Andrew Skeet ~ Finding Time

andrew skeetSoundtrack composer Andrew Skeet’s debut album can be seen as an eloquent provocation, one in which the listener is challenged to re-adapt whatever ear she has for the cinematic. Usually, I think we all tend to put images in our minds when we hear movie themes play, and the gut feelings we get are immediately associated as a brief, exciting experience of a whole that keeps the force of its movement as dramatic performance and its repetition in our heads.

When soundtracks play, this relationship is rarely overturned, and there’s an image that accompanies even the most abstract of pieces. So how — this music seems to ask – would a soundtrack lacking visuals play? This is, of course, not a new or innovative question, but it does come from a particular context in which the artist primarily works in the field of movie music, and it shows. From the clearly narrative sense of direction (a setting, a mood, a development, a conclusion), the descriptive passages, and the overtly emotional focus, it feels completely like a soundtrack, except there’s no images attached to it.

The only background available is one of loss: Skeet composed this music as a form of mourning loved ones. With this image in mind, it’s possible to follow the album as an unfolding series of scenes in which love and happiness play and fade. It is a story we are all probably familiar with, and it is this familiarity (as musical predictability, as commonplace melodies and harmonies) what keeps it all together, relying on the listener’s capacity to identify these culturally ingrained signals for specific emotions and sentimental states to be able to flow with the narrative.

While commonplaces have a strained reputation (we are, after all, in a “home for experimental music”), they do have a value in the way they trigger communal feelings, something that is not irreducibly individual and creatively free, but shared and dependent on signifiers with which many can identify. They are images and sounds that belong to no one, and yet many can claim their significance – we know what a string scale in descent means, intuitively, without having to dedicate much attention or thought to it. Most important of all, while it leads to different associations for everyone there’s still a clear sense that we can know, more or less, what the other is feeling. This is why the familiarity of Finding Time is integral to its presentation, because it is not seeking to tell a new story but one that we can all identify with, one which we can all easily follow, as easily as the cinematic language whose rules we are all acquainted with, and without which we could only find a certain solipsism.

That is what, in my view, makes this album interesting, in the sense that it provides a soundtrack for a drama that not only have we all played in, but also know that others have done the same as well. It does not pretend to anything higher, and yet it’s an idea that is more than worthy of a closer listen, the idea that what we really mourn for loss is time escaping from our hearts. It is a commonplace, but what a powerful commonplace it is. (David Murrieta)

Available here.

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