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|The American Contemporary Music Ensemble||Primary Artist, Ensemble|
|Caleb Burhans||Banjo, Violin, Vocals|
|Clarice Jensen||Artistic Director|
|William Brittelle||Composer, Producer|
|Andrew McKenna Lee||Producer, Engineering|
Posted July 14, 2012
William Brittelle is another jewel of a composer on The New Amsterdam Label.
This time he’s teamed up with ACME for a bunch of forays into chamber music/ synth-pop (I lack the right words). His style is light and extremely transparent, full of Torke/Rouse/Reichism, but still is quite unique in his constant shuffling and transitioning of the material in various synth-pop guises.
Here’s what we got:
Track 1, ‘Future Shock 1’, is a good example, with it popish grooves, repeated 16th note rhythmic riffs, and funky bass parts percolating the music along. There’s a great synth /string doubling in the portamento melody in what seems like a sea of lyricism pouring from the composers’ brain. A tiny complaint is the tempo seems a tad beyond the players and/or rehearsal time but there are a lot of Faureish (?!?) chamber music moments to make up for it. The synth sounds are sweet, full of naivety and decidedly 90’s preset/general midi, but at times, its part of the charm. No Reaktor, Max or IRCAM granular going on here. The piece beautifully moves into 4 on the floor amidst a host of very cool sequas, transitions, and morphing. Even more multi-flavored ice cream awaits in‘Future Shock 2’ and 3.
Track 4. ‘Acid Rain’ consists of a short, nice, pop progression expressed in thick synth pads. The synths sounds moved into the 21st C on this one.
Track 5 is ‘Future Shock, (cello version) and at times it’s a strange mix, with synths too far back sometimes—and often a little too barren. But there’s a really nice groove idea in the b idea (kick and bass).
Track 6.”Loon Birds’ is more recitativo than the other tracks. There’s definitely a kind of Americana lyricism in the writing.
Finally, Track 7 is ‘Loving the Chamber Nautilus’ (with vocals by Caleb Burhans doing a very funky falsetto). There is something really magical in its’ ballsy, blatant popishness. Yet formally, it continues to be pretty sophisticated in its constantly morphing /transitioning textures. The style is sort of a ninetyish brit-pop with banjo adding a very cool, contradictory timbre. I love the spectacular ending --It’s like Tehilium or Brittens’ War Requiem for big box stores. But there is real genuine musicality throughout, which has this reviewer waiting for more from Mr. Brittelle. This is every classical purist nightmare--which makes it so stupid great. I’m constantly wowed by the long Beethovenesque transitions -like he’s working out all the motivic possibilities –treating a Britney Spears’ track like it’s Missa Solemnis.
Most assuredly, Mr. Brittelle is definitely a fresh creative voice, that’s completely lacking in cynicism and always comes from a very sincere place. My biggest overall complaint: I wish there was more compressed/thwack/harsh commercial production in both the acoustic and electronic parts.