Link to Living Tradition Homepage





AIDAN O'ROURKE - 365: Volume 1 

AIDAN O'ROURKE - 365: Volume 1 
Reveal Records REVEAL074CDX

A 22-track double CD from this innovative Oban fiddler, and from the title you might guess that this is a “tune a day for a year” project. Several fiddlers worldwide have done something similar, but O'Rourke has significantly raised the bar. Not only is he recording 365 tunes, he is composing every one of them himself. To be fair, he's had a bit of help. The inspiration for this mammoth undertaking came from James Robertson's book 365, a collection of short stories, which explains the unusual track names:  I assume they are the opening lines of each day's story.

I'm sure you've already done the maths and worked out that 22 tracks leaves 343 still to go, meaning another 31 albums. From the press release, it seems Aidan is not planning to put all these tunes on CD - at least not immediately - but will perform the bulk of them live in a series of concerts. This album is 365: Volume 1 though, which suggests we can expect at least a 365: Volume 2 in due course.

So what's it like? Surprisingly polished for one thing - although Aidan does point out that he started this task in 2015 and it took almost three years to get to this point. From the smooth opening track to the spiky slightly Scandinavian Do People Still Do This?, the slow reel-like I Was An Experiment to The Room Is In Darkness with its danse macabre feel, the pieces here are almost all descriptive, evocative, and without reading the stories it's hard to be sure what they describe. Some are almost ambient, others more rhythmic or melodic. Perhaps the closest this CD comes to traditional dance forms is I Used Not To Be Able To Read On Buses, a contemporary reel which conveys the chugging progress of public transport, but there are some beautiful slow airs here and some hair-raising moments too. The fiddle is accompanied on piano and harmonium by Kit Downes, sometimes up front and powerful, sometimes hardly there at all, and the interplay between these instruments comes close to Lau land at times although there's little of the acoustic experimentation of Lau here: just exquisite fiddle and thoughtful arrangements on a whole heap of intriguing new music.

Alex Monaghan

Secure On-line mailorder service
Many CDs we review are available from The Listening Post.
Check to see if this CD is available.

The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.