Jun 3, 2018

Sundaze 1822


Today's artist was born September 8, 1971, in Los Angeles, California, USA was an foley artist of Rugrats, and All Grown Up!. A self-taught pianist from the age of 7. He has lived in LA, where he studied art at Santa Monica College and formed the much-adored Devics with Sara Lov, Italy (in the depths of rural Emilia Romagna) and Berlin. He gained recognition and critical acclaim for his studio albums and live performances. Dustin's score to Sofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette also earned him a tentative step into soundtrack work, which has since bloomed into a reputable and highly creative path of film composition. His arresting, heartbreaking music is as much an elegant exercise in nuance and grace as it is a pure, intuitive, personal expression ....N'joy

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American post-classical pianist and composer Dustin O'Halloran (born September 1971) began his musical life a guitarist. He has claimed in interviews that he didn't really begin to study the piano in earnest until he was in college and studying music. While attending Santa Monica College, he met Sara Lov and started the band Dévics. The quartet released four albums and six singles on Bella Union between 1998 and 2006. O'Halloran began to take the piano seriously while with the band, and then in formal music studies in both Italy and Berlin. He released his first two albums, entitled Piano Solos and Piano Solos 2 on Bella Union in 2004 and 2006, respectively. During the latter year he was given the opportunity to score filmmaker Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette. In 2009, he composed the score for director William Olsen's An American Affair, which was released on the Filter imprint. In 2010, he scored director Drake Doremus' feature Like Crazy (which won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011). Lumiere, his debut album for Fat Cat's orchestral 130701 imprint, was issued in February 2011 to stellar reviews. It featured O'Halloran's piano in a slightly more populated sonic field that included other musicians like the ACME Quartet, Stars of the Lid's Adam Wiltzie, and fellow composer Peter Broderick. This was followed by a live solo piano recording, Vorleben, on the same label in June of that year. Three months later, he and fellow classical/film composer Adam Wiltzie made their debut as A Winged Victory for the Sullen they released two albums, A Winged Victory for the Sullen (2011) and Atomos (2014). The latter is also the original score for the identically titled dance piece by choreographer Wayne McGregor and his company Wayne McGregor Random Dance. In 2015, they were invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the BBC Proms. The duo scored their first film together in 2016, entitled In the Shadow of Iris by French director Jalil Lespert.

In the meantime, demand for O'Halloran's film scores increased, and Milan released his soundtrack for the 2013 drama Breathe In. In 2014, he landed a regular gig on the Golden Globe-winning web series Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor. He won an Emmy for its theme music in 2015. Among other film and television work in the months that followed. In 2016, O’Halloran collaborated with Hauschka on the score for the Oscar-nominated film Lion. The score of the film was nominated for many major awards including the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards.

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Dustin O'Halloran (guitar/keyboards), Sara Lov (vocals), Ed Maxwell (bass), and Evan Schnabel (drums) comprise the dark, lush sounds of The Devics. Hailing from Los Angeles, The Devics arrived on the rock scene in the early 1990s with their own label, Splinter Records. In 1996, the band self-released their debut album, Buxom; two years later, If You Forget Me appeared. By the new millennium, The Devics derived an atmospheric, goth-like sound. The Ghost in the Girl EP showcased the band's music growth and Bella Union was impressed. The Devics inked a deal with Bella Union and issued My Beautiful Sinking Ship in 2001. Shows with Lift to Experience, Thalia Zedek, and Elysian Fields followed throughout 2002.

They convey a rather humble approach via Dustin O'Halloran's subliminally placed EFX and combo, twang-oriented hard rock guitar stylizations. Yet, vocalist Sara Lov's ability to gently caress a lyric or two provides the soft and somewhat dreamy aspects of this fine release. The group's rather enigmatic approach is vividly caught here as they meld elements of early-'70s Pink Floyd with wistful themes and a strangely appealing methodology consisting of memorably melodic hooks and surreal balladry. And while the limiting factors of commercial radio signify the antithesis of artistic invention, this lot should find expansive airplay throughout the college radio circuit. Hence, Devics is a band that melds a sense of conventionalism with a truly novel approach! Recommended.


