William Brittelle is a composer and multi-instrumentalist devoted to bridging the gap between pop music and New York's downtown classical scene, and a co-director of New Amsterdam Records. He currently lives in Brooklyn.
William Brittelle (born 1976) was raised in a small town in North Carolina where he began his classical piano education at an early age. He received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and, discontented with academia's artistic restrictiveness, dropped out of a graduate composition program at the CUNY Graduate Center. Outside of the university, Brittelle took responsibility for his own musical education by pursuing studies with composer David Del Tredici, jazz pianist/arranger Mike Longo, and Richard Lloyd of Television fame, who produced the sole album for Brittelle's post-punk project The Blondes. This immersion in jazz, classical, and rock music has allowed Brittelle to create experimental and "conceptually complex" classically notated compositions that borrow extensively from popular and jazz vernaculars, subsequently challenging notions of high and low art.
Following a severe vocal injury while performing with The Blondes at an after-party for The Fall, Brittelle received an emerging composer grant from the American Composers Forum to create his debut solo album, Mohair Time Warp, described as "a frenetic melance of spastic rhythms, elegant orchestrations... [like] pop singles cut up and reassmbled Dada style". Performances of the music featured Brittelle lip-synching prerecorded vocal tracks in an effort to cope with his impairment.
Brittelle is best known for his project Television Landscape (New Amsterdam, 2010), which was the subject of a profile in The New York Times. The "maximalist" album synthesizes all of Brittelle's disparate musical influences often within a single song, ranging from French late-romantic/impressionistic string writing of Faure and Debussy to music from Brittelle's youth, like Pink Floyd, Prince, and Def Leppard. While the album is filled with popular music signifiers including anthemic guitar solos and an appearance of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Brittelle's classical background is demonstrated in each composition's precise notation, the "dense interwoven soundscapes," "complex orchestrations" and "mind-bending arrangements." Critics have tended to emphasize the conspicuously divergent musical strains present in the album with statements such as "you might wonder if Jane's Addiction had discovered the soul of Debussy" and "it sounds like Todd Rundgren, Ariel Pink, and Owen Pallett trying to make American Idiot."
Brittelle is currently working on a project entitled Future Shock—a series of electroacoustic chamber pieces composed for members of ACME and yMusic, which according to New Amsterdam Presents, "juxtaposes the energy and sonic language of pop drum and synth programming with classical forms and instrumentation."
- Smith, Steve (1 August 2010). "Agonized Return to a Voice and a Vision". NY Times. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Greene, Jayson (1 August 2010). "william brittelle: television landscape". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Allen, James. "William Brittelle: Television Landscape review". allmusic. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Morrow, Scott (27 July 2010). "This Week's Best Albums". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Chant, Ian (9 August 2010). "William Brittelle Takes on "Sheena Easton"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Berger, Kevin (22 August 2010). "David Garrett carries the torch for classical crossover". LA Times. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- "William Brittelle's Future Shock". New Amsterdam Presents. Retrieved 17 August 2011.