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AIDAN O'ROURKE - Sirius

AIDAN O'ROURKE
Sirius
Vertical VERTCD072

Every one of these ten tracks was written and arranged by this Blazin' Fiddles member from Oban, so you'll understand that Sirius wasn't built in a day. The opening numbers 'Falun Fine' ('Outbound') and 'Bah Hamburg' hark back to tours in 2001, when Aidan was also playing with Tabache. More recently he inspired the fusion group Sunhoney, and at times the music here has that same elusive ethereal quality, but this album never strays towards the New Age or Easy Listening shelves. It's crisp and clear, with catchy melodies and powerful arrangements. Excitement is in plentiful supply: 'People's Park' is an adrenalin rush in the Riverdance style, full and satisfying. 'Lochaber Drive' is more in the West Coast style, evoking Aidan's Ulster roots with its driving rhythm and raw fiddle energy.

A dozen guest musicians add power and depth on most tracks: saxophones, trumpet, the usual back line, two other top Scottish fiddlers, plus Brian Finnegan from Flook and Harald Haugaard from Denmark. There's a delicacy and beauty to Aidan's fiddling on airs like 'Alyth' and 'Mangersta Beach', both wee gems. 'Hinba' and 'The Santa Cruz Redwoods' are somewhere in between, grand and stately. With the final track, 'Falun Fine' ('Return'), Aidan and friends pull everything together in a series of stunning solos from fiddles, whistle, trumpet, piano and sax. Sirius is bigger than one man, and the man at the centre of it is well worth hearing. Highly recommended.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 67 of The Living Tradition magazine.