A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Iris

Album Review by Joe Goggins | 05 Jan 2017
  • A Winged Victory for the Sullen - Iris
Album title: Iris
Artist: A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Label: Erased Tapes
Release date: 13 Jan

A Winged Victory For The Sullen specialise in the cinematic, making music that can do drama in both the most sweeping terms and in the most nuanced. Their last record – although the term ‘collection of suites’ might be more apt – felt like the cleverest distillation yet of Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran’s fusion of classical and electronic, and this follow-up to Atomos was commissioned as the soundtrack to Iris, the fourth feature film from French director Jalil Lespert.

Crucially, what that means is that the pair were working to somebody else’s brief for the first time, both in terms of the music itself and its relationship to the movie and when editing the record for a stand-alone release; Erased Tapes label boss Robert Raths’ insisted that they cut it down from over an hour’s worth of material to a more approachable forty-one minutes. 

The resulting album feels like an exercise in understatement, and contextually it’s difficult to know whether it’s a case of self-restraint or a situation in which the shackles are being enforced. When it’s good, it’s really good - the shimmering atmospherics of Fantasme and Galerie are a couple of cases in point, while the burbling electronics on Retour au Champs de Mars feel like a throwback nod to Vangelis’ Blade Runner score – but elsewhere, you wish they’d push down just a little bit harder on the accelerator.

Tracks like Le Renversement are barely there, whilst Le Retour en Foret comes at the halfway mark and yet already feels as if it’s going over familiar ground. A Winged Victory for the Sullen still feel as if they’re in a lane of their own – it’s just that perhaps they’re at their best when they’re the only people in it.

Listen to: Fantasme, Galerie, Retour au Champs de Mars