Monday, March 1, 2021
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Yellow6: silent streets and empty skies

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Artist: Yellow6 (@)
Title: silent streets and empty skies
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence Records (@)
Rated: * * * * *
Yellow6 is the solo project of British guitarist Jon Attwood, based in Leicestershire, UK, working in post rock, minimalist, electronica and ambient genres. His discography is fairly massive...I counted 49 releases on his Bandcamp site, and there certainly could be more he was involved in. Since 1998 Attwood has played many shows in Europe and North America, and has collaborated with many other artists such as Portal, Thisquietarmy, Absent Without Leave, Caught In the Wake Forever, David Newlyn, Charles Atlas, Stafraen Hakon and many others. It's obvious that Mr. Attwood gets around, but lately, since the pandemic, not so much. That's obviously where this title comes in - 'silent streets and empty skies' could just as well be your town too. Attwood lives by an airport, hence the empty skies now that once were busy skies. The album was recorded during the lockdown between April and June 2020.

There are 9 tracks for a duration of about 77 minutes, and though predominantly guitar, some minimal percussion and atmospherics help things along. Yellow6's mysterious opener, "Unbroken Sun (One)" seems to beg the question - "Where did everybody go?" It's rhetorical because we know the answer, but it does speak to eerily deserted streets, closed shops and a definite lack of human traffic; the Twilight Zone for sure. The broad sustained chords of "Safe" offer some comfort and familiarity, like a cozy pair of old slippers, a cup of herbal tea and a good book to curl up with. "V2" has an undertone of drone while Yellow6 works some mild melodic riff magic. The gossamer padding backing the guitar is perfect for the atmosphere. It all sounds rather shoegazey. The repeating melodic content of "Broadcast" makes me think of something off of Eno's 'Another Green World' if it was played mainly on guitar.

"Unbroken Sun (Two)" bears little similarity to "Unbroken Sun (One)" seeming more tentative and introspective. Thus begins the album's atmospheric abstract phase which is carried into the lengthy (18:42) "Panam." Yet there is a defined structure and motif here, unfolding like a delicate flower and playing out to its inevitable dream-like conclusion. The first three minutes or so of "Doubled" are spent in an elegant sort of drone reminding me of the opening of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," (although it really doesn't sound like it), but the chord progression that follows is a nice one, becoming fuller and more dynamic as it moves along, with a train-chugging sort of percussion backing. Eventually it fragments into something different and more delicate, but no less enjoyable. The initial somnambulant lullaby of "Silent Flight" is broken a third of the way through by jet fuel distortion leaving lasting vapor trails across an empty skyline.

The conclusion, "Unbroken Sun (Three)" is a sort of ruminating piece that begs the question- "Where do we go from here?" It's anybody's guess I suppose, but from what we've already experienced in 2020, likely no place good right away, and that's kind of sad, just like this track. 'silent streets and empty skies' seems to be the perfect soundtrack for these times, at least for now; elegantly executed, poignant and subtly potent. It comes in two versions - the standard limited edition of 200, handmade and hand numbered CD-r copies in a dusty grey cardboard envelope with a polaroid style photo affixed to the cover, or the deluxe limited edition of 100 is similar packaging to the standard that also includes a second CD-r entitled 'Almost Free' (6 tracks, 45 min.) inspired by the impeding relaxation of the pandemic restrictions in Attwood's area that didn't last long. Whichever you choose, it's sure to be rewarding.


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