(Sustain-Release)

Given that the large part of this label’s editions comes in extremely limited quantities – from a single copy (!) to 28, to 100 – and that every item is singularly assembled and personalized with a dedication to the receiver, handmade artwork with beautiful leaves and similar preparations plus fascinating graphic design and photos by Louise Skelton, then consider this review a random choice justifying my invitation to fathom the artistic microcosm of a gentleman named Richard Skelton from Lancashire (UK), father of Sustain-Release and – under various monikers – of the music contained here and in other albums published by the imprint. The whole enterprise is a veritable loving memory, moved by the need of perpetuating the presence, both artistic and spiritual, of someone whose short life has inspired Skelton’s in many aspects. One can perceive this endeavour in every minute of the music, which in the case of The Shape Leaves consists of six tracks of spellbinding single-chord acoustic tapestries where bowed guitars, violin, harmonium (probably something else too, but it’s not so important) and loops constitute the core of a sound that seems to represent the artist’s will to fill his mind with vibrations whose sheen helps dampening the effects of a deeply rooted sorrow. For strict musical references, Skelton has already been inserted by many in a specific area, halfway through new acoustic folk and neo-psychedelia. I myself believe that this album could attract people whose tastes range from Third Ear Band to Peter Wright. But what I really want to emphasize as more relevant than anything else is the bright light of Richard’s devotion, something that transpires from his entire approach to art and music. A genuine, creative, deserving man.

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