Sirius is a completely instrumental CD dominated by as many as four fiddlers at a time (Aidan O'Rourke, Harald Haugaard, Charlie McKerron, and Gordon Gunn) while steeped in a number of traditions, not the least of which are the jazz and Celtic notions. The song structures, however, are frequently serial, with all the Glass-ine density and complexity that intones. O'Rourke wields the chief set of strings, of course, but the frequent interplay of fiddles is hypnotic, absorbing, as entrancing as an enneagram. More than once, the listener is reminded of the Kronos Quartet. These guys are serious.
Despite the high level of interplay and compositional rigor, the overall effect is smooth, like a Jean-Luc Ponty LP, easy on the ear and joyous to the heart while dancing like a dervish through glades and forests. A full backing roster, numbering nine in all, complements the string raspers hand in glove, keeping the progressive nature of the enterprise to a zenith, backing out for sparer tracks like Mangersta Beach with its gentle balladic core.
O'Rourke shows himself to be an infectiously positive musician, as not a track lacks for exuberance, even the understated numbers, exhibiting a wild emotive embrasure of nature and the spirit of man, including Caifornia's Santa Cruz Redwoods and San Francisco's People's Park, both of which remain politically and socially populist, defiant of throwback conservatism to this day (one dreads to think what might even now be happening to the Santa Cruz trees had, like Bush, Madman McCain been vote-rigged into the White House in the last election). Not a moment is wasted here, showing how a violin, one of the most difficult of instruments, in the hands of a master can be so splendidly expressive in the classical, traditional, progressive, and projective senses. Even the slo-jazz cuts are imbued with building swirls of subtle interjections enriching every measure. Place this, if you wish, with neoclassical or prog discs, it'll deserve it, but Sirius will inevitably wiggle out to go escapading with the rest of your collection. The base may indeed be Celtic but the parameters extend way beyond, friendly to all manner of artistic intelligence to a daunting degree.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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