A Broken Consort – “Box Of Birch”


“Given electronic media’s inability to slake modern consumer thirst, it’s no surprise that many are returning to heavy, tactile forms of recorded music. Alongside the return of vinyl is the growth in private press companies releasing limited-runs. Top of the game is Lancashire’s Richard Skelton, whose Sustain-Release label has produced magic boxes of spindles, leaves, poems, and densely layered post-classical recordings with cello, piano and accordion, referencing everyone from Arvo Part to Blind Willie Johnson.” – MOJO

“haunting and sublime”
- The Independent (UK)

- Wire

“Once you add the backstory and the passing thought of A Box Of Birch as a coffin, the chills double”
- Stereogum

“A fluid composition of strings, chimes and some cloudy atmospherics”
- Pitchfork

Richard Skelton is an artist from Lancashire in the UK. He started his Sustain-Release Private Press in 2005 as a commemorative tribute to his late wife Louise, with the intention of publishing her artwork alongside his own musical offerings. Since its inception he has released a slew of raw, beautiful recordings presented in lovingly-assembled, individualised editions.

Operating under a variety of guises, including Heidika, Carousell, Harlassen and Clouwbeck, Skelton creates powerful, instrumental music out of densely-layered acoustic guitar, bowed strings, piano, mandolin and accordion, often laced with delicate, shimmering percussion. The result is something utterly unique – a music which is both life-affirming and yet etched with memory and loss, evoking equal parts Arvo Part and Ry Cooder, Nick Drake and Henryk Gorecki.

It is with A Broken Consort, perhaps, that Skelton most-assuredly draws these elements together, creating an ever-changing drift of rich textures and interleaved melody that effortlessly evokes the landscapes which inspired it. Box Of Birch, his second album in this guise, was originally published in a boxed edition that contained, among other things, birch twigs collected from the West Pennine Moors. For Skelton these things act as a synecdoche for the landscape itself, a physical connection to the places in which much of his music is recorded. In this new edition for Tompkins Square, Skelton has created an exclusive series of artworks which draw on the hidden histories of the English landscape, and their narratives of displacement and loss. The result is something which perfectly complements the music whilst adding another dimension, providing a fuller picture of the artist’s vision.

Available on CD, DL, and heavy vinyl LP