Basco are coming to tell you some stories at The Quay Arts Centre
Basco are coming to tell you some stories. A few words, many more where melodies alone weave the spell. From February 13-17th, 2018, the Danish four-piece will be back in the UK, with dates in England and Scotland in support of their sixth album, Interesting Times.
They take chances, they like to balance on the musical tightrope. Plenty of original material, shaded by their Nordic roots, but also a good sprinkling of traditional pieces. A mix of the unknown and the familiar, all of it delivered with the kind of empathetic interplay and humour that can only come from a decade of playing together – and a great deal of skill.
In a 10-year career, Basco have brought in a horn section for one album, recorded live with the Danish Radio big band on another, and created a disc with one of Scandinavia’s best singers – standing still isn’t an option. There a restless quality to the music, always searching out something different, a reflection of the members’ varied upbringings.
“I was born in Scotland and grew up in Australia’s Northern Territory” says fiddler/mandolinist/singer Hal-Parfitt Murray. “I learned from the Scots to fiddle repertoire from the old, bearded gentlemen at folk festivals. Ale Carr (cittern) grew up in the Swedish forest to become one of the leading exponents of Skanian music. Andreas (Tophoj, violin/viola) and Anders (Andersen, accordion and trombone) came out of the Danish polka and waltz tradition. But on top of that, there’s string quartets, prog rock, minimalism, the Beatles – they’ve planed seeds in our mind and you never know which tune they’ll choose to bloom in.”
All of those show their faces in Basco’s performances, played with fire and tenderness, and 2017’s Interesting Times (a comment as well as an evocation of the ancient Chinese curse) gives a taster of their wide range, from the complex, tense layers of “The Way Of All Flesh” to the fragile delicacy of “The Diplomat’s Lament,” while the starkness of “The Thress Mothers” (which sounds traditional, but isn’t) offers a powerful connection between past and present.
Of course, there’s plenty of acoustic mayhen and joy in the music, too, even more apparent on stage. But plenty of work makes madness. With any new piece, Parfitt-Murrays says, “We’ll jam if for a while, and mull over what makes the tune good, and where its weaknesses are. Then we’ll begin to work on where the piece is going. It relies of everyone knowing when you’ve got something good to bring to the work, and when to shut up and let the others go on with what they’re doing. Hours can pass; it’s a very fluid process.”
“From the swift to the sublimely serene, they capture moods beautifully”, one reviewer wrote, and Basco can set feet moving and tears falling in the space of a single set. They create an evening that lingers in the soul. Nordic noir it’s not; there’s far too much light in the shade. Nordic pleasure it most definitely is.
February 13 – Quay Arts Centre, Newport, Isle of Wight
February 14 – St. Mary’s Music Hall, London
February 15 – Lakeside Art Centre, Nottingham
February 17 – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen