Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans.
by Jon Davis, Published 2018-05-14
Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1948, and started playing guitar as a teenager. While at York College in the 60s, he started his first band, and later moved to Boston to study theater. He moved to New York in 1976 intending to work in experimental theater, though he was also intrigued by the burgeoning punk scene.
He founded Neutral Records in 1982, releasing the first album by Sonic Youth, among other artists. He started composing for ensembles of electric guitars in the early 80s as well, starting with Lesson No. 1, and his first full length album was The Ascension (1981).
He invented a number of instruments to play his music, mostly electrified string instruments, and formed The Glenn Branca Ensemble to perform his works. He also composed for orchestra, though the electric guitar remained his primary focus.
In February 2015, Branca's second piece for 100 electric guitars, "Symphony No. 16 (Orgasm)", was premiered at Cité de la Musique in Paris. On May 14, 2018, his wife announced on Facebook that he had died of throat cancer.
Filed under: Obituaries
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground & Balaklava – A slice of the past, but certainly one that shouldn’t be overlooked. Pearls Before Swine was essentially the vehicle of guitarist / composer / poet / singer Tom Rapp, which over the course of... (1998) » Read more