A Winged Victory for the Sullen: Atmos
While one may seek to gain strength during a stay in solitude, one should not do without music. Atmos (62’30”) will be the perfect companion on those occasions when we do not want to have one. Atmos is the second full-length CD by A Winged Victory for the Sullen – the ensemble headed up by Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran. This mesmerizing album of chamber ensemble, clear grand piano, breathing blissed-out electric guitar and various manipulations of sound visits a realm shared by minimalist Philip Glass, quietist Arvo Pärt and theorist Brian Eno. Known for the drift away from narrative on their 2011 self-titled debut, AWVftS moved beautifully towards landscape – from performed event to sonic space. Atmos does contain a number of these places of ambient otherness, but a few of the 11 tracks also produce musical activity with relationships to thematic forms. Over their brief spell compositions featuring rotating chord transpositions will be felt on an emotional level as adjacent pieces find the group creating a sonic timelessness through dramatic bass, digital atmospherics and a slowly scored tensile string section. Since its inception AWVftS has been an avid international touring entity. Experiences in reverberant church sanctuaries, pristine auditoriums and murmuring cafes and bars have Wiltzie and O’Halloran imagining that music is an arrangement of objects in space. They know how long it takes any sound to travel through the hall. As chords and melodic fragments float along surrounded by thick silence, their sonorities are given time to reverberate inside the listener’s mind. From its nearly stationary textures to structured, goal-oriented harmonic narratives, AWVftS allows their music to unfold moment by moment – as we listeners hope to feel that moment of grace music seems to generate from time to time.