archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. early 00’s …..
THE BEAUTIFUL SEASON HAS PAST
A superb three disc retrospective featuring the much overlooked talents of Yellow 6 AKA Jon Attwood. This compilation release the first for fledging North London based label RROOPP gathers together a astonishing 40 tracks recorded between 1996 and 2004 that account for nearly four hours of sumptuous sonic sculptures while marking Y6’s 50th release.
An immense overview that features a wealth of long deleted cuts and compilation appearances including the entire set that featured on 1999’s scarce ‘Icanhearthemusicallaroundme’ mini album originally released by Atomic Recordings. In addition there are ten previously unreleased nuggets that include a few much sought after magazine freebies (Robots and Electronic Brains, Ear / View, Aluminaut, Overdub, the Satellite and Mass Transfer) as well as half an albums worth of material initially intended for a proposed full length for Enraptured records (the rest of the album appearing piecemeal on various compilations such as the annual ‘Merry6mas’ sets). The set also comes housed with extensive release details about each track along with liner notes from Jack of Enraptured / Endorphin Records fame.
Okay so with the introductory spiel out of the way the release itself. Visitors to these pages will no doubt be all to aware of our affection for the work of Yellow 6 to say that he has been as much a part of our listening space as the hi-fi itself is to put it mildly. Personally my introduction to Yellow 6 was when I was writing for another music magazine some years back (Record Mart and Buyer) and received for review a copy of the Bearos release ‘Hold-Up’ / ’Series 2’ – a dinky little instrumental thing pressed on translucent yellow vinyl which I instantly fell in love with, particularly the flip cut which if memory serves I noted in the ensuing write up thus ’with music this good who needs words’ or something to that effect. (But then that’s not entirely accurate – my first introduction was unwittingly with one of several local punk bands that Jon played in during the mid 80’s by the name of Hagar the Womb which we’d proudly discovered via the late John Peel). ‘Series 2’ happily features here and for me is still my favourite Yellow 6 track and pretty much encompasses succinctly everything that the Yellow 6 ‘sound’ is about – expressive, colourful, graceful, poised – an aural photograph of a moment / a mood enshrined forever.
For the uninitiated to describe Yellow 6’s music in a nutshell would be to say reference wise, existing in some nether world between the polar sonic continents of the delicate fabrics weaved by Vini Reilly of Durutti Column fame and the atmospheric majesty of Mogwai and GSYBE while in between serving as a hushed sanctuary for Robin Guthrie, Labradford, John Carpenter and John Barry (especially the dreamy shimmer pop of ‘Leaving Time’ -kind of Dire Straits ‘Private Investigations’ meets Dark Side Floyd). Self described as the ‘calm after the storm’ the sounds capes are spacious, sometimes brittle, partly glacial appearing like the ebb and flow of the lunar tides, the cycle of the seasons sometimes tempestuous and foreboding, yet crafted with an alluring classicism and though often skeletally sleight they’re awash with translucent ripples of resonance and carved in lushly textured slices of lilting ambience.
As advertised ‘the Beautiful season has past’ is a three CD document revealing in the main for the way it provides evidence of the development and attention to detail in the workmanship and the realisation of Atwood’s song craft and how it’s matured (from the early drone a la classic Kranky compositions to the honey combed epiphanies found gliding within his last full length ‘Melt Inside’ from last summer) to be the point where you can do nothing but trip over superlatives in an attempt to describe them. Every base is covered here – on CD 1 – you want chilled out exotic night settings that sound like succulently reprises of Space’s ’Female of the Species’ then look no further than ’Hold Up‘; elsewhere there’s the monumental Morricone meets Vengelis tear jerking, emotion shredding crouched up on the floor begging for mercy ’Unknowing A’ along with it’s sonic sibling the audacious and beautifully frosted grandeur that is ’Unknowing B’ – Gnac eat your heart out. The achingly pensive stellar overture ’The Room’ is a wonderful marinating of MBV meets early noise pop FSA while the absolute gem like ‘Improvisation #1’ (previously unreleased – and forgotten would you believe – on CD 3 there‘s another mislaid cut ‘La Cave‘) s one of those rare moments when the inner intimacy and the teasing caress of a composition combine to leave you struck dumb with a sense of unflinching affection.
As mentioned earlier in passing CD 2 features ‘Icanhearthemusicallaroundme’ in its entirety along with an aborted Enraptured album. These track feature some of the earliest Y6 recordings, drifting and Cathedral-esque glacial mood music which sound wise (measured, widescreen and contemplative) is not a million miles away from the kind of stuff being released by Roy Montgomery at the time, not so much shoe gaze but rather more star gaze – Glide enthusiasts will swoon with ’Light Dome II’ in particularly providing insight as to the direction of sound that would be adopted on the forthcoming Jonathon Whiskey and Enraptured releases a year later, though that said the hidden treasure is to be found on the mellowing spectral haze of the haunting ‘Icanhear‘. CD 3 culls together a plethora of single and split appearances on the numerous labels he’s featured on during the course of the last 10 years – from the minimalist atmospherics of the Floyd-esque ‘Object #1’ (the earliest recording on the set); the Cocteau’s caught in a solar dust storm like ‘Perception Received’ (Y6’s debut release); the amorphous ‘(the first) of Winter’ which is lovingly coated in such a refined stillness that you keep feeling obliged to peep out of the window to make sure you haven’t been house bound by some kind of freak snowdrift and of course the lilting celestially bathed dream pop splendour of ‘Redlightcamera’.
All in all deserving of the 5 e’s – epic, enigmatic, elegiac, ethereal and of course – essential. For further reading and a chance to hear an additional unreleased cut check out http://www.myspace.com/jonyellow6