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Baker's Dozen

Overlapping Terrain: Richard Skelton's Favourite Music
Luke Turner , February 26th, 2020 09:18

Following the release of his new album LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM, the prolific Richard Skelton speaks to Luke Turner about the music that inspired his own work, from Thomas Tallis to Phuture, Nico to Sly & The Family Stone, The Stooges and Gorecki

Richard Skelton is currently living in deep time. He's taking an hour or so out of his Creative Geographies PhD, writing poetry about the last Ice Age, to discuss his Baker's Dozen choices but, given the interconnectivity of his work as a musician, publisher, writer, and thinker, these things tend to end up all appearing at once, like strata on a distant cliff. Skelton's studies explore little-known territories where most artists and historians alike fear to tread, as he puts it on the phone from his home in the Scottish borders, existing at the odd spot where "where the archaeologist hands the baton over to the poet and the poet goes off into the realm of pure speculation and imagination." For the past decade or so, Skelton's work has emerged at a dizzying pace, records under his own name and The Inward Circles, writing in books like Beyond Fell Wall, editing (with partner Autumn Richardson) the excellent Reliquae journal of landscape writing. It's a genuine cottage industry and hive of activity that has made for some of the most vital, engaging and transportive art inspired by the complexities of the human presence on this planet that I've ever heard.

Shortly before he started his musical career with his own Sustain Release label, it was music that got Skelton through a two-hour commute - morning and evening - to work on the far side of Manchester. It was, he says, a key moment in his thinking about how music and landscape might connect. "heading out of Wigan towards Manchester with headphones on and seeing the landscape unfold as day broke, then on the way back as the sun was setting, cemented that relationship between listening and an unfolding landscape. It puts you in a in a more meditative state." Eventually, to pass the tedium of the four hours travelling each day Skelton took small pieces of equipment on the journey with him, building much of his 2011 album Marking Time on public transport: "It felt like that experience of travel was integral to the composition of the music," he reflects.    Speaking about the reasoning behind his Baker's Dozen selections, Skelton says it's all material that was "fundamental in shaping my musical imagination." They also influenced how he would go about making music himself. "Even though stylistically something like Derrick May's Rhythm Is Rhythm is as far removed from what I do as anything else you could think of and it's difficult to find a tangible connection, actually it deeply informed how I think about writing and composition."

  Richard Skelton's new album LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM is out now. He and Autumn Richardson host an evening exploring a decade of Corbel Stone Press at the Aerial Festival this March - for more information please visit the festival website. Click the picture of Skelton below to begin reading his choices.