Classical / Ambient giants A Winged Victory For The Sullen is the songwriting duo of Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid, The Dead Texan) and composer Dustin O’Halloran. Both American-born, Wiltzie hails from Brussels, while O’Halloran resides in L.A. – the two were introduced through a mutual friend in Italy in 2007 and after a time decided to work on what became their debut S/T Album, released in the fall of 2011 to much acclaim. They performed live with a string ensemble on several tours that followed across Europe and the U.S.

While for some even the mention of ‘ambient music’ elicits a roll of the eyes and a yawn, their compositions – while atmospheric – are far from the confines of the typical ‘ambient’ catchall. Much like the later work of Wiltzie’s Stars Of The Lid, A Winged Victory For The Sullen manifest a kind of austere solitude; the deep deep quiet of some autumnal midnight in the country, the sight of a breeze across a moonlit pastoral sprawl – the kind of music one listens to in order to evoke a feeling of the enormity of everything around them – perhaps in direct relationship to memories, or dare I say a lonesome yearning for the vestiges of experiences never had.

Musically, the band’s sound is formed with warm, resonant tones, care of Wiltzie  – and by this I don’t mean a synthesizer preset patched through reverb. These passages have a feel that’s nonspecific both to era and genre, and are often the combination of layered instruments, only at times coming to the fore, intently – stepping outside the distant effluvium to reveal themselves as woodwind or brass, among the album’s array of voices that meet in a place between classical and supernatural. All this resides beneath O’Halloran’s sparse, repetitive piano themes that recall even the most apropos moments of Erik Satie, previous to his tenure as a luminary in modern culture – more the way he would sound were one to unearth an unlabeled LP of piano solos, in some second-hand store basement, only to first-discover its heartfelt acumen in the solitary of their home.

The sum of these two things together is as compelling as it is pioneering. There’s a feeling to this music that’s hard to pinpoint. It’s a certain time of day, an obscured memory that passes before it’s fully realized. Additionally, at times it feels something to the tune of Brian Eno teaming up with Arvo Pärt to do the score for Days Of Heaven.

While for some, music of this distinct nature may take a bit of patience before it sinks in, it will resonate exponentially for those who give it a fair shake, unfurling layers of rich orchestral crescendos and gentle piano themes, conjuring a perfect storm of nostalgia and illusion.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen perform live at Le Poisson Rouge on July 7th. Tickets are still available.

Check out the track “Requiem For Static King, Part Two” (make sure to wait for the 2:48 mark for that arresting piano to surface)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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