Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep: Yellow6 : "Painted Sky" (Resonant)

Boring Machines Disturbs Sleep

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yellow6 : "Painted Sky" (Resonant)

Three things in life are certain. Death, taxes and quality releases from Yellow6. The solo project of Jon Attwood, Yellow6 releases have graced the coolest indie labels on the planet, from Darla right through to Make Mine Music. For "Painted Sky" (his 7th album and over 50th release in total), Attwood seems to have found his true home through the Resonant Label who can count kindred spirits like Port-Royal and Library Tapes amongst their roster. Amazingly, this is the first release by a British artist from the UK label.

As a relative newcomer to Yellow6's music (I bought "Disappear Here" around 18 months ago), I was hugely impressed by his contributions to compilations for a few European based labels. It seems, despite the prolific nature of his abiltiy to write songs, quality is rarely a problem. It appears to be the case with "Painted Sky" too, where Attwood has opted to dismantle his sound, instead using just guitar, piano and subdued percussion elements only. It is testament to his abilities, therefore, that his guitar-based experiments here, are some of the most emotive and rich sounding of the year.

"Pleasure/Pain" is an absolutely gorgeous piece of music, with a cool, pronounced melody that combines with frost-bitten guitar work for over eight beautiful minutes. A definite album highlight. Attwood's sound mixes the key elements of cult bands like Bark Psychosis, New York experimentalists Charles Atlas, some of the earlier Kranky artists and even hints of Ennio Morricone. "I Know I Shouldn't (But I Do)", is a superb album opener, like the most affecting Labradford number you've never heard. Full of vivid guitar notes, dripping with melancholy, they reverberate from speaker to speaker. The track becomes more aggressive, towards the end his guitar tone is full-bodied and even a little anguished sounding.

"I Loved You More Before I Knew You Loved Me", comes across like a gigantic music box, with the sounds of Attwood's guitar slowly weaving intricate lines around a shimmering backdrop. "Common", meanwhile, gives us the first hint of the subtle percussion, mentioned in the press release. Using more glacial melodies and guitar distortion, this track is transported into darker territiories with the addition of Massive Attack style beat work and mysterious sound effects.

It is tracks like "Common", "Mare" and "Azure" that prevent "Painted Sky" from being one-paced and repetitive. There is no disputing Attwood's guitar skills, but changes in tempo help space out the driftng ambient passages. Both "Azure" and "Mare", for example, make good use of excellent organic percussion, while Attwood sprays a combination of subtle, distorted and reverbed guitar tones around his canvas. It is a simple, but effective technique.

With over 50 releases its never easy to know where to start with Yellow6. I would suggest "Painted Sky", it contains most of the elements of Attwood's sound. Consistency is never an issue, steeped in emotion "Painted Sky" features several heart-breaking moments . For organic guitar and piano experiments in an ambient post-rock/shoegazer vein, you could do far worse than visit Attwood's back catalogue. But in 2007, he stands shoulder to shoulder with some of his more famous counterparts and "Painted Sky" could very well be soundtracking these last few weeks of Spring.

Rating - 84%


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At 12 April, 2007, Blogger Jason h said...

Going to Cali this weekend!! We're you the one asking me about the government grants website? Here it is..Here ya go..


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