Richard Skelton: Border Ballads (CD, Corbel Stone Press, May 2019)

Ooh, a new Skelton! I loved 2010’s Landings and 2012’s Limnology but none of his more recent works quite made it onto my radar (I think they were mostly pretty low key?). Well, this one emphatically did, and it is cracking. It was recorded, as you might have guessed, in the Scottish Borders, and is as evocative of time and place as we’ve come to expect. In a new development (or new to me, at least), those droning strings are complemented by some delicate piano on a few of the tracks here, played in a style that somewhat reminds me of Deaf Center’s Otto A Totland. Oh, but check out the three repeating melodic fragments in Roan. Or the gently evolving strings of Kershope, which seem to conjure a mournful longing and a gentle hope in equal measure. Or any of the other tracks, to be honest. Simply gorgeous.

I bought this from the label.

Richard Skelton: Limnology (CD+book, Corbel Stone Press, November 2012)

This is truly awesome. The CD consists almost entirely of a single drone of strings lasting almost half an hour. There are smooth sawing strings, sharp jaggedy, there’s a repeated phrase of five ascending notes. There may be some kind of cymbals underneath, I think. It starts quietly, crescendos smoothly, and fades away again. Other than that, the variations as it goes are quite subtle, just enough to keep drawing you in. Limnology is the study of inland waters, and this music had a hugely elemental power, It’s not for nothing that they talk about an orchestral swell, you know. I find it grabs me and just keeps dragging me further in.

It comes with a 86 page book of poetry, roughly speaking. Some of this is patterns of letters on a page, forming waves and ripples, ebbing and flowing. Some of it is lists of words, seemingly British dialect words to do with lakes and rivers. Occasionally it is actual sentences, even narratives, though still carefully typeset, with fragments of sentences poured out and scattered over the page. I probably don’t appreciate it as much as I should, but immersing myself in this is a nice accompaniment to the splendid record.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambient.