Glenn Branca – Indeterminate Inactivity of Resultant Masses (Atavistic) 2009


Now I’m no expert on Branca but what I’ve heard of his I’ve really enjoyed. There are three tracks on this record. The first is an archival piece from 1981 featuring Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore in a  guitar symphony chock full of atonal cacophony. The third track, Harmonic Series Chords,  is performed by the New York Chamber Sinfonia in 1989. The real treat though is the 17 minute second track which is actually a recording of John Cage in an interview with Wim Mertons, a Flemish journalist recorded in 1982. It is a recording of Cage’s famous ponderings on his experience of one of Branca’s pieces where he calls Branca’s work “Fascist”. Cage engages Mertons in a dialectic on the merits of Branca’s work. It’s a fucking hoot. Now I gotta be honest Cage comes across as an absolute cunt. I dont want to ruin it for you but Branca’s work according to Cage represents a society that he doesn’t want to continue to live in. As for Mertons, he pisses his pants and seems to be overwhelmed by his interviewee. He can not articulate why he likes Branca’s work and his defence of it is struck down with Cage’s  bitchy non-arguments. He suggest that Branca’s work is like a scream, it is hopeless, it is only about energies without content and without dialectics. I think he’s wrong but try to track this down and come to your own conclusion  At one  point Cage seems to belittle Branca by saying Branca is succesful and when Mertons points out that Branca is less successful than Cage, Cage says “I don’t know what that means.” What a cunt. As an aside get yourself a copy of Lewis Hyde’s book Trickster Makes This World. There is a great bit in it on Cage that is great fun. The funny thing is, that by including this rather caustic criticism on his record and bookending it with two great pieces of modern composition makes Cage’s argument appear even more churlish and pathetic.

I can’t find a clip from this record but I enjoyed this from youtube. It gives you a general idea if you’ve never heard Branca before

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