Glistening electronics with a warm brass hum introduced the ambient neo-classical set that began on Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie’s most recent release, 2021’s ‘Invisible Cities’ with ‘So That The City Can Begin To Exist’, as cosmic visuals played out on a large, transparent screen behind which they performed along with an orchestra and 12-piece choir.

Piano keys descended amongst suspenseful abrasive bows in ‘The Celestial City’ and the murmurings of the choir in ‘The Dead Outnumber The Living’, with French horns. This segment of the set finished on ‘Total Perspective Vortex’, with aurora borealis visuals and two layers of male and female vocals, before a frenzied eco-cataclysm hit, with guitar and electronic feedback, and the screen dramatically dropped to the floor.

As the duo worked their way backwards, the second segment of their set was taken from the album before last, 2019’s ‘The Undivided Five’, starting on the playful piano of a short piece of soundtrack ingenuity called ‘The Haunted Victorian Pencil’. They moved onto the dual keys of ‘The Rhythm of a Dividing Pair’, the grumbling piano and eerie, trembling strings of ‘Our Lord Debussy’ and finished on their 2016 ‘Iris’ soundtrack, with the hazardous pulsing tone of ‘Retour au Champs de Mars’, with its chorus of monastic voices ending the track, after which the choir left the stage.

The final segment was taken from the album before the last, ‘Atomos’, which was originally a score premiered at Sadler’s Wells Theatre for a dance company. It contained stretches of strings in ‘Atomos III’ and cello drone sound and noise feedback in ‘Atomos VI’, then waves of bold brass crescendos in ‘Atomos VII’, from the EP of the same name. ‘Atomos X’ descended into radio transmission to end the album selection. The duo completed their set on their 2011 eponymous debut album, with the warm, graduating strings of ‘Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears’ ending the show.

13/05/23: A Winged Victory For The Sullen @ Barbican, London.

Photos © Andrew Telling.

© Ayisha Khan.