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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Album Fri Nov 04 2011

Album Review: Capturing Stillness with A Winged Victory for the Sullen


A Winged Victory for the Sullen is the duo of Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltze and minimal composer Dustin O'Halloran. If O'Halloran's name seems familiar he wrote and performed the score to Sofia Coppala's film Marie Antoinette. A Winged Victory for the Sullen's self-titled debut unfolds with the delicacy of a Chopan piece performed on Vicodin. AWVFTS create music that lies in between the worlds of chamber pop, melancholy minimalist piano, and droning post rock. On paper the idea of the two working together could be dismissed as the audio equivalent of nice pastel wallpaper but the duo finds a unique space too hefty to be ambient yet impressionistic enough to glide around the edges of your mind. The songs float by as glaciers at noon across the ocean. The otherworldly compositions on AWVFTS' debut album released by Chicago's Kranky Records unfold at a pace that guides the listener into a state where moments freeze in time.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Steep Hills Of Vicodin Tears by erasedtapes

The duo made a record that falls as light as a shadow but carries human warmth. The two major players compliment each other perfectly. Dustin's understated piano playing reveals hidden paths as Adam carefully fills in gaps with droning guitar. O'Halloran favors repetitive piano arrangements as Wiltze weaves between with guitar work that phases in and out of focus. A string section of Hildur Gudnadottir on cello and Peter Broderick on violin perform on most tracks but are held in restraint. The strings creep in around the edges to compliment the slowly evolving songs. The surprise guest on the album comes in the form of the room reverb A Winged Victory for the Sullen utilize. The use of each of the cavernous room reverbs throughout the album is lushly layered. Each song sounds like it belongs in a very specific room in an old house. The living reverb gives Wiltze's drones a wash of color and intensifies the melancholy hues of O'Halloran's piano.

a requiem for the static king part one (PROMO VIDEO 2011) from A Winged Victory for the Sullen on Vimeo.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen has distilled a series of compositions that strongly influence the listener's sense of time. With this album on life becomes a series of slowly developing yet breathtakingly cropped perfectly focused photographs. It's a strong and heady dose of auditory opiates. A Winged Victory for the Sullen's debut album is available from Kranky Records.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen (DDR teaser 2011) from A Winged Victory for the Sullen on Vimeo.

The hardest part of writing about drone based music is putting words to how your body responds to the physical immensity of the tones. The study of audio triggered brain stimuli of psychophysics is slowly revealing how sound changes us. With that in mind these pieces will be even more engulfing in a live environment. A Winged Victory for the Sullen will be performing live on Sunday, November 6th at Lincoln Hall as part of the Kranky Records on Tour program. Wiltze and O'Halloran will be joined on stage by New York's ACME String Ensemble. Kranky Records on Tour also features a drone performances by Benoit Pioulard and Ken Camden of Chicago band Implodes. Tickets for Kranky Records on Tour are $20 and available from Lincoln Hall. 8pm. 21+. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N Lincoln Ave.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
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Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
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Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
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