes of a series of harmonic series chords. Filler only; not the best Branca out there.

-Cujo, KFJC, March 2007

you heard it 12 times on kfjc! most recently:
  • 5588 days ago, Cynthia Lombard played Harmonic Series Chords (played by the NY Chamber Sinfonia)
  • 5590 days ago, Anubis, God of Jackals played So That Each Person Is In Charge Of Himself (Cage/Mertons)
  • 5596 days ago, Groundswell played Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses
  • 5608 days ago, Cy Thoth played So That Each Person Is In Charge Of Himself (Cage/Mertons)
  • 5616 days ago, Cynthia Lombard played Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses
glenn branca says

Thurston Moore has never helped me write anything. And I never "write". Maybe that's what you do.
I've never been bitter and "Harmonic Series Chords" is ALL math.


Guy Montag says

The term "writes" appears in quotations, so it would appear the reviewer wasn't explicitly stating your music making methods were strictly written pieces. Thus, Thurston Moore's help in "writing" could be interpreted as mere musical accompaniment & not creative co-composition.

Admittedly, any perceived bitterness is beside the point & mere conjecture. And even though complex logarithms may not be conjecture, the reviewer offers an honest opinion based upon the Harmonic Series Chords sound & presentation, not its numeric ratio or exponent.


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