Three years after their outstanding debut A Winged Victory For The Sullen release their second album upon the world. This duo, consisting of Dustin O'Halloran and Adam Wiltzie has been around since 2011 but both men have had a lot of experience in solo projects as well as in bands like Stars of The Lid, Devics and the Dead Texan. ’The album, Atomos, is available on digital download, CD and double LP and it’s no surprise that Erased Tapes has something to do with it. Erased Tapes is surely one of the most trustworthy labels active today and is often credited as one of the best labels for modern classical music. They’ve been filling up my record collection, that’s for sure.
But we’re not here to review a label, nor to suck up to them. We’re here to review an album. The biography mentions that Atomos is originally written for contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor’s (London Royal Ballet) newest dance performance. Maybe it’s me but I can’t see anyone actually dancing to this, so here’s another idea. After a busy day, close the curtains, dim the lights, light up the fireplace (or go to YouTube and search for ‘fireplace’), sit or lay down with a loved one and let the music take over. The breath-taking blend of modern classical and ambient music will undoubtedly take you on a journey you won’t easily forget.
It took AWVFTS almost three years to record this follow-up for their untitled debut, something you can definitely hear. O’Halloran’s piano play blends in perfectly well with the ambient drones Wiltzie produces and the dreamy string arrangements. The analog elements, the strings and piano really give the album something extra. It never sounds like an ambient album but it doesn’t really sound like typical elitist classical music either. It transcends these genres and reaches a dimension of its own. The result is simply beautiful, a constant flow of musical landscapes where even the pauses between tones are exciting.
The most striking elements are the in- and out fading little sounds, ever shifting and changing. It’s these little bits and pieces that form the glue between the eleven tracks. They provide pace and motion. Sometimes it’s a violin ‘riff’, sometimes a faraway piano or and electronically altered sample and sometimes a nifty bass line from a cello. They contrast with the atmospheric soundscapes and make the whole come alive, even at a low volume level.
So to conclude, what we’re dealing with here is surely one of the best albums of 2014. Atomos is a great piece of work. It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time. Sometimes it sounds very familiar and sometimes it’s a bit weird. Absolutely recommended.