In The Nation, music critic David Hajdu appraises two new works by William Brittelle, a young New York–based composer who professes to make “post-genre” music. As Hajdu notes, Brittelle’s compositions combine disparate musical elements—from country-music twang to cutting-edge electronica—to form a unified and deeply original whole. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
Over the past decade, Brittelle has been drawing from his varied experiences in classical music, punk rock, and electronica to produce silo-bombing music that is at once free-ranging, formally adventurous, unconventionally beautiful, and a joyful thrill to experience. “I see a parallel,” he says, in what he describes as the contemporary “tendency towards wanting to see things as they are, as being truly unique, and resisting the urge to use shorthand or past experiences to come to the table with certain biases or expectations.”
Brittelle’s best argument for the expressive individuality he has promoted as both a composer and the co-founder of New Amsterdam Records came this February, when two of his most daring projects were presented in the same week: Spiritual America, a suite of songs performed by the combined forces of the New York–area Metropolis Ensemble, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the Maryland-based indie duo Wye Oak; and Without Chasms, a multimedia work of images and electronica released digitally through a collaboration between Bandcamp and Brittelle’s label. What was most daring about them both, especially Spiritual America, was the utter fearlessness of their quirky beauty.
Image: Cover of William Brittelle’s single “Dream Has No Sacrifice” (2016). Via Bandcamp.