A Winged Victory for the Sullen
A Winged Victory for the Sullen


5.0
classic

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (103 Reviews)
October 2nd, 2011 | 170 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For those who like it gentle.

To the average Ancient Greek, the image of a winged victory would have meant a great deal of things. At the tip of it all, we have Nike, the goddess the winged victory depicts. The goddess of strength, speed and victory, often shown on a chariot, charging toward an unknown enemy. For the Greeks, certainly, the image meant defiance... defiance against the rest of the known world, the barbarians, whom the Greeks single handedly repelled as the world around them fell. In a word, it was a triumph.

In this way, the album could not have described itself any better. As a culmination of decades spent in the servitude of music, both parts of this unlikely duo have blended seamlessly together to produce something rather wonderful. One half, Adam Wiltzie, brings with him his strong roots in ambient drone music from his work with "Stars of the Lid", the other is Dustin O 'Halloran, a - to this point - relatively unheard of pianist and composer, who supplies some of the most beautiful piano playing in existence. What we're left with is 7 meticulously crafted landscapes, each so rich and so vivid that reaching out to touch it feels plausible.

It's with this expansion of the limits to what you can do with sound where "A Winged Victory for the Sullen" triumphs. The piano is deeply characterised in a way that we quickly make sense of all the intentions behind it. I suppose you could say that it's hesitant, sometimes building up only to shy away at the last minute before continuing softly, as if to avoid breaking the silence... Relative silence that is, the constant swelling of strings and woodwind should have felt like safe ground for Wiltzie, although he's never before succeeded quite as much as he does here.

"after almost 20 years of struggling to create interesting ambient drone music, I feel like I have finally figured out what I am doing" - Wiltzie, after completing "Symphony Pathétique"

This comment is perfectly put, because that's exactly how the music feels. It's a constant moment of clarity, like everything fits together to achieve a greater goal, whether that be within this "backdrop" of orchestral ambiance or, on a broader scale, the relationship of the ambiance and the piano.

This certainly isn't an uncommon relationship, Eluvium and The Tumbled Sea both excel at it. However in comparison their works seem clumsy and improperly thought out. In fact most things become awkward in the shadow of this LP, its perfectly deliberate nature invites comparisons even to Beehthoven as there is never a point where you can critique A Winged Victory for the Sullen for missing an opportunity, or for playing a note too loudly or too softly. What reaches our ears is elegantly engineered, with an organic atmosphere and utterly faultless.

It's surprising, then, to learn of the few dark threads that have been woven into the album. "Requiem for the Static King Part 1" was made in the memory of Mark Linkous, who took his own life in March, 2010. The music, however, does not indulge in the sad circumstances by which he killed himself, rather it offers a unique cocktail of sorrowful bliss. There's no piano, just pure, reflective ambiance: painting a funeral scene, or the last memory of an old, troubled hero.

"A Winged Victory for the Sullen" represents the perfect late-night album, for the moments where, for you, the music is all that remains. As soft and rich and as it is brilliantly composed, we don't get many masterpieces these days, I'm thankful that I didn't miss this one.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So. Fucking. Good.

Any comments/feedback/death threats are welcome. (:

Adabelle
October 2nd 2011


4258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos'd. First half of the review is perhaps a bit better than the second but yeah. Think I might check this out..

Kubrick
October 2nd 2011


749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent review. Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears is definitely in the running for song of the year... I get chills every single time I hear it. Flawless track.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeh, sorry. Sleep started creeping up on me and I have to do these things in one sitting :/



Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very good record

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

BallsToTheWall
October 2nd 2011


44669 Comments


How can someone with Hunter as a name like it gentle?

Digging: Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

jefflebowski
October 2nd 2011


8253 Comments


what kind of music is this exactly?

Kubrick
October 2nd 2011


749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ambient!

jefflebowski
October 2nd 2011


8253 Comments


like, Brian Eno/Aphex Twin ambient?

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, like lush film-score ambient.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

^

"Orchestral Ambient" covers it pretty well. Think I mentioned that in the review, will have to check.

"How can someone with Hunter as a name like it gentle?"

So they let their guard down.



Kubrick
October 2nd 2011


749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No think more like piano-driven Stars of the Lid. Pretty much an even mix between volume-swell drones and minimalist piano.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


7363 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dunno if this will bve my thing but I'll give it a go.

Jash
October 2nd 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Ahhhhh you beat me to this, I'll probably write one anyways as this is my album of the year

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


2714 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Ahhhhh you beat me to this, I'll probably write one anyways as this is my album of the year"

I look forward to it. (:

Kubrick
October 2nd 2011


749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you're not usually a fan of ambient/drone but have some interest in getting into it I would highly recommend listening to this. It's very accessible. Lots of memorable, gorgeous melodies and it's extremely concise for the genre.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


15052 Comments


yall should listen to dustin o'halloran's band devics

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 2nd 2011


10614 Comments


I like this a lot but daaaamn....a 5? I mean, it's pretty straight-forward ambient with some strings and piano thrown in. It's pretty bare bones and simple. Besides that the album is a beautiful listen. Review was really good too.

Pos.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2011


31375 Comments


Great album, but certainly no more than a 4 for me. Good work though

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

struth
October 2nd 2011


435 Comments


@jefflebowski It's ambient/drone/modern classical.



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