Friday, March 19, 2021

Basciville remind us what real music is with debut album ‘Hymns to the Air’

I have recently found that finding new ways to express my appreciation for really good music isn’t coming easily to me. I know there are infinite combinations of words and sentiments and punctuation and all that but you find yourself wandering back to the same expressions, the same outlines, the same words. For the sake of this review however, to honour and do the artists justice, I will try and be as authentic and as original as they are. 

Basciville have released their debut album Hymns to the Air and I was in it for the ride from the opening bars...

The ten-track album was recorded and produced entirely from the brothers’ home during lockdown. Citing influences such as Pearl Jam, REM and Jeff Buckley, it blends together these sounds and something that is entirely their own. This is the kind of album where I was continuously kicking myself for not having thought of it first. This is the kind of album that fills a person up. I admit I don’t know where to start. I could go song-by-song through the album and sing every song’s praises, I could talk about how the album fits together as a whole but can be broken down into its parts without leaving anything to be desired, I could talk about the skill of the individual musicians.

Suffice it to say, I love this album. So let’s dive into what’s so great about it.

First and foremost, brothers Cillian and Lorcan Byrne have a talent for constructing melody and production that comes not only from an innate ear for it but from years of work. Every component that goes into the song is well thought through, never over-produced and never just sound for the sake of sound. The irony is, I get the impression from this album that Basciville understands the value of silence. Not to say any of their songs are silent, but the value of not filling every single second with as much noise as humanly possible is a skill that many songwriters and producers don’t have in their tool belts. I think this is especially noticeable in songs such as ‘Blues in Red’ and ‘Under the Blood’.

Maybe some of this ability comes from the fact that they really master their various instruments. From the guitar riffs, to the vocals, to the percussion. Every facet of these songs could stand alone. The percussion (done by Lorcan Byrne) gets a special shout-out from me. The drums are always clever, always impactful and I think this is especially prevalent in ‘Calvary’, ‘Ruling Word’, and ‘Hymn to the Air/Novena’. If you’re looking for soaring vocals (provided by wordsmith and vocalist Cillian Byrne) look to ‘Your Violent Arms’ or ‘Memory and Other Drugs’. Chills.

Homage must also be paid to the excellent lyricism that these guys bring to the table. They blend what could almost be deemed stand-alone poetry and manage to blend it seamlessly to music (what any aspiring songwriter would know is not easy). ‘Blues in Red’ is a more up-tempo example of this. ‘Lost Dogs’ a slower example but by no means does this mean boring (you can hear the REM influence in this one, in the best way).

Favourite Song of the Album award goes to ‘Wanting More’. Anyone who knows me at all knows I like a sad song more than really anything else in the world. This song follows the up-tempo ‘Blues in Red’ and comes as a soft, intimate interlude. The vocals and guitar blend together wonderfully and the lyrics are ones I wish I’d written myself.

If you want a glimpse into what really good music is, go do yourself a favour and listen to Hymns to the Air by Basciville. You won’t regret it. 

- Chloe Boehm




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