By Alexander Kim, October 16 2014 —
A Winged Victory for the Sullen is an ambient, neo-classical duo who create instrumental soundscapes of droning synths, melodic strings and sparse piano. Their work makes you want to use words like ‘celestial’ and ‘sprawling’ to describe their sound.
Atomos is the band’s second full-length release. It could easily be the soundtrack to your next study session, but the album works best when paired with visuals. This makes sense considering it was originally composed to score a contemporary dance piece of the same name.
In fact, it’s difficult to describe the record without using visual references.
The first track, “Atomos I,” begins with droning organ tones. It feels like you’re floating away from the ground or sinking slowly beneath the ocean. As a layer of arpeggiated strings is added, we’re soaring above cities at night, or swimming amongst sharp rock formations on the ocean floor. The strings and organ fall away. We’ve died beautifully, succumbing to hypothermia under the stars or exhausting our oxygen supply at the bottom of the world.
The music is dramatic and affecting, with ambiguous emotional cues. The same sounds are adventurous or mournful when listened to in different contexts. As a result, Atomos feels right in just about any scene.
Atomos is a great soundtrack for a walk in the woods, a midnight drive, or a long transit commute during rush hour. Listening to Atomos as one of the many people on Earth doing their best to tolerate a morning commute makes me feel oddly connected to the human species.