This November 5th will see the publication of Richard Skelton’s new book Beyond the Fell Wall via Little Toller Books. It focuses on the time Richard spent living in a small valley, high in the Furness hills of Cumbria, in northern England. The half decade he spent here were heavily influential and can be heard in his music. In fact, he often included physical elements from the landscape in his releases. In an interview with Marcus O’Dair he once explained the uniqueness of the place:
‘There’s a particular microclimate here – a consequence of the altitude, orientation and proximity to the sea – which means that it’s rarely ever still. There are strange, quick-moving mists, frequent rain-showers and an almost viscous light at dusk. It can rain so much that the fields are frequently waterlogged, and the myriad becks and rills on the fell-sides turn white with foam.’
The Furness hills are a region of crags and exposed, weather-worn rock, of bracken, grassland and bogs, scattered with the remains of prehistoric settlements. “Life up here,” he writes, “amidst elemental nature and the tumbled stones, seems more precarious, and therefore more precious.”
Beyond the Fell Wall is a distillation of his thoughts and observations from his brief tenure here, informed by his daily wanderings along its network of paths, the banks of its streams and the edges of its walls. It is also a poetic enquiry into the inanimate life of a landscape – its unheard melodies and unseen movements, its supernatural and heretical voices. It considers both vast geological epochs and brief moments of intimacy, conjuring both the imaginary and the real, which, in a place such as this, effortlessly elide. At its heart is the fell wall itself – a vast, serpentine entity; a vessel for lives, stories and myths; the dark centre about which all of life and death revolves.
Published 5th November 2015, available for pre-order here.