Several years have passed since my initial meeting with Richard Skelton’s art, and a number of things have changed in the life of this solitary creator of acoustically mourning pastels, including a second marriage. The essence of the music remains unaltered, though, and Verse Of Birds – comprising all the typical structural characteristics and contemplative shades of Skelton’s palette – can easily be considered one of the pinnacles of his career. Twelve tracks on two CDs lodged in an elegantly sober grey packaging enclose the most important element that we’ve come to expect from the English artist, namely the absolutely huge quantity of deeply reverberating beneficial melancholy that permeates the entirety of his output, which no word can describe beyond the actual sounds. Utilizing violin, guitar and piano to seam segments of slow evocative melodies inside gradual looping structures with very few additions, the man once again generated a series of incredibly consistent ebbs ad flows influencing the brain as a vague memory rather than being carved in the wood of permanence.
Some of the strings are tuned down to attribute a further degree of intensity to certain resonances and increase the significance of the percussive details, and masterfully chosen superimpositions of straightforward contrapuntal designs occasionally elicit clouds of upper partials possessing vocal qualities, as if a gentle choir was hidden in there, somewhere. I know that you’ve heard this before, but nothing like Skelton’s albums equals the act of standing alone in front of the sea, watching the multitude of shimmering lights reflected on the water’s surface while remaining entirely aware of the power of erosion and the overall magnitude of the ensemble of waves, currents and ripples, and forgetting all the rest, either positive or negative. Every time we returned from that experience as youngsters, we felt richer; the same occurred this afternoon after spinning these discs twice in a row, without doing anything else. Having been touched in the heart with doleful remembrance, we try to move forward with a flickering flame of faith.