The Ascension is the debut album by No Wave composer Glenn Branca, a man who is widely known to critics for his use of volume and dynamics. The album has mixes of Modern Classical and Totalism, because of the said loudness of it, that makes the album feel somewhat orchestral sounding and rapturous (and we do mean rapturous).
In 1980, Glenn released an EP titled "Lesson 1", which was a sneak peek of things to come for him since he embarked on a journey to make an LP version of said EP. So sometime after that, he recruited four electric guitarists (Neil Sublette, David Rosenbloom, Lee Ranaldo + Himself), a bassist (Jeffrey Glenn), and a drummer (Stephan Wischerth), to form The Ascension Band. Also, since the bass guitarist knew some engineers and owners of a recording studio (The Power Station), they were able to use it to little to no cost.
They recorded five pieces while touring for Branca's EP, and in 1982 they finally released the album through Ed Banhaim's 99 Records label, and... It sold poorly with a measly 10,000 in record sales and Branca didn't get signed to any major label. Even when critics did review the album quite positively (it even placed the Number 6 spot for the best albums of 1981 by The New York Times), people still imagine what would've happen if Branca got a major label deal.
Branca did released a sequel to this album called "The Ascension: The Sequel", which had a different Ascension Band, and also a posthumous album called "The Third Ascension", which was a live album and also had a different Ascension Band. But both of those can't hold a candle to an album that was (and still is) a masterpiece from the No Wave scene.
The Ascension Band:
- Glenn Branca
- Ne Sublette
- Daniel Rosenbloom
- Lee Ranaldo
- Bass Guitar:
- Jeffrey Glenn
- Stephan Mischeti
- Lesson No. 2 (4:59)
- The Spectacular Commodity (12:41)
- Structure (3:00)
- Light Field (In Consonance) (8:17)
- The Ascension (13:10)
- Album Intro Track: "Lesson No. 2" pretty much sets the mood and tone of the album. With a repeating bassline that gets more stuff added until it implodes on itself.
- Album Closure: "The Ascension". It's fitting considering it's the longest song in the album and is somewhat a metaphorical ascension to begin with.
- Anti-Climax: Most of the tracks end without any crescendo or a real climax.
- Broken Record: Branca and the other musicians use repetition as a key element to this record.
- Continuity Nod: "Lesson No. 2" is a nod to the EP.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The cover.
- Epic Rocking: "The Spectacular Commodity" and the Title Track are 12 and 13 minutes respectively, while Light Field (In Consonance) is 8 minutes.
- Fakeout Fadeout: The Title Track does this, in the middle part.
- Longest Song Goes Last: The Title Track, which is about 29 seconds longer than "The Spectacular Commodity".
- Miniscule Rocking: Structure, which is just 3 minutes.
- One-Word Title: "Structure".
- Sensory Abuse: Glenn was experimenting on electric guitars and the resonances they have when in a high volume, and had three other guitarists with him. So it makes sense the album feels noisy.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Glenn and the unnamed man he's carrying on the cover.
- Shout-Out: The title was chosen as some sort of continuation of works with the same name like Olivier's piece "L'Ascension" and Coltrane's album of the same name.