Glenn Branca was a key part of the downtown underground music scene in New York in the late seventies and early eighties and was a part of the first wave of 'no wave' musicians.
No wave was the term given to the anti-music created by a group of bands that emerged in the mid to late seventies that sought to challenge, and disengage from, past styles of rock music. These (non) musicians did not infact entirely reject their influences, but did respond to them in a radically original way: no wave music was charactersed by dissonance; jerky, stumbling rhythms; short and unusual strong structures; choking or screamed vocals; and perhaps primarily by the snarly nihilism of many of the musicians.
Key "first wave' no wave bands include Mars, DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Beirut Slump, Red Transistor - and The Theoretical Girls and The Static - both of which featured Glenn Branca.
Glenn Branca had a background in theatre rather than music, and this was not uncommon as the downtown scene was distinguished by its interdisciplinary 'have a go' atmosphere. Glenn recorded on the highly collectible 99 Records label alongside ESG and Liquid Liquid, and went on to found his own label, Neutral Records, which became one of the great downtown underground labels.
Glenn Branca is now primarily known for his later work involving 'guitar armies' - huge orchestra's of super-loud electric guitars playing post-minimalist orchestral compostions!
Our New York Noise compilations feature Glenn Branca on no wave tracks by The Static and the Theoretical Girls, and on a 'guitar army' track under his own name. Glenn Branca fans should also check out the featured track by Rhys Chatham, who developed a similar concept of large scale guitar orchestras.