Adam Wiltzie, one half of Stars of the Lid, paired up with pianist Dustin O’Halloran to form A WINGED VICTORY FOR THE SULLEN. The duo’s newest release, Atomos, serves as their sophomore album to 2011’s excellent self-titled release. The new album was scored for contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor’s production, Atomos.
Whereas A Winged Victory for the Sullen featured bright strings and melodic patches of piano, Atomos features less piano and more synth-based accompaniment. The album is a bit longer than their self-titled, clocking in at just over an hour long, but the album does not feel inaccessible by any means. Atomos flows together as one long piece, leaving listeners completely absorbed in the music until the album closes.
Each song is cryptically titled “Atomos” and followed by a roman numeral, which reinforces the idea of listening to the album as one complete piece rather than individual songs. With that being said, however, there are a several cuts that make a stronger impression than others.
“Atomos VI” demonstrates this, with the piece growing to create a full sound. The middle of the track sees a blown out synth playing over a simple piano piece and fluttering string arrangement. “Atomos XI” follows in a similar suit, featuring a haunting piano and ever-increasing energy. This sets “Atomos XII” up for a beautiful closing of the album.
With Atomos, A Winged Victory for the Sullen perfectly balances open ambiance with thoughtful composition. Listeners will run through a scale of emotions during the course of the album, satisfying various levels of musical cravings along the way.