On record: A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Iris (Erased Tapes)



For their third album A Winged Victory For The Sullen, the duo of Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, have turned to film. Given the deeply atmospheric music of their first two extended works this was perhaps an inevitable move, though was made at the suggestion of Iris director Jailil Lespert, who had discovered their music online.

The film Iris is a remake of Hideo Nakata’s mysterious thriller Chaos, and speaks of unexpected sightings and unexplained appearances. Ideal, you would think, for a moody soundtrack laden with menace.

What’s the music like?

The Prologue sets the brooding scene and establishes the duo’s sound, a combination of beautifully scored strings and subtly used electronics. The slowly oscillating harp and long chords set a wary atmosphere, which by the time of Retour Au Champs De Mars arrives has spilled over into outright threat.

There are no obvious melodies in this music, but as you listen more the harmonic movements become ever more inevitable, the conviction of the music increasingly strong. Galerie is especially effective, the sheen of strings broken by a striking, mottled piano, while in Le Renversement there is the effect of distant gunfire, a chilling effect over static held notes.

Does it all work?

Yes. The music is very slow moving, so is not ideal for every listening situation, but the quality of writing for strings and the ability to paint dark pictures make Iris an increasingly compelling listen.

The combination of subtly used modular synths and the strings is an effective one, especially on bigger sound systems, and the music has enough about it for each part of the soundtrack to stand on its own.

Is it recommended?

Yes. Once again A Winged Victory For The Sullen show their ability to create unique and rather eerie sound worlds, and while some might find their approach a bit too dark and foreboding, there is always a shaft of light to pierce the relative gloom.

Ben Hogwood

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