Info: Lesson No. 1 was Branca’s first release in which he delved more fully into instrumental sounds that melded the dissonant rock of his former outfits with the heavy, massed sounds that he would later explore with groups of anywhere between ten and a hundred guitarists. Originally issued on 99 Records in 12” format, Lesson No. 1 contained two songs, one on each side.
This cd reissue contains those tracks, “Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar” and “Dissonance,” as well as “Bad Smells,” a dance score previously available on a split LP with poet John Giorno. In “Lesson No. 1…,” Branca first exhibits the formula that would serve as the basis of his next LP, The Ascension, a combination of heavy, repetitive, rhythmic statements overlaid with a chorus of guitars that begins in an almost stately mode before rising into a celestial frenzy.
The more aggressive “Dissonance” also builds on a straightforward, repetitive rhythm, though the clangy interjections from the guitars and percussion, and the mechanical yet furious strumming that follows take the track in a new direction in which the different parts of the piece hurtle along together like a locomotive, then battle in and out of rhythmic phase with one another. The twitching rhythms suggest Was (Not Was) and James Blood Ulmer, but the five guitarists, including Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, revel in the darker side of the naked city, sinister and slashing. (dustedmagazine review)