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Album Review

Are drones supposed to be this shiny? Shouldn't they be somber and fuzzy, foggy and ghostly? Even the cover of Landings leans heavily in that direction, with its half-trees/half-clouds shapes barely emerging from a thick fog. And yet Richard Skelton's drones are anything but all that: luminous, sharp, soaring, heavenly. The man has a firm grasp of the instruments he uses (violins and cellos, percussion, acoustic guitar, maybe some E-bowed guitar), a clear vision of how to stack and arrange them into gorgeous aural landscapes, and the production chops to make it all work out without resorting to lo-fi "excuses." As a result, Landings immediately welcomes you in with "Noon Hill Wood," lulls you throughout its 70-minute course, and puts you down gently with "The Shape Leaves." Calling this drone music is too easy: there is as much post-folk at play here as bona fide droning, and one can easily hear some John Fahey licks in the background, hurdy-gurdy laments, even some contemporary string quartet music (Morton Feldman, James Tenney), not to forget a Brian Eno-like take on ambient music. The rich, tasteful arrangements are what sets Landings apart, with only the field recordings being questionable — granted, they are mostly short and discreet, but they still have a predictable quality and could easily have been done without. That minor quibble aside, Landings is a remarkable work with remarkable production values, unimpaired by its generous length. The album exists in two versions: the regular CD release (70 minutes) and a two-LP version that also includes a bonus 20-minute CD. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 1974 in Lancashire, England

Genre: Instrumental

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Following the death of his wife Louise in 2004, the Lancashire, England-born musician, photographer, and writer Richard Skelton founded the Sustain-Release private press in commemoration of her life. His shimmering, raw, and cathartic fusion of string-laden ambient classical music and meditative, rustic folk was also deeply inspired by the landscape of the West Pennine Moors. The decaying woodland, abandoned, ruinous farmhouses, harsh, open terrain, and life-giving river Yarrow acted as a form of...
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Landings, Richard Skelton
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