Aphotic and portentous, Richard Skelton’s new album has been played around these parts for a week. It’s magnificent. I’d even go so far to say that it’s a significant piece of modern music.
The gloomy, droning soundscape evoked by Skelton on this album is perfect for both this time of the year as Autumn turns its face towards the winds of approaching Winter and for the ongoing period of uncertainty and apprehension we’re enduring. It seems to suit my current sensibility and on more than one occasion over the last couple of days I’ve found myself becoming entranced by the music in an almost tuned-out, hypnotic state. A sense of drowning in the tonal darkness of it all.
It’s certainly heavy. There’s an overall sense of dread, of dissolution of natural sound. (This afternoon, Alice made me turn it off; she found the sounds were causing her to feel anxious and unable to collect her thoughts.) It’s certainly dense and textural. The first half of the album seems affirming. Warm even. For Either Deadened or Undeadened is – for me – the most beautiful piece on the album. The second half becomes darker. Almost industrial. The distortion and feedback builds to a point that is intensely affective. The other track that’s stunning is For The Application Of Fire, an eerie, pulsing piece.
Phantom Limb describe the album like this:
Over the past sixteen years, Richard Skelton 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 giants of experimental music, such as Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Stars Of The Lid, William Basinski.