A Winged Victory For The Sullen Debut on Ninja Tune with New Album, ‘The Undivided Five’
'The Undivided Five' is out on November 1.
The nine-track album is inspired in part by the artist Hilma af Klint, whose spiritual influences shaped the duo’s work in light of the death of Jóhann Jóhannsson, a close friend. Within weeks of the funeral, band member Dustin O’Halloran found out that he would be expecting his first child, and it was soon after that a visit to see the art of of Klint brought home a profound realisation of life, death, the afterlife, and the spaces in between. She belonged to a group called “The Five,” a circle of five women with a shared belief in the importance of trying to make contact with spirits, often by way of séances. This chimed with the duo’s unspoken approach to collaboration, and nudged them to return to their writing process centered around the harmonic perfect fifth; the five senses, the divine interval—The Undivided Five.
The album was also shaped by the breadth of locations in which it was created. In addition to O’Halloran and Wiltzie’s respective Berlin and Brussels studios, the record took shape across six different sites. They recorded orchestral samples in Budapest’s Magyar Rádió Studio 22, re-recorded album parts in Brussels’ Eglise Du Beguinage’s unique, reverb-heavy surrounds, experimented with overdubs in Ben Frost’s Reykjavik studio, and recorded grand piano parts in a remote woodland studio in northern Italy. And it’s in Francesco Donadello’s studio in Berlin, where all of the previous AWVFTS material has been mixed, that the album was run through the studio’s analog board, binding the record’s different parts together.
Their connection to Jóhannsson also partly shaped the direction of the album. They were asked to create a remix for him, which he heard before his death in 2018, where they unlocked a new process in terms of how they work. They recomposed the strings, using modular synthesis, old synths, and string and piano arrangements, a method they applied to album opener “Our Lord Debussy.” “It’s about going into the DNA of music and taking different strands,” they say.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen is made up of Dustin O’Halloran—a pianist who has notably worked with Sofia Coppola, Jill Soloway (for his Emmy winning theme song to “Transparent”) and been Oscar-nominated for his score to the film “Lion”—and Adam Wiltzie—a one time big tennis prospect, who is one of the most respected composers in his field, particularly as a founding member of lauded ambient-classical groups Stars of the Lid, The Dead Texan, and Aix Em Klemm. Discounting the two major scores they were commissioned for, this is really only their second album, written on their own terms and timeline.
The art for the album has been created by Davy Evans, who has worked with The xx and Karen O.
01. Our Lord Debussy
02. Sullen Sonata
03. The Haunted Victorian Pencil
04. The Slow Descent Has Begun
05. Aqualung, Motherfucker
06. A Minor Fifth Is Made Of Phantoms
07. Adios, Florida
08. The Rhythm Of A Dividing Pair
09. Keep It Dark, Deutschland
The Undivided Five is out on November 1, with “The Rhythm Of A Dividing Pair” streaming below, and pre-order HERE.