Boomkat Product Review:
Richard Skelton returns with his third full album as The Inward Circles, following 2015's Belated Movements and 2013's Nimrod. It continues his exploration of the materiality of sound and the natural processes of weathering, attrition and decay and starts to pull down a more isolated direction that will appeal not only to Skelton’s considerable audience, but also anyone invested in works from Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol.II to Thomas Köner's icy trilogy of albums: Nunatak, Teimo and Permafrost.
The source material for Skelton's recordings here remains largely the same as his Sustain-Release albums of a decade ago - small stringed instruments, found objects, field recordings - but the compositional process itself couldn't be more different.
Whereas the recordings under his own name, or as A Broken Consort, were largely concerned with preserving the clarity of acoustic sound, his work as The Inward Circles is devoted to burial, obfuscation and mythologisation. There is a desire to obliterate, to destroy, and to discover anew.
Each sonic artefact is subject to repeated distortions of pitch and timbre, and, as a result, is transformed beyond recognition. Any traces of acoustic sound that remain are little more than ghosts, as the whole recording is suffused with electricity, a kind of telluric current, an overwhelming chthonic energy.
The result is considerably more harrowing than anything we’ve heard from Skelton upto this point, particularly on the windswept desolation of The Soul Subsisting which could almost have been lifted off the aforementioned Selected Ambient Works II, or indeed Scaleby, Xi, which ends the album on a desolate tundra shorn of all sentimentality.
Brilliant stuff as ever from Skelton, immersive listening comes hugely recommended.