Album Review: A Winged Victory for the Sullen

I know this is not exactly up-to-the minute, but it’s a review worth starting with. A Winged Victory for the Sullen is a collaboration between Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie and pianist Dustin O’Halloran. Two years in the making, this album is analogue and almost without compression on the record or mastering. All musical provenances aside, as this album is very much a product of it’s makers, AWVFTS is not as sullen as I was expecting. Rather the melodic progressions and arrangements are oftentimes uplifting in their undulating simplicity.

The piano melodies of Requiem for The Static King is reminiscent of a film score, as it leads you through an emotional path that implies something epic and yet is executed through uncomplicated chord progressions and fairly simple instrumentation; a perfect homage to the late Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse.

The heartbreaking strings in Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears resonate with the melancholy you might have hoped for on this album. Peter Broderick seems to have had more of a hand in this one, perhaps more so than the other tracks.  The tonal soundscapes of AWVFTS are almost hymnal at times sounding like there is church organ playing somewhere deep in your subconscious.  In All Farewells are Sudden the light-filled ambiance is cut here and there with noises and sounds to pull you out of your day dreaming.

I love this album. It’s a blend of ambient drone and the piano instrumentals of the last few years. It sets a mood without leaving you in one place for too long. Perfect for fans of Peter Broderick, Stars of the Lid, Nils Frahm, Johann Johannsson and Jonsi & Alex. Or if you’ve never heard of any of these guys, this album is a great place to start.

You can buy A Winged Victory for the Sullen at Kranky and Erased Tapes.

For a couple of pretty cool interviews with the duo, check out Future Sequence and The Quietus

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