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Border Ballads
Richard Skelton

Richard Skelton has spent the last two years living on the rural northern edge of the Scotland-England border, a boundary demarcated by various watercourses - among them the Kershope Burn, the Liddel Water and the River Esk. This hinterland topography has informed a series of musical recordings which, in their brevity, stand in stark contrast to the longform compositions for which he is more usually known. Nevertheless, there is a sense that these twelve miniatures are fragments of a larger whole, such is their unity in tone and timbre.

In some ways, ‘Border Ballads’ can be seen as a revisiting of certain compositional processes first encountered on ‘Marking Time’, over a decade ago. The sparse, overlapping bowed notes, for example, or the solitary, bell-like piano. But there is something different at work here. Whereas ‘Marking Time’ felt aeolian, shifting, fleeting, this new work, with its persistent cello undertow and its low, tremulous viola, feels telluric, grounded, earthen. Perhaps ‘Border Ballads’ can be seen as the embodiment of a desire for certainty after a prolonged period of upheaval, but that ever-close riverine border, at once both fixed and fluid, is a disturbing presence. A darkness that cannot be ignored.


‘… sustained by a bowed vastness whose resonance remains a thing of beauty …’
(Massimo Ricci)

‘… some of the clearest melodies of the composer’s career. Piano, viola and cello each make stunning appearances …’
(A Closer Listen)



Border Ballads
Glass Mastered CD


1. Votive 02:37
2. Spur 05:58
3. Kist and Ark 02:53
4. Fair Shining 08:28
5. Roan 03:43
6. Dhu 05:54
7. Mask 04:07
8. Kershope 03:17
9. Shake Hole 02:54
10. Altar Valley 04:16
11. Yade 04:00
12. Hobb 02:11

Also available as a digital album via Aeolian Editions.

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