Dance choreographer Wayne McGregor has unusually wonderful taste when it comes to picking music to work with and musicians to work for. Here he has commissioned A Winged Victory For The Sullen to score his latest dance project and the result is an album that stands out on its own – a soundtrack for your thoughts and movements completely unrelated to any show or performance.
A Winged Victory is ambient duo Dustin O’Halloran (solo pianist/film composer) and Adam Wiltzie (sound engineer, composer and member of the drone duo Stars of the Lid). The music they have made for Atomos – their music that is Atomos, follow up to the duo’s 2011 self-titled debut, is a spectral work that exists in the spaces between Nils Frahm’s idea of contemporary classical, the post-rock of Hammock, the music of Arvo Part and the film scores of Abe Korzeniowski. More than once you’ll think of his work for the movie A Single Man as this music envelops the room.
The textures, the space, the surges, it’s music that’s come from Philip Glass and Yann Tiersen; music that channels melancholy so sublimely, the themes slowly building, brooding, moving thoughtfully through as a connected piece.
There’s an enormity to the work – taken (as it should be) as a whole. And it achieves that rare feat where it truly feels like the only thing that matters while it’s happening. The 11 numbered pieces here, or parts, create a slow-burn that reminds of so many things – but never ever quite sounds like anything else.
Again, that’s a rare feat – to have these obvious contemporary classical/post-rock/electronica/modern-composition touchstones but to shadowing and shading the whole time, making a sound borne of its own.
Atomos is easily one of the albums I’ve listened to the most this year. It’s not easy-listening, sometimes not an easy listen but somehow always easy to decide to listen to this; in fact it very quickly becomes a must-have element. The music that coaxes you to sleep, that assists you in waking up, that is by your side as you travel through both day and night – it’s calming and curious as a devised work, a set of pieces existing as (gentle) score for an existing work and yet it feels like you’ve commissioned your own private composers. And they’ve made the work of your dreams.