Autumn Richardson, Richard Skelton: all instruments and voices
Deeply influenced by the landscapes of Devoke Water in South Western Cumbria, Succession is the second conjunct album between Richardson and Skelton after 2010’s Wolf Notes. It comes in different types of edition, some of them including literary material. Linked to it, a digital-only release called Echoless which comprises alternative versions of two of this CD’s four tracks.
On a strictly delineative point of view, one could comfortably greet this work as a luminous illustration of how recollective acoustic minimalism should sound, formulated as it is on several of the constituents that have rendered Richard Skelton’s past glories a petite chain of must-haves. The characteristically sorrowful ebbs and flows induced by the instruments (unmentioned, though we at least surmise the presence of a hurdy-gurdy among dozens of untightened strings; is there a cello, too?) are delicately counterpointed by Richardson’s angelically unambiguous vocalizations, on occasion slightly veiled in the mix but always discernible amidst the combined textural particles. The “forceful grace” of these arrangements emerges by playing the record rather loud: the close miking reveals a plurality of crucial shades enhancing the “soul-gripping” factor, selected segments just about consuming in their persuasive organic harmoniousness.
Most of all, I tend to associate the music to the phases of a life cycle. The title track is quite easy to approach in its childhood-like candor. “Wolfhou” discloses more introvert aspects, similarly to the discoveries – not necessarily charming – experienced by an adolescent during the path towards adulthood. The magnificent “Seed Memory” – this reviewer’s darling episode – is almost suffocating in its summoning forth of a bittersweet awareness, dejectedly droning reiterations signaling the abrupt realization that we haven’t that much time at our disposal anymore. “Relics” is grittier and harsher: a man tries fighting the inevitable end but realizes that his physical forces are fading, and starts panicking in solitude.
However, the recognition of recurrence saves everybody from the demoralizing picture of decay that the brain generates when one remains unaccompanied and spiritless. Gradually, we’re preparing ourselves to start again from scratch.