This is an immersive experience – the brainchild of multi-award winning fiddler, composer and producer Aidan O’Rourke (Lau). It’s the follow up to 2018’s sold out ‘365: Volume 1’, based on the imaginative, compelling artistic journey of Scottish writer James Robertson and his 365 Stories.

It goes something like this: In 2013, Robertson – one of Scotland’s leading writers – wrote a short story every day for a year. Each short story is carefully crafted in 365 words, and often has an enchanting twist, or just a poignant observation or memory shared.

Inspired by this, Aidan O’Rourke wrote a tune every day in response to the stories – a new entire body of 365 tunes, described as ‘a powerful addition to the Scottish traditional music canon’.

This new 25 track, beautifully packaged deluxe double CD, launched last month, presents highlights from the overall project. It comes with a booklet of the 25 stories – the idea being that you read and listen carefully to each, then read and reflect. That’s when you realise that the music somehow and significantly dovetails, links and responds to the words.

This is beautifully crafted material. O’Rourke is a master fiddler, but combined with the ‘kaleidoscopic harmonies’ of Mercury Prize nominee Kit Downes on harmonium and piano, it all gels into sublime renditions.
It resurrects the art of storytelling in a unique way – traditional music partnered with the traditional craft of storytelling, part of the Celtic psyche, but with modern twists, turns and inner truths.

O’Rourke himself described the daily process of composing these tunes as ‘an essential ritual’ requiring discipline, but says it soon become addictive. “Inevitably” he says “the melodies are rooted in my own background as a Scottish folk fiddler, but when Kit Downes gets involved, it takes the harmonies to the most wondrous places”.

The album launch coincided with the sound installation ‘365: Stories and Music’ at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and is set to go on tour. Designed by Yann Seznec with Old school Fabrications, the installation is a work of art in itself – crafted from old wood and brass – no digital add-ons, and allows up to six people at a time to listen to the stories and music using only headphones. From January 2020, you can sign up to receive a daily story and tune to be delivered direct in to your email box – the 365 Stories and Music will arrive every day free of charge – a daily miniature piece of public art. I’m signing up for that.

A 30 disc box set is als being planned with Reveal Records, so look out for that coming up in 2020. There are also dates throughout Scotland for performances in October 2019. Visit aidanorourke.net for more.

The art work and packaging alone are so beautiful that this would make a perfect gift – with Christmas coming up – for anyone with a deep rooted passion for traditional music.