“Rhapsody & Filigree” – the 4th and Final Volume of the “Anthems & Antithets” Series
Anthems & Antithets is the series of four double albums I’ve made during the pandemic, each one in its own musical mood: comic, confessional, political and arty. Rhapsody & Filigree is the culmination of the project.
Rhapsody & Filigree is expansive, fancy and fanciful. A wide variety of arty, experimental kinds of pop songwriting, both musically and in subject matter. With an emphasis on melody and beauty. The assumption is we’re all educated adults here. I always try to write a song about something no one has written a song about. For this, even more so.
On this album, I condense larger forms into smaller ones. For instance, the rock opera “Theseus Rex” where Theseus is the bastard son of Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead. Inspired by early Genesis and prog rock concept albums, this rock opera lasts just over 9 minutes, but it has a sweeping cinematic scope. Another example is the “Brief Mass” a full choral setting of the Latin Mass in under 8 minutes.
I also explored some miniatures, like “When Byron Swam” a song about Lord Byron’s famous swim, and the elusive nature of artistic achievement. Or “The Honorable Mention” where a Hollywood award show nominee rehearses his acceptance speech.
I had the great joy of collaborating with dozens of unique artists on this album. One song “How Soon We Forget, How Long We Remember” a song about the evolution of culture, was constructed using a game of musical telephone, where a half-remembered musical theme was recreated and passed on to the next musician in the chain.
Another collaboration came about when I found my music confused with the music of a different Brian Woodbury on all the streaming platforms. A situation apparently beyond the ability of the tech giants to solve. So this other Brian Woodbury – a jazz trombonist – and I decided to write a song about it. Called “The Other Brian Woodbury.”
The overriding theme of the new CD is the future. Whereas Volume 2 is often a wistful look at the past, and Volume 3 is an indictment of the injustices of the present, on the new album I tried to glimpse the future. To see what positive or at least non-dystopian outcomes we have to look forward to. Dystopia is an easy pose, but there are hints of better things to come. Not to discount the threats of extinction, climate change and the rise of authoritarianism, but we already know the solutions, and there will be a future.
In support of the new release, I will be doing a series of attentive listening parties at select music listening rooms in the US, UK & Europe. I’m also making music videos for the 18 songs on the new album, as well as continuing to make videos for songs from the other volumes of Anthems & Antithets. (There are 20 music videos so far from the other volumes.)
Release date July 25th for both the new CD Rhapsody & Filigree and box set of all four volumes of the Anthems & Antithets project.
Here’s what the press has said about the music of Brian Woodbury:
“Brian Woodbury is a particularly beautiful example of a maverick in the mainstream and double agent in the pop industry.– Bad Alchemy (Germany)
An authentic pop gem that lovers of XTC and the like should absolutely not miss.– Ondarock (Italy)
A cleverly lyrical, deviously funny kitchen-sink songwriter.– New York Daily News
It’s one thing to have that exceptional ability to fuse humor and witty lyrics to great music – Zappa, 10cc, Ray Stevens, Weird Al come to mind – but it’s altogether something else to be able to do it while genre hopping all over the musical map with highly original material. Quirky, witty, artful and sometimes poignant, covering the pop and country spectrum.– Expose
Now it’s official – Brian Woodbury is a multi-talented musician, bordering on genius. …he should be up there with Zappa and Beefheart.– BBC Radio 3 Mixing It
An extraordinary confection. Surprise your dinner guests; flummox the music anoraks; and enjoy.– John Bungey, The Times (London)
Alluring… there is no way to classify what Woodbury and his Orchestra do… There are other artists who blend styles, but none quite so seamlessly and with complete abandon as Woodbury… Full of captivating melodies and rhythms… Clever without being coy, this album is remarkable.– All About Jazz