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Dustin O’Halloran – Piano Solos Vol. 2

Released on Filter US Recordings, 10/17/06

Dustin O’Halloran is one lucky guy. Having begun his musical career as one-half of the Los Angeles pop outfit Devics and touring with the likes of Black Heart Procession and Sea Wolf, he then began to record and release the classical piano opuses he has been writing over the past few years while in Italy. He released these on Devics’ label, home to bands such as Sigur Rós and The Panda Band, Filter US Recordings, which drew the attention of director Sofia Coppola who asked him to score two sections of her latest film Marie Antoinette. Not bad considering how difficult it is to get recognition for one's mainstream musical projects, not to mention solo piano opuses, one after the other, named by number only.

I will admit -- the album is rather daunting at first. After one or two good listen-throughs I began to panic. It seemed a little out of my realm. Each opus blended into the last and the hesitancy of his playing style made me anxious. It is just as it reads: Piano Solos, stark, lonely, stuttered, and eerie. O’Halloran plods through each piece with a slow persistency that lends to a steady build which, in the end, goes sadly nowhere. His style is timid and lackluster. This is an album for backgrounds, dinner parties, massages, and mega-budget movie soundtracks, anything with a more directed focus. It is a tough sell on its own.

Piano Solos Vol. 2 is atmospheric, open, expansive, bare, and subtle. It feels invasive and at times painfully soul bearing and confessional. There are qualities similar to that of composers Badalamenti and Morricone -- a sort of terrifying emptiness. However, where these men build to utter chaos, destruction, and rebirth, O’Halloran falls short and leaves the listener with little more than gentle builds, subtle melodies and forgettable climaxes.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars