Richard Skelton – These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound

Over the years, Richard Skelton has developed a specific sound, but These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound sees him blaze a new path, turning from the acoustic to follow a range of sine tones, foundations built on thrumming basslines, and meandering waves which have been eroded by varying degrees of distortion and static. Skelton refers to his process as ‘signal degradation…as a means of reflecting the processes of decay and transformation in the natural world’. Although Skelton has departed from acoustic sources, his music is still able to evoke the myths and legends inherent to the British landscape. Murky fields, bent trees, and damp bogs come alive through his music, which concentrates on the rural and the historic over the urban and the modern. 

These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound is an evolution, not an outright rejection of the old. Instead, it’s similar to the turning of the leaves, moving from green to rustic brown. As the leaves change, Skelton’s new record also indicates a seasonal shift, both personally and musically. The British landscape morphs into darker shades – a natural event thanks to a new emphasis on sine tones, which unravel and crawl insidiously into the music. Skelton is more than adept at excavating the past, as acidic distortion eats away at the soil and reveals hidden, long-dormant sounds. History oozes from Skelton’s music: ancient crowns and long-forgotten glories are uncovered amid its fertile earth.

His music lies out in the open, which is fitting as Skelton produced it in rural isolation. And due to the recent lockdown and the ongoing pandemic, isolation is more of a relatable experience than ever before. Tied to the stark and lonely Scottish Borders, Skelton’s music radiates with the sound of its rural beauty and its unforgiving nature. Powerful winds pick up and drive the music, like the sweeping rainfall during inclement weather. Soundwaves pulse in time with the underlying rhythm of the valley, and the location has bled into both the album and track titles, which come from 19th century translations of Anglo-Saxon ‘leechdoms’, which were ancient medicinal remedies, and some of them required the recitation of charms as part of a cure for the ailment.

In a sense, These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound has appeared at just the right moment, as these meditative sojourns are spells of their own, aiding in the fight against societal erosion, modern anxiety, and increased paranoia, taking away the fear with its repetitious incantations…if only for a spell.

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