A Winged Victory For The Sullen is the collaboration between Stars Of The Lid founder and Brussels resident Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie, and Berlin based composer Dustin O’Halloran. They met while Adam was touring with Sparklehorse and became friends after consuming a bottle of cheap bourbon.
Can’t get a more post-rock name than that, can you? But where Godspeed You Black Emperor or Explosions In The Sky are guitars first and strings second, Winged Victory are the other way ’round. A classical quartet with broad tastes. They have a grand piano!
It’s all very languorous and sombre. I take my hat off. Out of respect.
And it’s really lovely. Like a warm cuddle. I once heard a very famous piece of classical music (I forget which) slowed down so it lasted 24 hours. This sounds a bit like that.
I sit down. I readjust my expectations. The music washes over us in waves, a tide coming in. Every now and again sound builds into a huge, bassy crescendo and the floor and the air shake.
People come and go. I can understand. This is music which requires either precise attention, or surrender to the background. I don’t think a festival is the right environment. I think I’d like to hear this while looking at a beautiful sunset over mountains, or something equally majestic and natural.
Majestic might be the right word. This is like a soundtrack to a film I’ve never seen, but would like to. It’d be a lot of long, sweeping shots of beautiful vistas, with not a lot of action, but you’d probably shed a tear at the end and feel like you were a bit cleverer and more cultured for watching.
One song seems to bleed into the next. Because there’s no break in the music there’s no applause, which seems unfair. And it’s all over very quickly. I would have liked more.
The abrasive rasps of Phil Collins (of all people) intrude over the PA as I start to write this and the stage is prepared for the next act. Anything would feel harsh after Winged Victory, but this seems cruel and unusual.
I understand that Winged Victory for the Sullen aren’t for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. Probably the nicest way to get over a hangover, and I will certainly be picking up their music when I get home. I wonder what it’ll be the soundtrack to? Sex probably. I hope that’s a compliment; it’s meant to be!
And, finally, my quote for the album sleeve: “A Winged Victory for the Sullen: the absolute opposite of Phil Collins.”