It's difficult to categorize My Beautiful Sinking Ship, or the music of Devics for that matter, but the Los Angeles foursome travels down a truly inspired path here. Built around themes of ships and seas, the band touches upon influences and styles as diverse as shoegazer pop, cabaret playfulness, post-rock bombast, and piano bar jazz. Sara Lov handles most of the vocals, and she manages to recall Fiona Apple and Mojave 3's Rachel Goswell at the same time, using her voice as a brittle yet confident instrument. Dustin O'Halloran is responsible for virtually every instrument other than bass and drums, and he proves himself to be a match for peers like Jason Falkner and Jon Brion, though he deals with subject matter and motifs of a darker nature. With songs that are reminiscent of Apple, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Slowdive, and Bertolt Brecht all at once, while still suggesting a band who's fully in control of their own distinctive sound, the album is an intriguing and accomplished rush from start to finish. Though it runs for more than 60 minutes, there's never a sense that the band is being pretentious or that they should have left anything on the cutting-room floor. Whether pianos, keyboards, guitars, and drums are all pounding away with bombast or taking turns painting serene, mournful themes, every note rings true and strong. At turns epic and progressive and at other turns beautifully lush and peaceful, My Beautiful Sinking Ship seems like a long-lost classic from the vaults of 4AD. It's a delightful work of art that begs to be heard, and it's the kind of release that should send listeners scrambling for the band's back catalog.

Devics - My Beautiful Sinking Ship  (flac 350mb)

01 Heart and Hands 5:43
02 My Beautiful Sinking Ship 3:40
03 You in the Glass 3:45
04 The Man I Love 5:47
05 You Could Walk Forever 4:42
06 Alone With You 5:09
07 Why I Chose to Never Grow 3:19
08 Living Behind the Sun 4:03
09 Forget Tomorrow 5:52
10 Lost at Sea 1:48
11 Gold in the Girl 5:57
12 I Broke Up 4:01
13 Heaven Please 3:46
14 Five Seconds to Hold You 3:54
15 Blood Red Orange 1:58

Devics - My Beautiful Sinking Ship  (ogg  131mb)

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More and more bands such as the Los Angeles, CA-based trio known as Devics have been stretching pop/rock to its limits during the advent of the new millennium. With this effort, the group provides a glittering example of sorts -- where rock music continues to undergo an ongoing transformation -- regardless of commercial viability. In addition, Devics also utilizes the studio gizmos to great effect. They convey a rather humble approach via Dustin O'Halloran's subliminally placed EFX and combo, twang-oriented hard rock guitar stylizations. Yet, vocalist Sara Lov's ability to gently caress a lyric or two provides the soft and somewhat dreamy aspects of this fine release. The group's rather enigmatic approach is vividly caught here as they meld elements of early-'70s Pink Floyd with wistful themes and a strangely appealing methodology consisting of memorably melodic hooks and surreal balladry. And while the limiting factors of commercial radio signify the antithesis of artistic invention, this lot should find expansive airplay throughout the college radio circuit. Hence, Devics is a band that melds a sense of conventionalism with a truly novel approach!

Devics - The Stars At Saint Andrea  (flac 238mb)

01 Red Morning 4:42
02 Don't Take It Away 4:34
03 In Your Room 4:59
04 My True Love 5:36
05 All Your Beautiful Trees 4:35
06 The End And The Beginning 4:35
07 Safer Shores 4:44
08 Connected By A String 3:45
09 Stretch Out Your Arms 4:09
10 Ending 2:01

Devics - The Stars At Saint Andrea  (ogg  90mb)

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On their fourth full-length album, Devics don't stray far from their usual ethereal piano-plus-sampler, late-night vibe. Sara Lov again provides the majority of the vocals, her voice coming across as a restrained blend of Hope Sandoval, Mary Timony, and Kristin Hersh while offering up tales of love, lies, and loss. Lov's instrument is certainly lulling, but not that distinctive, especially within the confines of Dustin O'Halloran's shoegazer-like audio web. Too often, O'Halloran layers in the same cooing background hum, to the point where the album nearly devolves into an aural bout of coffee-table lethargy. With many of the songs rolling along at a slow drizzle, only the Mum-like "Secret Message to You," with its typewriter sound effect glitch, and the fractured "Just One Breath" really pick up steam. "Distant Radio," in theme and execution, travels a bit too far into Mojave 3 mimicry but lacks the bombast that put that group over the top. O'Halloran's deeper vocal contributions are a nice contrast, but can't match the subtlety or texture of influences like Leonard Cohen or Richard Hawley. Album closer "Come Up" is particularly pretty. Still, one gets the sense that this is an album recorded with white gloves, and the calculation behind the tunes is nearly tangible. With more variation, more separation in the mix, and a bit more conviction and passion overall, Push the Heart would be easier to recommend. As it stands, it's just a slightly-better-than-average indie chamber pop excursion.

