Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glenn Branca - "Symphony No. 13 (for 100 guitars): Hallucination City" rare live recording

OK, so this is fucking cool. What we have here is a rare live recording of Glenn Branca's "Symphony No. 13 Hallucination City" from its debut performance in New York City on June 13, 2001. "Hallucination City" is a piece for 100 guitars and percussion. Branca, known for his avant-garde tendencies, heavy use of repetition and droning alternative tunings, is in top form here. The piece is absolutely massive, a pummeling, chaotic, overwhelming avalanche of sound. It's like climbing into a jet engine at full rev, an almost unhealthy dose of noise. But it's also meticulously organized and structured. No random, improvisational noodlings here. The entire piece is "double-strummed" by all 100 guitarists (technically 80 guitarists and 20 bassists), a technique similar to playing tremolo but the notes themselves proceed fairly slowly. So many instruments are creating so much noise that phantom notes seem to emerge and hover when played at very high volumes (and really there's no other way to listen to this. Crank up your stereo as loud as it can go for the full experience, even if you can only stand it for a couple of minutes). The sound is built into towering walls but there are distinguishable movements as well. Pianissimo, piano, mezzo, and forte dynamics shift seamlessly into one another, propelled by brilliant, relentless drumming, a galloping clatter that swings from beneath the chaos and keeps the guitar noise from spilling out into some unbound entity. Imagine Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most cathartically unhinged and extend it over a full 60 minutes and you'll start to get an idea of what this monster is like.

The link here is for the entire, one hour long performance. Recorded by Malcolm Tent of Ultrabunny, it sounds incredibly rich and alive. Surely it's nothing like experiencing this behemoth of a composition first hand but it's the next best thing.



  1. I have been looking for this for MONTHS. Has it been released legitimately yet? Thank you so much for putting this up!

  2. Sure thing! As far as I know, there has been no official release; Nor are any in the works. This particular bootleg was recorded by the great Malcolm Tent of Ultrabunny, who has one of the best collection of personal bootlegs I've ever seen. This was a particularly good find though, I've got to admit. Anyway, thanks for reading!