Richard Skelton as The Inward Circles
‘Belated Movements for an Unsanctioned Exhumation August 1st 1984’ is Richard Skelton’s second album as The Inward Circles, following 2014’s ‘Nimrod is Lost in Orion and Osyris in the Doggestarre’. If his previous offering hovered ‘between the empyreal and the subterranean’, ‘Belated Movements’ is resolutely earthbound, beginning at ground level and slowly moving ever downward. The title is a reference to ‘Lindow Man’, one of many bog bodies discovered in northern Europe in the twentieth century, and continues an archaeological theme which first surfaced in his 2013 *AR collaboration with Autumn Richardson, entitled ‘Succession’. In particular, it is the last composition from that album, ‘Relics’, which can now be seen as starting point for much of Skelton’s future work as The Inward Circles. But whereas ‘Relics’ dealt with the pollen remnants submerged beneath tarns in the remote Cumbrian uplands, ‘Buried Movements’ evokes a distinctly funerary landscape.
The first piece, ‘Petition for Reinterment’ begins in familiar terrain - a slow, solemn string elegy - but it gently begins to disintegrate, to distend and rot, as if the music itself is being subsumed in soil and subjected to the natural cycles of decay and renewal. It is interesting to note that, whilst the skin of bog-bodies is often very well preserved, the bones undergo a process of decalcification - they literally dissolve from within. But exhumations such as ‘Lindow Man’ are now artificially preserved behind museum glass, removed from time, from earthly contact and the inexorable progress of nature itself.
By contrast, the music of ‘Belated Movements’ continues its inner transformation, and ‘To Your Fox-Skin Chorus’ divulges more of its innards, revealing hitherto unheard melodic, rhythmic and textural material. The reference to fox-skin, borrowed from Edmund Gosse, alludes to the fox-fur arm-covering found on ‘Lindow Man’, and, more obliquely, to the fox as a psychopomp - a soul guide - which formed a central theme in Skelton’s recent ‘Ferae Naturae’ book and exhibition.
The album concludes with a further downward delving to the bones of animals long made extinct in England by humans: the wolf, lynx and bear - animals that haunt the popular imagination. Here the music is at its most restless and forbidding, as it ends with an urgent call - ‘Canis, Lynx, Ursus: Awake, Arise, Reclaim’. There is a palpable sense, with its almost unbearable crescendo, of a rising up, a return to the surface, and a threatening quiet.
Richard Skelton will launch ‘Belated Movements for an Unsanctioned Exhumation August 1st 1984 at three headline UK shows including 20 March Islington Mill Salford, 21 March De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill on Sea and 22 March St John on Bethnal Green as part of Saisonscape, Art Assembly's bi-monthly series of experimental music, inspired by the seasons. Titled Landscape, these spring shows will reflect on sound born out of, or inspired by, the land. Advanced copies of the new album will be available at these shows.