Devics - Push The Heart  (flac 271mb)

01 Lie To Me 3:04
02 A Secret Message To You 4:59
03 Salty Seas 4:14
04 Song For A Sleeping Girl 4:36
05 Distant Radio 4:54
06 Just One Breath 3:55
07 Moments 4:45
08 If We Cannot See 5:11
09 City Lights 3:58
10 Come Up 4:02

Devics - Push The Heart  (ogg  103mb)

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Pianist/composer Dustin O'Halloran and composer/engineer Adam Wiltzie met through a mutual friend in 2007, when Wiltzie was performing with Sparklehorse in Bologna, Italy. Backstage, the two musicians struck up a friendship that developed into A Winged Victory for the Sullen, an outlet for what they've termed "harmonic Robitussin." Over the course of two years, O'Halloran (formerly of Devics and the composer of the score for Marie Antoinette, among other films) and Wiltzie (known most for his role as one-half of Stars of the Lid) worked on their self-titled album, released in 2011 through the Kranky and Erased Tapes labels. Recorded and mixed in German, Belgian, and Italian studios with numerous musicians on instruments such as cello, harp, viola, violin, French horn, and bassoon, it was one of the year's most impressive ambient-neoclassical albums. In 2012 and 2013, contributions were made to compilations released by Erased Tapes (Erased Tapes IV, Erased Tapes V) and Ghostly International (SMM: Opiate), while a track from the self-titled album appeared on the soundtrack for Breathe In -- which featured an O'Halloran score. Commissioned to provide the music for a piece by a dance company, Wayne McGregor Random Dance, the duo made Atomos, another expansive album recorded in several locations. Preceded by an EP in April 2014 that featured a remix from Ben Frost, Atomos was released via Kranky and Erased Tapes that October. The pair then went on to make their foray into the world of film composition with Wiltzie releasing his score for the documentary film Salero in late 2016. The duo also released their first collaborative score as A Winged Victory for the Sullen for the French thriller/drama, Iris, in early 2017.


Starting with the steady, contemplative piano and slight feedback on the opening "We Played Some Open Chords," A Winged Victory for the Sullen can't be called a barrel of laughs per se, but their song titles -- not to mention their band name -- suggest a knowing playfulness with the conventions of moodily beautiful 21st century drone/ambient. Given that the core members are composer Dustin O'Halloran and Stars of the Lid veteran Adam Wiltzie, it's little surprise that both those conventions, and how to work well beyond them, are within their grasp on this debut release. Much like some Stars of the Lid releases, the album and song names may verge on the wry, but without that context, something like the slow strings and feeling of suffused sorrow on the first part of "Requiem for the Static King," or the involving textures of "Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears" simply are what they are, and quite beautifully so at that. While the sonic connections to the members' past work are clear, so are the distinctions; if the duo is less about full-on beautiful drones than Stars of the Lid often were, there's a similar appreciation for the slowly unfolding and the calmly insular, touchstones ranging as far as George Winston as Eno ("A Symphony Pathetique," almost exclusively piano aside from some distant shading that appears a little more clearly toward the end, is arguably the extreme of this approach on the album, elegantly done every step of the way). Even with the titular or seeming snark brought to bear, the feeling often seems simply appropriate more than anything else -- "Minuet for a Cheap Piano" is almost just that, counting the extra layered tones in the background, while "All Farewells Are Sudden" doesn't close out the album on a quick, final note but a soft, string piece fade, a slow wheezing of tone and delay that's a conclusion and a half when it comes to wrapping things up with a gentle bow.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - I (flac 170mb)

01 We Played Some Open Chords And Rejoiced, For The Earth Had Circled The Sun Yet Another Year 6:18
02 Requiem For The Static King Part One 2:46
03 Requiem For The Static King Part Two 7:37
04 Minuet For A Cheap Piano Number Two 3:09
05 Steep Hills Of Vicodin Tears 4:27
06 A Symphony Pathétique 12:42
07 All Farewells Are Sudden 7:35

