Aidan O’Rourke: 365 Volume One

review orourke x1 cong

Top marks for O’Rourke for inventiveness; he wrote a tune a day for a year, hence the title. The inspiration was James Robertson’s book 365, itself remarkable: a collection of 365 short stories, each with 365 words. O’Rourke is recording all 365 — 22 down, 343 to go after this — but only releasing the best over two CDs. O’Rourke, a fiddler and member of Lau and Blazin’ Fiddles, is accompanied by Kit Downes on harmonium and piano.

Despite the long song titles —Sometimes He Felt He Could Live Permanently in a Hotel and I Used Not to Be Able to Read on Buses are typical (the titles of the stories or first lines, we assume) — it’s simple and slow music. There’s no percussion, although some of the tunes lean towards reels. It’s all solidly played, too: we jotted down “polished” and “solid” in our notes, and then couldn’t get an oak table out of our heads. But like an old table, there’s something comforting about the rather ethereal music on this CD.

The pieces are all impressions of the stories, so they try to be evocative. As we say, no percussion and the sound ranges from little more than ambient (the opener) to reels of a sort, all with a Scottish lilt.

The Press notes link Downes with jazz and Maurice Ravel, and you can hear both (and a splash of Mussorgsky at one point). One for folk fans who wants something a little reflective to play of an evening.

We also bought the book: it’s great. The short stories really nudge the imagination.


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