About Aidan O’Rourke
Scottish fiddler, composer and producer Aidan O’Rourke (Lau) reaches the final instalment of his epic 30-album (digital) project ‘365: Complete Works’ in December 2020.
To mark the moment, Reveal Records are issuing a deluxe double CD featuring highlights of the cycle.
The Best of 365 is a masterpiece of new Scottish fiddle music from one of the folk world’s boldest innovators. Steeped in tradition, restlessly breaking new ground, O’Rourke is renowned for the rich grain of his fiddle sound, for the stripped-back lyricism of his phrasing and for penning boundary-defying tunes that are full of ancient truths and off-kilter wit.
In this project, O’Rourke collaborates with celebrated jazz pianist/harmonium player Kit Downes (ECM) to create a unique new duo sound. While in some hands the meeting of folk melody and jazz harmony strays into questionable fusion and risks undermining the integrity of both genres, in the hands of O’Rourke and Downes an extraordinary new language emerges that is exploratory, fresh and profoundly emotive. The Best of 365 also sees O’Rourke going back to his traditional roots with Edinburgh harpist Esther Swift and Mull guitarist Sorren Maclean. The album’s 30 tracks are an unparalleled showcase of artful fiddle playing and distilled musical storytelling.
“This Best of is the culmination of a gargantuan four-year mission which has pushed me in so many new directions. Working with Kit, Sorren and Esther has teased out multiple aspects of my playing. James Robertson’s way with words – his wise concision, his tenderness, his rootedness in old Scottish folk tales and deftness as reworking them – has been an endless source of inspiration. I’ve emerged out the other end of this project a different player and composer, no question. Certainly I’ve gained a strong instinct that less is more – ironic, yes, given the absurd number of tunes! If not in quantity, in terms of the power of brevity. Perhaps James’s writing encouraged me to leave more space around notes. And for me, that space has provided an essential antithesis to the noisy political backdrop we find ourselves in.’
In 2013, Scottish author James Robertson wrote a short story every day for a year. What began as a personal writing exercise (each story was to contain exactly 365 words) became a boundless collection of fairytales, memories and provocations, published by Penguin. A couple of years later, O’Rourke matched the endeavour by composing a fiddle tune every day in response to Robertson’s stories, and the result is a vast new body of tunes – a major addition to the Scottish traditional music repertoire.
Praise for 365
SCOTTISH NEW MUSIC AWARD WINNER 2020
“365 is a huge undertaking by an obviously dedicated artist determined to realise an ambitious vision. Sky-high quality and a strong sense of artistic progression – an excellent piece of work”
ALBUM OF THE MONTH : FOLKRADIO.CO.UK
“It’s as if Debussy and Ravel were orchestrating Scottish Folk – truly beautiful”
“Stories become music with the same succinct, meaningful style”
“Exquisite fiddle and thoughtful arrangements on a whole heap of intriguing new music – O’Rourke has significantly raised the bar”
“A huge range of textures – new and unusual – you have to admire O’Rourke as a composer for being so prolific without resorting to repetition or minor variation”
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
“An interesting exercise in music responding to James Robertson’s short stories, inspiring some beautiful nuggets from O’Rourke and piano/harmonium player Kit Downes”
“The musicianship is exquisite and each track weaves its tale with ease and creates little sparks of magic along the way – challenging, inspiring and ultimately hugely rewarding, a triumph”
BLUES AND ROOTS RADIO
“Sometimes the tightest parameters inspire the best work”
“An interesting, and more importantly, successful experimentation in the relationship between literature and music”
BRIGHT YOUNG FOLK
Produced by Aidan O’Rourke
Fiddle – Aidan O’Rourke
Piano/harmonium – Kit Downes
Harp – Esther Swift
Guitar – Sorren Maclean
Artwork by Dalziel + Scullion
Sequenced by Tom Rose
Recorded and mixed by Mattie Foulds at Caribou Recordings
Additional recording by Gordon Maclean at An Tobar
Additional mixing by Calum Malcolm
Mastered by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios
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