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Between the release of their self-titled 2011 debut and the recording of this, their second album, Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O'Halloran's studio work as a Winged Victory for the Sullen was limited to appearances on compilations released by Erased Tapes and Ghostly International. Commissioned by choreographer Wayne McGregor for his Random Dance production of the same title, Atomos supplies another hour of what the duo terms "harmonic robitussin." While this material was composed and recorded to suit a specific purpose, it resembles a proper follow-up that varies only slightly from the debut. The only obvious difference here is in the presence of some droning organ and a little bass, along with an apparent increase in Wiltzie's sound processing and sampling, like the soft bristles and TV or radio chatter dispersed throughout "Atomos X." As with the self-titled album, this is all glacial, entrancing ambient-neoclassical -- with O'Halloran's sensitive and melodic piano a central element -- that soothes, suitable for both foreground and background listening. "Atomos VII," issued separately (with a Ben Frost remix) prior to the album, is one of the duo's more forceful pieces, with gorgeously tugged and distended strings and a bass figure that, during the second half, bobs in and ducks out.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos  (flac 431mb)

01 I 10:22
02 II 4:19
03 III 4:56
04 V 4:12
05 VI 7:26
06 VII 7:49
07 VIII 5:14
08 IX 4:16
09 X 4:18
10 XI 5:26
11 XII 4:09
12 Minuet For A Cheap Piano Number One 4:09
13 Atomos VII (Greenhouse Re-Interpretation) 13:08

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Atomos  (ogg  163 mb)

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Belgium- and Germany-based ambient duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen have established quite a name for themselves by crafting beautiful soundscapes composed of piano, strings, and ambience. Here they use this foundation of compositional knowledge and fill it in with tricks and surprises to create a brilliant film score for French drama/thriller Iris. The duo’s effective use of reverbs and filters works wonders here, transporting the listener through an array of the same kinds of sounds, but they're treated whole-heartedly and differently with each moment. An early highlight is "Retour au Champs de Mars." Beginning with rich, forlorn strings and creeping deep bass, the piece falls away steeply into bars of foreboding, synthesized bass that swell and engulf the mix, rising, falling, and stabbing against waves of cellos that occupy every other bar. "Fantasme" develops in a bizarre way with a robotic bassline cutting in and out, and soft brass and violins climbing over the top of it. It feels like it’s going to build to some kind of crescendo but never does; instead delivering bittersweet and warm harmonies that envelop the whole track before suddenly disappearing into the distance without warning. What could be seen as a problem throughout is the pattern of sustain on the strings that move in and out of focus -- which is, of course, beautiful -- but AWVFTS seem to know how to vary this kind of orchestral treatment every time it appears. The strings in "Gard du Nord, Pt. 1" co-exist alongside delayed marimbas and static-tinged electronica, delivering a kind of wonderfully neutral sense of either imminent peril or approaching solitude, while "Le Retour en Foret" begins with a twinkling ambience that gradually morphs into a tragic cacophony of sound with surging distortion bubbling beneath and a digital organ-like harmony that adorns the rest of it. Something that should be noted is that the score is pretty much entirely absent of any percussion (bar the use of highly compressed, punchy bass notes) that, quite honestly, is refreshing. Considering the frequent trend of bombastic drums and blasting bass in cinema, it’s nice to hear a soundtrack that is more concerned with evoking emotion and drama through the actual character of its sound, as opposed to the thundering, neo-classical palette that has become so hugely popular with the rise of the superhero trend at the box office. That said, the album’s final track, "Comme on a Dit," encapsulates this perfectly; closing out with a burgeoning, slow orchestra piece, this one builds and gets to a crescendo that was expected all along. Most notably, the track’s center point of lone piano notes that linger and resonate with rich reverb manages to say so much by saying very little.

A Winged Victory For The Sullen - Iris (flac 174mb)

01 Prologue Iris 4:09
02 Retour Au Champs De Mars 3:44
03 Fantasme 2:28
04 Gare Du Nord Part One 3:33
05 L'embauche 3:03
06 Le Retour En Foret 2:45
07 Metro Part Three 5:20
08 Flashback Antoine 2:32
09 Galerie 3:19
10 Le Renversement 2:16
11 Normandie 2:50
12 Comme On A Dit 4:16

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1 comment:

Louis Bova said...

Thank you for your continued upload of Dustin O'Halloran related releases ... a truly impressive collection of releases.