The music is gentle and quiet, bordering but not crossing the line into ambience. The voice is strong, intense, at times wordless -- it is the voice that carries the album and makes Basque exceptional.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Basque is a duo lacking last names. Brandt lays down a foundation on bass guitar, while Maryasque soars above with vocals reminiscent of Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard. There's more in the background on their CD Falling Forward, but nothing important enough to mention in the liner notes; as the band notes on its website, "The instrumentation will grow and change but will always return to a simplistic origin."
The music is built around silence, and it's a surprisingly effective motif. The duo creates moods and surrounds them with atmosphere; it's up to the listener to assign meaning to the sound. This is mellow, relaxing stuff that could easily settle into the background if the excellent musicianship didn't keep tugging at your awareness.
[ by Tom Knapp ]