ACME: American Contemporary Music Ensemble announces today's June 26 release of the group's debut album, William Brittelle's Loving the Chambered Nautilus, on New Amsterdam Records. Loving the Chambered Nautilus, Brittelle's third album, is a new series of retro-futuristic, electro-acoustic chamber pieces composed by Brittelle and performed by acclaimed violist Nadia Sirota, cellist Clarice Jensen and ACME. By merging the energy and sonic language of pop drum and synth programming with classical forms and instrumentation, Nautilus offers a propulsive and visceral re-imagination of chamber music for the 21st century. The album is currently available at digital retailers, with physical copies being released on June 26. Copies and bonus materials are available until release date through the artists' Bandcamp site, with proceeds going toward album costs.
Unlike its predecessors, Brittelle's art rock epics Television Landscape (2010) and Mohair Time Warp (2008), Nautilus focuses on chamber virtuosity and intimacy. Guitars and vocals (aside from the closing title track) are conspicuously absent; instead Brittelle brings ACME's crystalline precision and infectious energy to the forefront against a backdrop of his programmed electro landscapes, with many of the pieces written specifically with Jensen and Sirota in mind. The result is a vivid sound-world that spans a wide emotional range.
The album title is a reference to the Chambered Nautilus, a fascinating marine creature inhabiting a complex and beautiful shell that is uniquely comprised of both organic and inorganic material, with the line between animal and shell often blurred to the point of becoming indiscriminate. This fluid duality in effect mirrors the relationship between strings and electronics in Nautilus, with both elements coexisting to the point of becoming one.
The electronic components of Nautilus mainly focus on vintage synthesizer sounds and rudimentary drum machines, while the string playing is most often buoyant and propulsive with interspersing moments of tenderness and calm. The album opens with the three-movement "Future Shock" string quartet series, which immediately introduces the intoxicating musicianship of the ACME players. Entwining string and electronic melodies are driven by perfectly placed moments of fervent tremolo, propulsive polyrhythms, and heady synth beats that result in powerful emotional charges (in particular, watch out for 2'50" on the first movement). "Acid Rain on the Mirrordome" follows, creating a sense of catharsis that anyone who's been put into a trance by The Cure's "Plainsong" will enjoy; the feeling continues later in the affecting slow burn of "Loon Birds in Meshed Crystal", featured in the video below. The title track closes the album with a smooth weave of flute, harp, banjo, and retro electronics, concluding with ACME violinist Caleb Burhans repeating the phrase "I do not hate" in succession, gesturing to Brittelle's effortless embrace of seemingly contrasting spirits: the grace, intimacy, and intricacy of the classical chamber tradition, and synthetic pop music.
The project premiered live at NYC venue The Kitchen in early May.
Loving the Chambered Nautilus Tracklisting:
1. Future Shock for String Quartet, Mvmt. I
2. Future Shock for String Quartet, Mvmt. 2
3. Future Shock for String Quartet, Mvmt. 3
4. Acid Rain on the Mirrordome
5. Future Shock for Cello
6. Loon Birds in Meshed Crystal
7. Loving the Chambered Nautilus