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Landings

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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

Customer Reviews

Headphone Commute Review

Richard Skelton's songs don't tell a story. They describe a place, a landscape. No... that's not quite right. They're more like a part of the landscape. On Landings, his remarkable new album, the rugged and earthy texture of the strings, gentle guitars and densely layered assorted acoustic instruments, all played by Richard himself, meld with field recordings of babbling brooks, the breeze and bird song. It all feels like it emanates from the same source. The songs on Landings don't contain much in the way of development. No build-up, no climax, no resolution. Instead each song is a portal into a particular setting... or state of mind. You step in, breath in the fresh air, the breeze ruffles your hair and all you can do is marvel at Mother Nature's handiwork. Landings is the product of four years of recordings that Skelton did in Lancashire's West Pennine Moors in Northern England, close to where he grew up. When originally released on his own Sustain-Release imprint, the CD was accompanied by a book with the same title that collected Skelton's writings, including diary entries, word lists, poetry and prose fragments from 2004 to 2008. Together, the writing and the music were his way of trying to engage with the landscape. Unfortunately, the book appears to be sold out but Type has thankfully rereleased the music. There's an undeniably mournful undertow to the album, a reflection of the rugged nature of the Moors no doubt, but it probably also has a lot to do with the fact that the album is dedicated to his late wife, Louise. In a recent interview with Title Magazine, Skelton explained that to him his music is an intensely private thing. In addition to being a way to connect with a place, it's a vehicle through which he deals with his loss and memories. There's a strong sense of ritual about the way he approaches this endeavor. He buries his strings deep in the soil, he takes stones from the ground in a particular place and knocks them against the body of his violin. This may not make a very tangible contribution to the recordings but the ritual is an important part of the act of making the music. There's something so solemn and beautiful about this process, and it displays an incredible dedication and commitment. Skelton has released music under a number of guises in recent years - A Broken Consort, Carousell and Clouwbeck. Landings is the second album in a row that he releases under his given name. A sign that he has well and truly come into his own.

Wow my ears are loving this

I've seen this album a lot in the "listeners also bought" and it has been catching my eye for awhile now so i finally decided to buy it. I have to say i haven't been this happy about an itunes purchase since Hammock's new cd. What I love about Skelton's music as that it feels so organic and real. Each song will sets a different mood and paints a picture as you listen. I strongly recommend this album for any lover of the genre.

Amazingly great

This is quite possibly the best music I have ever heard. That is all I can really say about it. i listen to A LOT of music....this just leaves me....in awe.

Biography

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...
Full Bio
Landings, Richard Skelton
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