Gig review: Aidan O’Rourke/ Poppy Ackroyd, Edinburgh

Pleasance. Picture: Complimentary

Pleasance. Picture: Complimentary

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TRUST the Insider Festival (for which this was a fundraiser), even in a setting far removed from their midsummer Speyside idyll, to lay on a spread of exceptionally choice leftfield music, complete with lashings of party atmosphere and attire, including both men and women in glamorous full-length frocks.

Pleasance

****

Pianist and violinist Poppy Ackroyd, best known as a member of the Hidden Orchestra, opened the show solo but for her two instruments and a capacious bag of technical and digital tricks, plus a vintage-style video backdrop. Delving deep into the piano’s innards as well as plying [sic] its keyboard; exploiting the violin as much for its percussive and textural as for its melodic possibilities; live-looping and layering strands of her performance, she created a succession of magically immersive soundscapes.

Taking its inspiration from the Cold War history of the world’s first transatlantic submarine telephone cable, linking his native Argyll coast with Newfoundland, Aidan O’Rourke’s ensemble composition Hotline, commissioned as part of last year’s Cultural Olympiad and recorded as his latest solo album, featured in the Lau/Kan fiddler’s performance with harpist Catriona McKay, saxophonist Phil Bancroft, pianist Paul Harrison and drummer Jim Goodwin. Also including material from Hotline’s predecessor An Tobar, the set highlighted O’Rourke’s facility for combining diverse tonalties into a whole, creating music that’s equally expressive and evocative.

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