A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Atomos

Album Review by Chris Buckle | 30 Sep 2014
Album title: Atomos
Artist: A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Label: Erased Tapes
Release date: 6 Oct

A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s self-titled debut predetermined its melancholic mood via evocative track titles (Requiem for the Static King, Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears, All Farewells Are Sudden). Its august successor Atomos, by contrast, gives no such extratextual cues, with all eleven pieces christened equally and numbered I to XII (IV is passed over for reasons unknown). Progressing with a fluidity that reflects its origins in a production by choreographer Wayne McGregor, the results prove as masterfully cohesive as the uniform titling implies.

Across 63 sublime minutes, Atomos sustains an atmosphere that’s calm and clear enough to reflect varied emotions: elegiac, yes, but also suggesting warmth, positivity and countless sentiments too ephemeral to pin names on. Composed and recorded in a fraction of the time it took the duo to complete their debut, the album sees Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran evolve their neo-classical sound in subtle ways, retaining a palette of piano, strings and electronic drones but unlocking new expressive potential: for instance, the garbled chatter that haunts both IX and X, the latter’s grandeur eventually yielding to the encroaching distortion. With luck, AWVFTS will take the title’s Greek meaning (‘indivisible’) to heart, allowing this superlative partnership to flourish indefinitely.