These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound
September 26th 2020
With new album These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound, Richard Skelton has abandoned acoustic instrumentation altogether to map out a new territory of buzzing sine tones and square waves, immersed in shimmering clouds of distortion and suspended over landscapes of thrumming bass. The result is a new and transcendental experience: while the key themes of Skelton’s music remain - stark and lonely geographies, ancient myths buried deep within the land, slow-moving glacial evolution - we are transported to a darker and more mechanical place. The intensity and sound design here are more akin to quasi-industrial, abandoned-factory sonics than to earthy, organic tones of earlier Richard Skelton albums.
Key track “Against All Tendernesses Of The Eyes” traces a common Skelton line of shadowy chord clouds rising and falling out of a dark gloom, but somewhere within its depths lies a slow and static-ridden electronic rhythm, like distorted waves gently coursing through a digital sea. Elsewhere, “For Either Deadened Or Undeadened” approaches like the coming of night: there is great beauty hidden within its hissing melancholia. “For The Application Of Fire” pushes the industrial sonics further still, its pulses and twitches of glitching life underpinning and disguising a yearning, desperately sad melody.
As is usual for Skelton, These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound was produced in rural isolation, intricately and indelibly bound to its local geography; in this case, the low, broad valleys of the Scottish Borders. The album and track titles come from 19th-century translations of Anglo-Saxon ‘leechdoms’ — ancient medicinal remedies, some of which required the recitation of charms to aid the efficacy of the cure. In times of increasing societal anxiety and paranoia these recordings are auditory charms: spells for the annulment of fear, incantations against the darkness.