Thursday, May 15, 2014

Glenn Branca/John Giorno 'Who You Staring At?' (1982)

Back to Giorno Poetry Systems / Dial-a-Poem Poets

Glenn Branca

01 Music For The Dance Bad Smells Choreographed By Twyla Tharp (16:25)

Guitars: Glenn Branca, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, David Rosenbloom, Ned Sublette
Bass: Jeffrey Glenn
Drums: Stephen Wischerth

John Giorno

02 Stretching It Wider (6:44)

03 We Got Here Yesterday, We're Here Now, And I Can't Wait To Leave Tomorrow (10:30)

Vocals: John Giorno
Drums: David Van Tieghem
Bass: Philippe Hagen
Keyboards, synth & guitar: Pat Irwin

Total time 33:41
LP released on Giorno Poetry Systems, 1982

John Giorno (born 1935) started his Giorno Poetry Systems record label in 1972 with a series of ‘Dial-A-Poets’ LPs (see also UbuWeb for more GPS), a project he initiated in 1968 with friends William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. Through GPS Giorno has championned a kind of DIY spoken word poetry embarking cut-ups, performance, rock guitar and electronic rhythms. If Burroughs foundness for tape recorder and tape splicing delights is well known, his relationship to rock appears a bit cynical and un-sincere. Giorno, on the other hand, was part of that Downtown scene where so many things had been happening since the 1960s – from Cage and Rauschenberg to No Wave frenzy. But chances are he envisionned rock music as a suitable medium for his poetry in the same way he used telephone to spread his poems. There’s pragmatism at work here. Some of the guests musicians on Glenn Branca‘s track appeared on his monumental ‘The Ascension’ LP on 99 Records published the year before (1981): Stephan Wischerth, David Rosenbloom, Ned Sublette and Lee Ranaldo. I more or less expected monolithic guitar walls, but this soundtrack to a dance performance is quite varied and structured into various moments, including sudden rhythm changes (at 8:15), quiet guitar feedback drones (at 11;30) alternating with fierce guitar parts, while drums are a prominent feature throughout. The whole track is very well conceived and entertaining from start to finish. The John Giorno side has 2 tracks of poetry reading along heavy beats. The poems are deliberately matter-of-fact and delivered in the typical Giorno high pitched voice. Nice slice of Downtown avant-whatever.

Liner notes by Continuo
Presented in collaboration with Continuo

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