Richard Skelton 'These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound' 2xLP
A hugely prolific musician/composer, Skelton has released over 50 albums and EPs since his debut in 2004. Over the years he has developed a signature sound, often comprised of strings, piano and other acoustic instrumentation. Since 2013 he has increasingly buried these organic sources in layers of detritus and static. The process, as he articulates it, is to use signal-degradation as a means of reflecting the processes of decay and transformation in the natural world. His music has been placed alongside experimental music giants and contemporaries, such as Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Stars Of The Lid and William Basinski.
With new album These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound, however, Skelton has abandoned acoustic instrumentation altogether to map out a new territory of buzzing sine tones and square waves, immersed in shimmering clouds of distortion and suspended over landscapes of thrumming bass. The result is a new and transcendental experience: while the key themes of his music remain - stark and lonely geographies, ancient myths buried deep within the land, slow-moving glacial evolution - we are transported to a darker and more mechanical place. The intensity and sound design here are more akin to quasi-industrial, abandoned-factory sonics than to earthy, organic tones of earlier Richard Skelton albums.
As is usual for Skelton, These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound was produced in rural isolation, intricately and indelibly bound to its local geography; in this case, the low, broad valleys of the Scottish Borders. The album and track titles come from 19th-century translations of Anglo-Saxon ‘leechdoms’ - ancient medicinal remedies, some of which required the recitation of charms to aid the efficacy of the cure. In times of increasing societal anxiety and paranoia these recordings are auditory charms: spells for the annulment of fear, incantations against the darkness.
Label: Phantom Limb