James Maloney – Gaslight [Moderna Records]

The field of film & theater composers releasing debut albums of original compositions is ever-growing. For lovers of indie, modern, & post-classical music it is a healthy trend that means we are increasingly spoiled for choice, but it also raises the bar for the kinds of creativity and inventiveness needed to keep the genre fresh and compelling.  That is where artists like James Maloney come in.

Originally from Birmingham, having studied music at Oxford, and now the Music Associate at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Maloney has just released his debut solo record entitled Gaslight on Moderna Records. Conceived of largely at night as a reaction to the noise and the pace of city life and built around a closely mic’d old piano accompanied by trumpet, vibraphone, & glockenspiel, it sparkles with that elusive lustre of pure inspiration and effortless enchantment.

It only takes seconds for the cascading, watery light dance of notes of the opening “Seascapes” to fall under the album’s spell which is sustained by Maloney’s unique approach to delicately overlaying piano tracks (sometimes as many as 40!)  to create a shimmering miasma of notes. Some of these pieces have all the magic of an impressionist painting, forming a beautiful whole out of a myriad of seemingly random brush strokes (or key strokes in this case). But they are not random at all. The weight, texture, tone, and timbre of each note is just what is needed and none could be subtracted without diminishing the whole. Alternately playful and melancholic, but always beguiling, Gaslight is as refreshing as it is lovely and an exceptional debut from an artist we will hopefully be hearing a great deal more from.

Links:  Bandcamp (DL/CD)  |  Moderna Records  |  Artist website

Gaslight is now available from Moderna in a limited 4-panel digipack CD edition (200 copies) and digital download in a variety of formats. It features cover art by Mariam Iqbal.