Basciville: Hymns to the Air review – Wexford brothers show promise

Cillian and Lorcan Byrne’s debut album shapes their influences into something new

Hymns to the Air
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Artist: Basciville
Genre: Rock
Label: Self-released

It's the million-dollar predicament for every band releasing any material into the world: how do you sufficiently tamp down your myriad influences to forge something original and unique? For the most part, Wexford brothers Cillian and Lorcan Byrne manage to do just that with their debut album, written and recorded in the midst of a tumultuous lockdown-laden 2020. Instead of reaching for their own aural comfort blankets in such times of uncertainty, the duo push the envelope into territory that's not quite experimental but certainly wilfully different.

True, traces of their love of 1990s indie artists such as Jeff Buckley can be heard in the more tender moments here, such as the tranquil passage in the orchestral Novena. The soulful twang of Hozier's canon is audible on the bluesy thump of Blues in Red and the simple strum of Wanting More, with vocalist Cillian's powerful voice leading the charge on both tracks.

Elsewhere, the considered 1990s alt-rock of Bloom is a highlight, while the broody thump and murmured vocals of Memory and Other Drugs nods to Nebraska-era Springsteen. On most tracks, the pair draw upon an intricate palette of instruments to tell their story – but at other times, their obvious talent as musicians feels somewhat inhibited by an unnecessarily sombre tone. Despite that, there are some hugely promising moments on this ambitious, capable debut.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times