“Landings” by Richard Skelton
A truly epic culmination of four years of recording on the moors and hillsides of Northern England.
Since the release of the genre-defining ‘Marking Time’, the music of Richard Skelton has been widely celebrated for its raw, organic beauty, its honesty and restraint. Whether the work has been under his own name or under one of his many shadowy guises (A Broken Consort, Riftmusic, Carousell, Clouwbeck and others) there is a level of skill, a sureness of touch, and an emotional resonance that is virtually unparalleled by his peers.
‘Landings’ is the culmination of four years of recording on the moors and hillsides of Northern England. The resulting album isn’t simply a suite of songs in the mould of ‘Marking Time’, but a form of diary; a dialogue with the landscape itself. It is imbued with a real sense of narrative – and of place – that is both epic in scale and yet intimate in feel.
And so we are taken on a literal journey across the threshold of ‘Noon Hill Wood’, with its achingly beautiful interleaved bowed melodies, drifting through ranks of pine, larch and birch. From there we cross the river and climb the slopes of the nearby hills in search of the source of ‘Green Withins Brook’ – a crushing Eno-esque ballad for concertina, recorded by the banks of the fledgeling stream as the ice melted one wintry morning. We are then taken across miles of bleak moorland, and to the album’s desolate centrepiece, ‘Voice of the Book’, a symphony of bowed metallic sounds recorded in the ruins of a centuries-old farm house. Finally, we make a long, slow decent into the valley, and follow the river as it leaves the moorland behind.
‘Landings’ is a demanding, involving experience and is without a doubt Skelton’s most complete work to date, containing within it the very essence of his musical output. Slowly, over the course of its 70+ minutes, he reveals the heart of his compositional skill and with that we are drawn into the depth of his work. Rarely are albums so involving and so absolutely moving.