TRACK: Richard Skelton – ‘For The Application Of Fire’: a new electronic spellbook

Richard Skelton, photographed by Autumn Richardson

RICHARD SKELTON is absolutely what you might term a polymath.

A poet, writer and artist, intensely concerned with the nature and experience of place, he only began to fashion musics in 2004 after a tragic personal loss. Since then he has released something like fifty albums and EPs, under his own name and aliases such as A Broken Consort, Clouwbeck and many others; there have been eight albums since the beginning of 2019 alone.

Much of his early music was concerned with the bleak and under-visited West Lancashire moorlands, named for specific woods, ridges and the like; often he would fashion the instrumentation used on the album from materials out on those sour, brackeny lands.

He has since moved to the Scottish borders, the ‘debatable lands’ which for many centuries was de facto ruled over by gangs of cattle thieves, known as reivers. His music has progressed from an arrestingly eerie, supra-organic style – almost as if the music was being made by the land itself; through taking that style and gradually layering and filtering it through static, a la William Basinski; to an entire swerve of approach for the new album, These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound, which will be released by Phantom Limb come September 25th.

It’ll be his first vinyl release for a decade, and in terms of instrumentation he has moved more fully than ever before over to the electronic. Listen to the teaser track, “For The Application Of Fire”, below.

Building on a resonant and ominous two-note bass march, it unfolds with overhanging clouds and sheer brood. It’s an incantation, a movement, a sound-cycle for calling on the other.

The title of the track is taken from 19th-century translations of Anglo-Saxon ‘leechdoms’: medicinal remedies, handed down, often requiring the recitation of charms to aid the efficacy of the cure. 

He says the new album is intended as an auditory charm to annul fear.

If you like your music to be conceived and forged in a deep and exploratory vision, Richard’s new album – and indeed, his catalogue – will be of much nourishment.

Richard Skelton’s These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound may be pre-ordered here

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