"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Monday, 29 September 2014

Urn Burial

Anything new from Richard Skelton is welcome, obviously. But the unstrung, slab-like 'Nimrod is lost in Orion' is freighted with more than novelty: the sound of thrilling reinvention. 

Part of a rich collection of works in different formats that also includes a doubtless profound & gorgeous book, 'Nimrod' (by The Inward Circles, a new addition to Skelton's many music-making personae) centres on the drones & arcs that were a more secondary, framing part of his sound before. 

Now he works with a beautifully abrasive monumentality - exploring sound as "a substance that might endure weathering", as he puts it. The effect is to "reveal layers of harmonic till with outcrops of more obdurate material; moraines of static, veins of melody.'

Blurb: "Richard Skelton's first solo album in two years is preoccupied with 'the great volume of nature', its delicacy and violence, light and dark, solace and psychological burden. The music hovers between the empyreal and the subterranean, and - framed by the accompanying book of texts, art and photography - offers what Skelton describes as a 'picture of a wood through which slanting light dimly traces other forms'.

Nimrod presents the idea of music - not as the distillation of a specific place (as in works such as Landings and Ridgelines), but as a relic of an imaginary landscape; a series of notional artefacts:

'I wanted to concentrate on sound as a material presence - to explore it as a substance that might endure weathering, to reveal layers of harmonic till with outcrops of more obdurate material; moraines of static, veins of melody.'

The tremulous strings that characterised much of his earlier work have all but disappeared as the music is divested of ornament, revealing the coarse grain of its underlying substrate: a dark mass of shifting tonal colours suffused with filigree detail.
The excerpted texts that make up the accompanying book come from a range of sources, united by a hyper-sensitivity to nature itself; a desire to understand and come to terms with its 'hidden state'. They are figures in the landscape, some of whom construct elaborate systems of classification and natural philosophy, others who seem wounded by their very affinities, and others still who seem lost, or are institutionalised. The tone of the work as a whole - which finds its analogue in the music - is aptly evoked in Gerard Manley Hopkins' poignant phrase: 'nature in all her parcels and faculties gaped and fell apart'. There is a sense of things on the verge of collapse, of despair and regret."

NB: photos by Corbel Stone Press

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