Album Review A Winged Victory For The Sullen - A Winged Victory For The Sullen

In small doses, this lonely Eno-esque world with strings is calming and undeniably emotional.

Instrumental music isn’t always the easiest sell to those used to more conventional strands of popular music. By its very nature, the absence of lyrics means each song’s focus is shifted, attention is drawn instead to subtle changes in tempo, volume and texture. When it works, this lyric-free medium can be awe-inspiring and thrilling in equal measure - take a close look at the sheer functionality and creativity of Godspeed You Black Emperor! as a strong example of what this genre can offer.

Yet this collaboration between Stars Of The Lid founding member Adam Wiltzie and composer Dustin O’Halloran is a beguiling serving of desolate ambiance that occasionally delights on a classical sense yet ultimately frustrates.

Treading at times dangerously close to mainstream chillout from the earlier on in the millennium, these soothing soundscapes are, if anything, certainly beautiful. Opening shot ‘We Played Some Open Chords’ glides along like a sombre ode to a slow Sunday, it’s strings effective and elegant, a process repeated again in the ‘Requiem For The Static King Part 1’.

Come track three however and the alarm bells start to ring. Tracks ebb and flow seamlessly into each other, at times too slowly, which would be less of an issue if the songs offered up something fresh from its predecessor.

‘Minuet For A Cheap Piano’ throws in the use of piano as the main focal point yet does little to deviate from the hushed tones of everything else on this seven track long-player. By the time the near-thirteen minute beast of ‘A Symphony Pathetique’ rears its head, it’s tempting to just write this album off as something that is too easily lost in the background even though the opening 10 minutes would suggest otherwise.

In small doses, this lonely Eno-esque world with strings is calming and undeniably emotional, yet as a whole it sorely lacks a sense of adventure to make it anything more than classy lift music.