William Brittelle - Television Landscape
Television Landscape is the sophomore release from groundbreaking composer William Brittelle. The follow-up to his well-received collage-based concept album Mohair Time Warp (2008), the apocalyptic-yet-hopeful mixed-genre concept album Landscape sees Brittelle pushing musical boundaries even further by expressing his uniquely extensive experience with classical, jazz, and rock with brazen mastery. Since dropping in the summer of 2010, the record has attracted serious critical attention. The New York Times hailed it as “a set of flamboyant, richly orchestrated art-rock songs”; Time Out New York, in a 4-star review, called it ”a glorious reclamation of lush sounds that crusty critics have vilified for years… Like the finest AM gold, Television Landscape soothes even as it dazzles”; and Kevin Berger of the LA Times celebrated the album as evoking “an earthquake-weather mood along a painterly musical landscape of searing rock.” In the summer of 2011, the album’s closing track The Color of Rain was chosen forThe Believer magazines prestigious annual music issue.
Television Landscape adheres to no limitations of style, genre, or instrumentation. Instead, it is a classically- trained composer’s work to reconcile the disparity between the music he cherishes and the music he enjoys. Also the former frontman to NYC post-punk band The Blondes, Brittelle’s vast and varied influences – from Prince’s Purple Rain and The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds to Ravel, Debussy, and Mingus – come together seamlessly on three-year project Television Landscape. The music is fully notated in every regard and played on both electric and acoustic instruments to reflect a modern day orchestra, complete with ornate string arrangements, epic guitar solos, vintage synthesizers, a children’s choir, and jazz horn sections all performed by esteemed musicians/members of The Long Count, So Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, NOW Ensemble, The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dirty Projectors collaborator Matt Marks and more. The record was produced, mixed, and mastered by Lawson White at Clinton Recording.
Dynamic track “Vivid Culture” opens and quickly addresses the album’s themes of environmental destruction, depersonalization, and ensuing catharsis with lyrics based on Brittelle’s own poetry. Single “Dunes of Vermillion” follows, melding Brittelle’s auto-tuned vocals with soaring strings, while 80′s soft rock-inspired ballad “Sheena Easton” features string plucks, a children’s choir, and slick solos from lead guitarist Mark Dancigers. Later, the title track explores a detached, despondent existence – a contrast to the grand album closer “The Color of Rain,” a poignant-yet-optimistic look toward the future. Ultimately, the album is an ambitious, heartfelt endeavor to intertwine Brittelle’s own tumultuous past with the environmental and spiritual crises currently facing our culture and world.
Press and News:
All Music Guide: "Brittelle traverses electronica, prog rock, neo-classical, avant-garde, alt rock, and more on Television Landscape. But anyone can — and these days, often does — make a record stacked high with eclectic influences; the real masterstroke 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.”
Capital New York: "The songs [from Television Landscape] are at their best when they are most idiosyncratic, when the brass starts blaring and the music takes on the rollicking beat of a New Orleans big band, or when an unabashedly blazing guitar solo interrupts the well-crafted wall of sound. Much of the time, though (and particularly live), Brittelle and his players sound like an excellent jam band: Music to unconsciously, pleasantly sway to."
M Music & Musicians Magazine: "…larger than life and spectacular in scope. A synthesis of modern classical invention and avant-garde experimentation, Television Landscape taps Zappa, mid-period King Crimson and composer Gustav Holst as obvious influences. Despite its complexity, it also boasts moments of subtle intimacy…"
a grammar: "It’s an effort to make a big squishy proggy soft-rock album, and it has a relaxed, breezy, stonery vibe that reminds me of late-90s stuff like Chicago post-rock (Jim O’Rourke, Sea & Cake) and Mercury Rev’s See You on the Other Side, and some of the songs are shot through with wonderfully nerdy guitar solos that I like to imagine, if you notated them on paper, would wind up making the shapes of unicorns in leather jackets."
The Awl: "Every song on Television Landscape has something distinct to recommend it; I’ve only had the album for a couple days, but I can report that it all bears up incredibly well on repeat. There’s acoustic strum-and-mope along the lines of Bon Iver, some hazy noise sections that fans of Fennesz could get behind, and hints of post-punky drum and electronics (all of those styles are actually represented in "Vivid Culture," the first track). And naturally, you’ll find some of the minimalist string writing that’s become a lingua franca for American composers, post-Reich and Glass."
New York Times: "…the music was substantial: a riotous shotgun wedding of rich orchestrations and complex arrangements with the rock-oriented pleasures of flamboyant posturing and excessive volume, Mr. Coale’s fuzz-pedal bass lines and the bombastic precision of Ted Poor’s drumming. Where the two sides came closest together — as when Mr. Dancigers, Mohawk-coiffed and wearing a “Classical Music Is Dead” T-shirt, piloted a dive-bombing guitar solo into a plush thicket of horns — the results were irresistible."