Those who listen to it at the appropriate moment instantly recognize the signs. Richard Skelton’s music is hedged by a well-perceptible melancholy, its wooden scents suffusing the responsive listener’s psyche by projecting memories to places where one’s sure of having been a part of something – perhaps as trees, clouds, engraved stones, butterflies; certainly not as humans – and eventually to return to, sooner or later.
Marking Time represents the first occasion in which Skelton appears in real name on a label different than Sustain-Release, but the fundamental nature of his wonderful sonic craft hasn’t changed a iota. An inborn consistency, deriving from the ideal intertwining of two or three essential melodic/harmonic constituents, is what pushes the pieces towards the spots of the soul where a cyclic chord or the knitting of reiterated linear patterns can literally germinate, burgeoning into undersized plants whose roots hold on to the inside parts of the mental organism that want to escape from the well disguised but still visible psychoses of a desperate mass, causing an effect of regretful understanding. That’s the very reason for remaining with feet firmly planted in that grief, the element that, ultimately, is going to fortify our individual being, the factor which constitutes yet another small step to the ever-imperfect integration with a surrounding world which isn’t even a simulacrum of the idea of wonderland that mothers lulled us with in the early stages of living.
Sparse piano chords are scarred by noises of slacked strings and gentle hits on the instrument’s bodies, as to recall a malfunctioning clock signalling that the time has come to finally turn that page of the dusty book of consciousness; perpetual silhouettes of plangent violins and winded harmoniums provide evidence that there’s actually no need to wait for a presumed “future life” to realize that the quintessence of total awareness is achievable, if only we manage to unlock the mind from the trap of words. Were this writer forced to choose a symbol to represent the concept of dolorous beauty expressed by the Lancashire musician, the pick should be “Lowe”: a heartrending synopsis of everything that’s feared right before disposing of adolescence, the uneasiness originating from the impossibility of transmitting this deeply emotional message to the right persons.
Those creatures do exist. Mr. Skelton is one of them, and letting the artist’s call for attention unanswered would be outright foolish. This music is the key to a different dimension of our existential form, as precious as the devotion to someone that you have the fortune to meet in time and will always keep in your heart, whatever happens.