Pure bliss
A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Live At Cecil Sharp House, London

Sometimes there are just gigs that stand out, raise themselves amongst the rest, and leave you in deep thought for days afterwards. You play over the moments in your head - the captive little snatches of bass that kept melting your brain, the breath of excursion as each track ends. Those feelings come from a deep dark place, an emotional place, and they’re powerful. They never leave you. A Winged Victory for The Sullen were all of those things at Cecil Sharp House.

Playing to a captive audience at their first ever London show, the duo are immersed; just as drawn away from reality as the crowd are. They turn moments to minutes of pure bliss, leaving chills with the ambient soundscapes they seem to develop from the simplest of setups. There are only strings, a guitar and a piano at work here, yet they make the sound of the heavens, drawing us all somehow closer to a surreal state of unconsciousness.

As each throb of riveting bass collides with the walls of Cecil Sharp House they intertwine themselves amongst a pattern of different sounds. Just as each touch of ivory resonates a different emotion in the listener. The strings section confines themselves to a circle, seemingly bouncing off each other to create playful harmonies that bound beautifully under each deep wave of velocity. There’s something so perfect and at peace about the gig, something that lets its audience sit idly back and stare deep into a ceiling of different patterns without the fear of looking like an idiot or missing a moment. Something that makes this scene feel a little bit perfect.

Each flick and layer of sound makes the audience tickle with intense vibrations. Yet this ball of sound, this mass of energy still doesn’t take away from the chill of the hall, the epiphany of it’s grandeur becoming a beacon of shivering bodies.

Tonight’s performance is “7 pieces of music about broken hearts and dead people,” or seven haunting tales of intense power and strange optimism - the fairytale story of the engineer and the composer collaborating. And it makes for the most wonderful of gigs.

There’s a story to my crusades with A Winged Victory For The Sullen, something that’s drawn me away from ever being able to properly appreciate them, but that changed tonight. I’d never been able to get through their record without being sent to the calming world of dreams and lullabies. But that’s A Winged Victory, in one word - a lullaby, the surreal dream-like pleasure.

Words by Robbie Wojciechowski

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