One of the leading figures in the New York No Wave scene of the 70s, Glenn Branca passed away due to complications arising from lung cancer.
The music community is mourning the inspiring composer, whose compositions involving electric guitars spawned what we now know as noise rock. Out of his association came bands like Sonic Youth, whose first two releases Branca published on his record label, Neutral Records.
To state Glenn Branca’s influence on rock music succinctly is difficult, because he affected so many different facets of the music industry with the work he did. For example, his symphonies that have sometimes required up to 100 guitarists to be playing at the same time have impacted the way we view concerts, while the heavy noise of his famous album The Ascension would go on to be considered one of the most important noise albums to understand the genre. The album is even considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time, including David Bowie, who listed it on his favorite albums list.
Part of what made Branca’s playing so distinct was his penchant for alternate tunings, distinctly loud noises, and a use of amplified guitars that had previously only been heard in punk music, involving unfinished phrases, extended techniques, and harsh dissonances.
Reg Bloor, Branca’s wife announced his death on Twitter with sadness and hardship. Since then, many other prominent musicians have taken to social media to voice their sadness over Branca’s passing, as it is an undoubtably negative thing in the context of avant-garde music and popular culture.
However, Branca’s passing reminds us of the inspiring man he was. His albums, music, and symphonies will forever live on in the minds of those who they inspired.