Boomkat Product Review:
Glenn Branca’s ‘Lesson No.1’  is a foundational touchstone for late 20th C. electric guitar music: featuring both Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, it’s a core inspiration over Sonic Youth and also Swans, and is regularly hailed in lists of influential experimental music. In the wake of Branca’s recent passing, aged 69, Superior Viaduct present a repress of their reissue to the release’s 2004 CD edition, which packages the original ‘Lesson No.1’ with its B-side ‘Dissonance’, and the bonus C-side of ‘Bad Smells’ featuring Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, a.o. “Seminal” is an oft-misused word, but in this instance, it’s perfectly apt.
Originally released on pivotal No wave label 99 Records, Lesson No.1 has become one of the best loved and regarded highlights of NYC’s catalytic No wave scene. Its A-side masterpiece Lesson No.1 For Electric Guitar was inspired by Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and the work of Steve Reich, which both shine thru in the piece’s nagging melodic phrasing and drifting harmonic swell. Play it on 33rpm for a much druggier sort of glory.
The original B-side Dissonance is perhaps more directly related to No wave primitivism, and the way that style reflected the reality of life in New York’s less salubrious quarters. It’s all about a heady, jarring clangour and inexorable momentum, the sort of piece that sucks you in and demand you keep your wits about you - or utterly let go - amid the dense madness of of a hot sunny day in NYC, or a sweaty throng at Max’s Kansas City. Again, this one sounds great on 33rpm as well as the intended 45rpm.
Bad Smells on the C-side was first titled Music For The dance Bad Smells and issued on Branca’s Who Are You Staring At? split LP with John Giorno. It notably features early appearances of Branca’s touring bandmate Lee Ranaldo, as well as Thurston Moore, who would become known in their own right. In the same way Dissonance gave a taste of the city, Bad Smells offers a synaesthetically incisive, 16-minute reflection of a decaying NYC thru noxious plumes of massed dissonance and wrankling distortion that eventually lead to its heady collapse.