William Brittelle: Dream Has No Sacrifice
New Amsterdam Records

We're not much in the habit of granting reviews space to one-song singles (in fact, this might be the first time we've done so), but “Dream Has No Sacrifice,” a recent physical manifestation of William Brittelle's teeming imagination, is unlike any single we've heard. In fact, the New Amsterdam Records co-founder-and-co-artistic director could very well have expanded the digital-only single into a five-song EP, given the staggering number of ideas packed into its svelte, four-and-a-half-minute frame.

To help realize the song's vision, Brittelle, who composed the piece, wrote the lyrics, and contributes electronics, enlisted a number of talents: NOW Ensemble's Mark Dancigers on acoustic guitar; double bassist Eleonore Oppenheim; five-string violinist Michi Wiancko; cellist Paul Wiancko; and vocalist Jason Lekberg (credited with, ahem, screams). Aside from the song's composer, the figure whose presence most distinguishes its character is singer Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes), with whom Brittelle has developed a collection of electro-acoustic orchestral art songs called Spiritual America; “Dream Has No Sacrifice” is, in fact, the fourth piece Brittelle has produced with the singer, whose sultry delivery contributes critically to the song's persona.

If the song pushes Brittelle's already kaleidoscopic sound to a dynamic extreme, there's a reason for its restless, shape-shifting design: he wanted specifically to capture in sound the freneticism of NYC life and the anxiety a denizen experiences in trying to achieve some healthy balance between work, family, and aspirations in a city known for its manic pace. To that end, Brittelle dresses the piece in liberal helpings of electro-pop sparkle and works into its pop vibe a strong dose of R&B flavour. Add Wasner's dream-like coo, rapid string flurries, thick synthesizer slabs, and hard-hitting programmed drums to the mix, and you've got something unlike anything produced before. Brittelle does render controlled mayhem into sonic form, yet somehow the song achieves a strange kind of magic, in part for being so unusual a creation.

August 2016