Exposé Online banner

Glenn Branca — The World Upside Down
(Atavistic ALP16, 1994, CD)

by Dan Casey, Published 1995-07-01

The World Upside Down Cover art

While not of a nature traditionally covered by this publication, Branca's seven-movement symphony "The World Upside Down" is of some relevance simply because of his history and association with Virgil Moorefield. The 46-member New York Chamber Sinfonia performs this recently recorded version of the five-year old work. Branca doesn't actually perform anything here, but his vision is the driving force behind this fairly ambitious and intellectual project in the realm of modern classical music. The work itself is dedicated to and inspired by Raoul Vaneigem's Book of Pleasures. The music is very heavy on strings and winds, with a dash of horns and percussion for added color. The first movement is based on a bubbly line of strings and flutes which ebb and flow, building and releasing tension as it goes. The second movement is more of the same: dense, fluid, and soothing. The third movement consists of an unsettling, dark and dissonant passage with light piano chords draped sparsely across the top. The centerpiece fourth movement is based on rapid-fire eighth-notes in the lower strings with a building tympani line to give it motion. It builds continuously in intensity until the abrupt end. The final three movements are all similar to the second and third with their fluid and low key subtle motions. The most disappointing aspect of this work, however, is the rather severe lack of any profound thematic development within the movements. After about only 10 seconds, you have the complete picture of what the remainder of the movement will contain. There are no surprises here; everything is linear, bland, and somewhat uninspired despite the obvious ambition. On that note, The World Upside Down is rather unsuccessful and not worth venturing into unless you have a very strong affinity for modern classical music.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 7, 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Glenn Branca

Latest news

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – 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. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Akai Ikuo - Language without Words – This short album (in the neighborhood of 30 minutes even including the two unlisted tracks) is the first US release but Japanese experimental multi-instrumentalist Akai Ikuo. It’s a combination...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues