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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


The Velvet Underground – 'Venus In Furs'
John Cale looms large over my adoption of the violin and the viola. I first heard the Velvet Underground album when I was 18. Again, this was music from another planet. What is this? It was probably my first experience of music with a drone underscoring it. There's obviously a heritage that spans back into the depths of time when you start looking at indigenous musics, but I hadn't really had any experience of that. For me, it was through the Velvet Underground, and particularly John Cale's use of electrified viola. Drones are mysterious and I'm loath to poke around and diminish that mystery. It's evident in so many indigenous musics – you can go to classical music from India and the drone is there, and it's there in many folk musics as well. In a sense it's there in all tonal music: the tonic note is the drone and it's there in absentia, it underwrites everything. There are musics that bring the drone to the fore, but I think it's present or at least implicit in more or less everything that we listen to. For me, fumbling away trying to make my own music, I noticed that from early on that if I held one note and then played over the top of it with another, then something magical happened. It wasn't really something that I couldn't describe or explain, it was just something in the way certain notes felt when they resonated or harmonized with that drone note. It just created this incredible sonority that I found deeply moving.