My Life In Records
With his stunning new album Luminaire out next week (or tomorrow, Feb 25, for those in Ireland), we'll be devoting a little bit of time to Dustin O'Halloran on the site over the coming days. There's a photogallery from this week's London show over here, a few words on the performance to follow and some glowing ones on the way for the album itself too. But first we asked the American-born/Berlin-based pianist and composer what records have defined different stages of his life and had an influence on both his earlier work on the Bella Union label and new output on Fat Cat's 130701 imprint:
This is the first record I remember hearing as a child. My parents loved it and seemed to be listening to him constantly. It honestly didn’t really move me so much, but I loved the record cover and somehow the music seemed to be the exact color of our furniture in the 70s: yellow and brown.
I Listened to this record a lot as a teenager. I loved how it appeared to have its own world to live in, almost a vacuum. It's so minimal and elemental, everything down to the bones.
This was the record that really inspired me to want to write my own music on the piano and just even play the piano. My piano teacher played me Nocturne N.1 in B flat, and I was mesmerized. I had to learn it. Every piece was a journey and I could listen to it endlessly. Still to this day it continues to unfold and contains some of the most incredible compositions for piano. The version I have has this wonderful slower tempo and feel, it's my favorite recording, a timeless masterpiece.
This was a collection of singles the Cocteau Twins released on 4Ad and it was the first time I had ever heard music like this. Something otherworldly, beautiful and intimate, but still with this edge, distortion and fuzzed out beauty. The sound of music underwater. It was what made me want to learn to play the guitar. I never wanted to play like Jimi Hendrix, or Clapton but like Robin Guthrie. Ironically years later with my own band Devics, I found myself on the label Bella Union which Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde of the Cocteau Twins had started.
This record blew my mind, so minimal and so powerful. It made realize how important every single note is and how powerful each note can be when they are played with full meaning. To me this is one of the most beautiful records of stark minimal music.
One my favorite records of all time. A timeless composition that you can always find new things in and a definite desert island record. It literally sounds like an orchestra underwater, being conducted by one of the great living composers of our time. A Genius.
I can never tire of listening to this. Pure timeless poetry. A good friend from Los Angeles’ mother is the infamous Suzanne and she told me how her mother even helped write some of the words. “That’s no way to say goodbye” just breaks my heart every time I listen to it. He made his first record in his 30s and I think sometimes to write with such depth you need have lived a little. It made me want to write songs.
This will always be his masterpiece in my mind. A record full of every emotion featuring one of the most amazing bands that can truly pull it off live. This album had a huge influence on me as it was so timeless and undefinable, something I always seek out in music.
I heard this record in my early 20s and immediately got his entire back catalogue. Yet this record always had a big influence on me, in how it showed a life in music, even a broken one. But perhaps the biggest influence was the phrasing in his playing and singing, the spaces were just as important as the notes, and it was so laid back, though you can always feel the heartbreak in there.
I listened to this a lot at the end of high school and it was the record that always made me feel like everything was going to be okay. I'm not sure why, maybe because they were all high on heroin at the time? But, anyway, it had such a space it lived in. You can feel the players in the room, and it contains some of the smoothest playing. I think it made me understand that a recording should capture a moment in time and you can tell this record was just that.