A Winged Victory For The Sullen A Winged Victory For The SullenA Winged Victory For The Sullen
Nothing bad could come from a project formed by Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie (Stars Of The Lid) - called A Winged Victory For The Sullen - and released on Erased Tapes. It's simple, logical and almost mandatory to expect something important from the union; especially if you know beforehand what it will provide you with musically and emotionally, without room for surprise or confusion. The problem, in the best possible sense of the word, is that, in spite of knowing very well what you're dealing with, the final result is considerably superior and more devastating than you had imagined. It's still early to come to these kinds of conclusions, but it's probably safe to say that the neo-classical scene has its best album of 2011.
The musical equation used by both artists isn't new. It's an orderly and predictable sum of the two styles: on one side, the chamber music piano, solemn and painful, of O’Halloran; on the other, the atmospheric passages of Stars Of The Lid, with a preference for strings. The two ideas work wonderfully well when they join forces, giving life to a sound that preserves the gliding mystery of SOTL but with the addition of the deep melodic carriage of O’Halloran's scores. The combination is lethal, subtle and elegant; like very few modern day artists can make it.
The neo-classical sound of “A Winged Victory For The Sullen” actually resembles soundtrack music; optimising the misty atmosphere with some melodies that give the whole a more organic consistency. It's an album without high or lows, constant, contained and well-measured even in its crescendos; which are there, and they're beautiful, too ( “Steep Hills Of Vicodin Tears” rises and rises without raising its voice more than necessary). It’s capable of maintaining the same tone at all times without diminishing its emotional intensity, probably the main pillar of the concept. Because apart from the tribute to Mark Linkous, orchestrated in the two parts of “Requiem For A Static King”, beyond the almost self-parodying titles ( “A Symphony Pathetique” and “All Farewells Are Sudden”) and the affected aesthetic of their staging - O’Halloran and Wiltzie have managed, without tricks or cheap effects, to give a heavy and moving emotional backdrop to some compositions that are bound to be in our memories forever.