a broken consort: box of birch.

Sometimes I encounter artists that are sharing something so personal with the world that I almost feel overwhelmed. There is such a grace in the exchange of a life’s memories from artist to unknown recipient. For someone to say “these are my heaviest moments” and for us to carry them for a while. It’s the weight of small things filled with so much memory that the act of touching them becomes hallowed. I hope that, by acknowledging, we can make it a little bit lighter for a moment.

I felt it very clearly with Phil Toledano’s “Days With My Father”, and I feel it again now with U.K. aritst and musician Richard Skelton.

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A Broken Consort is Skelton’s current musical pseudonynm. He started Sustain-Release Private Press in 2005 in memory of his late wife Louise, intending to match her artwork with his compositions. Since then he’s released several individual, acoustic, experimental recording. He’s created incredible, hand-crafted releases for his works; packaging special editions in commissioned carved wooden boxes, gently bound and filled with poetry, pine cones, stones, twigs, and more.

They’re such a beautiful physical embodiment of the music; the creak of a small wooden box opening to release the powerful meaning of everything inside, the way small little odds and ends turn out to be our most valued possessions because, in never assuming that they’d become the most important, they captured everything that was the most real about us. We bury our big events with so much expectation that they can’t hope to live up to it all. It’s always the simple, sunny days you didn’t plan to do a single thing that turn into the sunsets you carry inside you.

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His latest, “A Box Of Birch”, is ethereal and exquisite. The music is so comfortable in its own pure meaning that it pretty much just glides into you. There’s no beat, no hook. It’s more like a sonic shimmer. Like some small shiny thing washed up on the shore, that you have to go find because it’s not vague or unfulfilled enough to need to come and try to find you. Written in commemoration, this is the music of memory. And in it’s rememberances it’s simultaneously triumphant and longing.

I don’t know Richard and I didn’t know Louise, but we all know love and we all know loss, and his gentle and enduring tribute is something I’ll never forget.

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  1. […] includes items gathered from his field recording locations such as twigs and alder catkins! This box set is one of the many beauties on his […]

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