Dustin O’Halloran
Fat Cat Records CD

It seems fitting, in a way, that pianist and composer Dustin O’Halloran calls Los Angeles home. His post-classical instrumental compositions are frequently evocative in a fashion that’s also come to be associated with (good) film music: atmospheric, melodically direct, and capable of expressing a wide range of emotions. And even though O’Halloran has become active as a film composer in recent years, scoring An American Affair and the upcoming Like Crazy (out in October), he remains involved in creating music separate from images that’s equally involving.

Lumiere, O’Halloran’s debut for the Fat Cat imprint, is some of his most arresting music to date. With sterling support from Jóhann Jóhannsson, who handles engineering and mixing duties and contributes electronics to the proceedings, as well as members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) recording the string parts, O’Halloran crafts more intricate arrangements than those found on previous albums. While elaborations don’t inherently enhance, here they allow O’Halloran’s piano to become one texture among many, a percussive foil for richly layered strings and synths. Passages reminiscent of Francophone neoclassicism, variously recalling Satie’s Gymnopedies and Parisian waltzes, as well stretches bell-tinged minimalism, are frequently present in this collection of compelling compositions. Here’s hoping that O’Halloran will be able to maintain both scoring and non-programmatic creation in the rotation for a long time to come.

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