During the 18th and the early 19th centuries, thousands of inhabitants of the Orkney Islands moved to Northern Canada to be employed in a number of different productive industries. After researching this migration and its effects, Orkney born and bred multi-instrumentalist and composer Graham Rorie designed an eleven track suite, The Orcadians of Hudson Bay.
His first solo album, it is a tribute to these hard working people and their stories, recorded with a line-up including pianist Rory Matheson and double bassist James Lindsay.
Rorie’s name is usually associated with his mandolin playing. Here, apart from some tenor guitar passages, the focus shifts to the fiddle, the leading voice throughout the album.
Despite the entire work being inspired by centuries old stories, the sound is quite modern and definitely energetic. Fiddle lines are effortlessly underpinned by skilfully designed piano and double bass lines, with Padruig Morrison’s accordion being a fundamental element in shaping the overall sound.
Many of these tunes have names related to places, like the opener Fort Hope, the jig set The Mouth of the Hudson Strait and the remarkable strathspey and reel set Red River. The influence of cinematic music on the arrangements becomes palpable in tracks like Aglooka or The Last Calling Port, another detail that enforces the imaginative power of the album.
Other highlights include the haunting slow air Isobel, the final three reels medley Giving Back and the surprising Erebus and Terror, a rocky and syncopated piece showcasing Rorie’s compositional talent even on non-traditional time signatures.
Thanks to the dexterity showcased by all the musicians involved, the visionary power of the tunes and the stories that inspired them and the wisely chosen name of the tracks, all results of a profound and meticulous research, The Orcadians of Hudson Bay allows the listener to embark on a delightful journey through time and space. A joyous and genuine tribute to these hard-working men and women that crossed the ocean to reach the new world.Michele Mele
Released on CD and digitally by Rumley Sounds on 28 May 2021, recorded and mixed by Andrea Gobbi at Gloworm Recording, Glasgow, mastered by Nick Cooke in Bristol.
1. Fort Hope
4. York Boat
5. The Haven
7. Red River
8. The Last Calling Port
9. The Mouth of the Hudson Strait
10. Erebus and Terror
11. Giving Back