Richard Skelton

Landings

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Are drones supposed to be this shiny? Shouldn't they be somber and fuzzy, foggy and ghostly? Even the cover of Landings leans heavily in that direction, with its half-trees/half-clouds shapes barely emerging from a thick fog. And yet Richard Skelton's drones are anything but all that: luminous, sharp, soaring, heavenly. The man has a firm grasp of the instruments he uses (violins and cellos, percussion, acoustic guitar, maybe some E-bowed guitar), a clear vision of how to stack and arrange them into gorgeous aural landscapes, and the production chops to make it all work out without resorting to lo-fi "excuses." As a result, Landings immediately welcomes you in with "Noon Hill Wood," lulls you throughout its 70-minute course, and puts you down gently with "The Shape Leaves." Calling this drone music is too easy: there is as much post-folk at play here as bona fide droning, and one can easily hear some John Fahey licks in the background, hurdy-gurdy laments, even some contemporary string quartet music (Morton Feldman, James Tenney), not to forget a Brian Eno-like take on ambient music. The rich, tasteful arrangements are what sets Landings apart, with only the field recordings being questionable -- granted, they are mostly short and discreet, but they still have a predictable quality and could easily have been done without. That minor quibble aside, Landings is a remarkable work with remarkable production values, unimpaired by its generous length. The album exists in two versions: the regular CD release (70 minutes) and a two-LP version that also includes a bonus 20-minute CD.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick