A Winged Victory for the Sullen

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Atomos Review

by Andy Kellman

Between the release of their self-titled 2011 debut and the recording of this, their second album, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran's studio work as a Winged Victory for the Sullen was limited to appearances on compilations released by Erased Tapes and Ghostly International. Commissioned by choreographer Wayne McGregor for his Random Dance production of the same title, Atomos supplies another hour of what the duo terms "harmonic robitussin." While this material was composed and recorded to suit a specific purpose, it resembles a proper follow-up that varies only slightly from the debut. The only obvious difference here is in the presence of some droning organ and a little bass, along with an apparent increase in Wiltzie's sound processing and sampling, like the soft bristles and TV or radio chatter dispersed throughout "Atomos X." As with the self-titled album, this is all glacial, entrancing ambient-neoclassical -- with O'Halloran's sensitive and melodic piano a central element -- that soothes, suitable for both foreground and background listening. "Atomos VII," issued separately (with a Ben Frost remix) prior to the album, is one of the duo's more forceful pieces, with gorgeously tugged and distended strings and a bass figure that, during the second half, bobs in and ducks out.

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