Aidan O’Rourke - An Tobar

Aidan O’Rourke - An Tobar
Navigator Records Navigator24

Commissioned for the 10th anniversary of An Tobar, the Tobermory Arts Centre on the Isle of Mull, and inspired by the isle itself, this album was recorded over what must have been a few very intense days immediately after its premiere at the arts centre. The energy is palpable.

The album comprises a suite of five pieces: one accompanying a poem by Aonghas MacNeacail, who also wrote a poem commissioned for the opening of the arts centre; and one a tribute to the late Martyn Bennett, whose studio, also called An Tobar -- The Well -- is where the CD was recorded.

The playing is rarely anything less than spectacular, apart perhaps from when it strays a little too far from its Celtic roots into ‘arts centre’ territory. Yet even in perhaps the most modern piece here -- The Sea -- the interplay between violin, sax, accordion, harp and percussion is quite exhilarating - it must have been superb to see them play this music live.

O’Rourke, from Oban, assembled an accomplished set of musicians around him for the project: his cohort in Lau, Martin Green, plays accordion, samples and general trickery; Catriona McKay of Fiddler’s Bid plays Scottish harp; Phil Bancroft of Unusual Suspects plays sax; Martin O’Neill (Dochas) is on percussion; and as well as the voice of MacNeacail, Kirsty MacKinnon can be heard singing on Tobar Nan Ealain.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.