A typical musical career might go something like this: early EP followed by three albums, each with a cluster of singles. The twilight period usually signals the "Retrospective Collection". There, you throw in a couple of new songs to cajole existing fans into buying. Et voila.
How refreshing then, to be reminded of the extent Yellow6 are not remotely typical. Jon Attwood has been one of the most esteemed and prolific composers of electronic dream-pop and chilled ambience of the last decade. Singles and albums of course but add to compilation
tracks, split-side releases, remixes, mp3 rarities and even fan-only Christmas Card mixes. If a Yellow6 discography even exists, Attwood must have a full time biographer! At the last count, he had exceeded 50 releases on almost as many labels. A collectors dream then, or nightmare, depending on your outlook.
Yellow6 ignore the safe, lazy route of the "Best-of" in favour of this 3 CD collection of all the rare, deleted and unreleased songs. If you know Yellow6 already, this is an essential addition even to the most fastidious of completist collector. If you are unfamiliar, I envy you. Lovingly compiled within a lavish foldout digipak, with each of the 40 tracks accompanied by notes and artwork, this is Christmas and Birthday come at once.
The music itself wanders between textural ambiance and progressive electronica.
As you might expect, his mastery of the studio is evident. Yet Attwood began
as a guitarist, and his string arrangements are notable throughout. Perhaps
what sets Yellow6 apart from the crowd is his feel for rhythm. There is a real
understanding of rhythmic direction on display from the very earliest tracks
here. Hold up for example could almost be rooted in World music. Imagine
Dead Can Dance remixed by Labradford. Elsewhere, there can be found a lilting,
swaying, dub ambience, in songs like Normalize.
Highlights? Cale is joyous, Expressway427 majestic. Rain (Again), like other tracks within this collection, is a persuasive argument that Yellow6 took up the baton dropped by Bark
Psychosis after their landmark Hex album. Following a signature chime, the guitar part slowly unfolds like a flower under time-lapse photography. There are many other such epiphanies, including tracks many of my peers would claim as their all time favourite Yellow6 pieces.
The archetypal or definitive Yellow6 album remains debatable. For me, it would
range between the languid, formative Overtone and the more progressive
demands of Disappear Here.
For the latecomer though, The Beautiful Season… could well be
the ideal point of entry. No leftovers package, this. Imagine thumbing through
a beautiful compendium of still photographs only to discover that these were
the ones that didn't quite fit into the artist's main exhibition. How is that
for "wow" factor?
Whether you favour his intimate side or his grandeur, Yellow6 has an ambiance that never allows itself to become background music. From contemplative meditations to heartwarming optimism, Yellow6 moves through the spectrum, engaging, rather than liberating, the listener.
The leaves are in the snow, but if you've ever looked closely you'll already know that it's beautiful still, even in this season.