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William Brittelle: Television

Notes & Reviews:

Television Landscape is the new apocalyptic-yet-hopeful fully-composed mixed-genre concept album featuring a sprawling blend of rock band, string orchestra, jazz horn section, french horn section, synths, percussion, and youth chorus. Features members of NOW Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: William Brittelle (vocals, synthesizer); Mark Dancigers (guitar); Megan Levin (harp); Mary Jo Stilp (violin); Andrea Hemmenway (viola); Amanda Gookin (cello); David Crowell (flute, alto saxophone); Alex Hamlin (flute, baritone saxophone); Ed Rosenberg (tenor saxophone); Matt Marks, Kate Sheeran, Jacquelyn Adams (French horn); Kate Campbell (piano); Lawson White (synthesizer); Ted Poor (drums).

Recording information: Clinton Recording, New York, NY.

One might be tempted to call William Brittelle's Television Landscape art rock, if the term hadn't been tainted so many times in the past by artists whose pretension walked hand in hand with their ambition. Certainly, the New York City composer/multi-instrumentalist's second album is appropriately expansive, operating on a grand scale that easily accommodates both sophisticated, classically minded compositional structures and visceral rock & roll impact. Brittelle has plenty of experience in both camps, having worked as an acclaimed composer of modern classical works and fronted the almost-famous New York post-punk band the Blondes. On Television Landscape, Brittelle shows himself as something of a maximalist, deeming all of his disparate influences fair game and incorporating them at will, sometimes within the same song.

Consequently, there's a little bit of everything here; "Pegasus in Alcatraz" moves from pastoral, rather romantic orchestrations to a shredding, Eddie Van Halen-worthy guitar solo complete with hammer-ons. The title track blends pointillistic brass punctuation with piercing, Frank Zappa-like guitar work, while "Dunes of Vermillion" lays contemporary-sounding touches like artfully applied Auto-Tune atop moments that seem like they could have come from a mid-`70s Genesis album. Before he's through, Brittelle traverses electronica, prog rock, neo-classical, avant-garde, alt rock, and more on Television Landscape. But anyone can -- and often does, these days -- make a record stacked high with eclectic influences; the real master stroke here is the way Brittelle makes all these elements flow together as though they'd always been part of the same musical universe, and he achieves a surprising degree of easiness on the ear with this deceptively dense, conceptually complex piece of work. ~ J. Allen


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