We live in difficult, and in some ways terrible, times : wars, a shattered economy, social unrest; turn on the wretched TV and its there all the time. Some will rail and rage against it all and in the past much excellent music has been created, and come to represent, such times – Ghost Town, War, take your pick there are many such tracks.
On a personal level I have found myself slipping more and more into introspective, ever quieter music – the outstanding folk/electronia of Jon Hopkins and King Creosote, the trippy drone space of Stage Hare and more recently Wyld Wyzrd, the astonishing piano of Nils Frahm (also on Erased Tapes), and here is set of music that seems almost explicitly made for my state of mind.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen is a collaboration between American composer Dustin O’Halloran & Adam Wiltzie ex of Sparklehorse (a helpful run through how this all came together is on the Erased Tapes pages). Here is music of that post/neo-classical bent, created in vast spaces such as the Grundwald church in Berlin, using huge seven foot grand pianos, strings, horns, bassoon and synths, that whilst sombre and calming is triumphant and uplifting. O’Halloran and Wiltzie are joined by Icelander Hildur Gudnadotti on cello and Erased Tapes label mate Peter Broderick on violin.
Sparkelhorse this ain’t, although the two part Requiem was written for Mark Linkous on his untimely death. Some track names clearly tell you not to expect any indie rock stuff here: A Symphony Pathetique, We Played Some Open Chords and Rejoiced for the Earth had Circled the Sun Yet Another Year – but a blending of the classical, drone infused and post-rock in the most sublime of combinations.
This is truly heart-stoppingly sublime, magnificent, intensely moving and emotional stuff. Unutterably wonderful, I cannot stop playing , not only will it be up there for that most vacuous of ‘prizes’, “Album of the Year”, but in many respects might also define the year in question.
I am not the first to say that the track Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears seems prescient, Vicodin is a painkiller for moderate pain and here is a track that soothes, calms and insulates
Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears – A Winged Victory for the Sullen