Monday, 14 February 2011

Death reviewed by Silent Ballet


Eric Quach and Jon Atwood have a lot in common: a love for guitar drones and soundscapes, a hunger for making music in their every breathing moment (nearly a hundred releases between the two of them) and an apparent disregard for that long horizontal button on the keyboard that we feeble mortals refer to as a “space bar”. Another similarity is that both are avid collaboration fans, so perhaps this collaboration - as the case is with the album's subject matter – was an inevitability.

The topic of death has been handled in all its forms and varying perspectives by artists, scientists and religious scholars alike. The subject has puzzled and awed humans as far as humanity has existed. It has been viewed as a passage to a different life, a temporary residence for the eternal soul, and simply as the end, the final full stop on the page of life. The thought of death provokes a multitude of mixed emotions: in some, a fear of the unknown, in others, a sense of eternal peace.

Drone music, when done right, has the ability to translate the friction between various contradictory feelings. It has the ability to lead the listener through an intended stream of thought to varying tangential routes determined by mood, personality, life philosophy and upbringing. This album succeeds in forcing this solemn state of mind onto the listener."Sand" starts slowly with a measured progression, bringing to mind Leah Buckareff's drop tuned bass sound and note choices for Nadja. This ensures the listener that this collaboration will yield much different results than either artist's previous works. In reality, neither artist is going totally out of his musical comfort zone; it is more of a compromise on the part of each to make the other's effort shine. Thisquietarmy's heavily abrasive sounds are trimmed down, while yellow6's reverb laden dreamy guitar appears a bit less dreamy, which makes the narrative all the more strong.

This becomes most apparent in the last track, “Salt”, which fills the entirety of the LP’s second side. The track is the best window into both artist's death perspective. Sadness and mourning are there, but one can't help but notice a romantic side. There's a sense that with every step taken back to try to avoid the inevitable, one is taken forward in an effort to discover that vast unknown. In this case, the metaphor used for the immeasurable emptiness of death is that of being stranded alone in the desert. This apt comparison is expertly executed with the aid of Dirk Serries' (VidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning); his mastering skills help the songs to gel together perfectly.

Proficient might be the key word here. The album doesn't stray far from either artist's established sound, and their experimental willingness seems a bit absent. This is probably why this album doesn't yield the fantastic results of Quach's previous efforts with Aidan Baker and Scott Cortez. Quach and Atwood have already announced that this is the first of two releases they'll be doing together, and this is definitely a good sign. Let's hope they push more boundaries on the next one.-

Mohammed Ashraf

PS. As I was writing this, the light in the hotel I’m staying in went out entirely. I’m left with the music and only the light from my laptop. I would definitely recommend listening to this album in that state; just adds a whole new level to everything.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

gig date update

a few small updates to the forthcoming gigs....

Feb 26
yellow6 + when day chokes the night
plane Ari Home gigs
concerts à la maison à WANQUETIN ( près d'Arras)

concert privé, réservation obligatoire / contact:
(reservation obligatory - email )

Feb 27
Tonefloat Festival
paradox ,Telegraafstraat 62, 5038 BM – Tilburg, Netherlands
ron geesin / the use of ashes / astralasia / march / sand snowman / the sleep of reason

Feb 28
Aucan / Yellow6
la zone, Liege
address : La Zone asbl, 27 Rue Méan, B-4020 Liège

Mar 02
Yellow6 / Nuage Nuage
le monde moderne, Lille
12 Rue des Trois Couronnes59000 Lille, France

Mar 03
Yellow6 / Le Vehicule
Espace B, Paris
16 Rue Barbanègre 75019 Paris, France

Mar 04
cancelled (working on an alternative)

Mar 05
Live Looping Festival
Arenberg Schouwburg
Arenbergstraat 28, Antwerpen, Belgium

Theo Travis, Aidan Baker, Premonition Factory, Kunst4life, Simeon Harris, Yellow6.

and some fliers:

Sunday, 6 February 2011

close/r review from [sic] magazine

by Brett Spaceman 7.5/10

yellow6 (real name Jon Attwood), the thinking man’s guitarist, the connoisseurs choice, the former punk now pushing minimalism to the utmost limits, rejects the idea that he is ambient. When previously I tried to tag him as a ‘guitar Harold Budd’, he claimed never to have heard Budd, nor to have paid over much attention to Eno or any of the early ambient pioneers. Fair enough. But when Attwood started y6 it was, what I suppose we’d call, guitar and electronics nugaze and he has moved steadily more and more….less. Recent y6 albums have been stretched out, Iberian guitar vistas with percussive beats few and far between. Sometimes Attwood is so laid back he’s horizontal. A cliché, I know, but many clichés are born out of a kind of truth and the horizon is prominent in y6 work.
This time around, Attwood has REALLY gone and done it. This album should probably be considered as more of a project or even a study. The tagline for Close/r is something like “Three chords. Ten collaborators”. The basic premise – Attwood conjured a simple guitar refrain, a three chord progression, albeit a languid one (35-40 seconds!) and then he sent it out to friends. So, whereas many artists rope in colleagues to remix their work, Attwood wanted his contemporaries to focus in on a specific movement and offer their interpretation. Once the results were back in, Attwood arranged them into three gargantuan tracks.
Close/r is 70 minutes of that same sequence. Yep, it’s relentless. I didn’t even know before I played it so I sat open mouthed as ‘Close/r One’ staggered past 6 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes etc before finally clocking in at 29 minutes long. 29 minutes of the same thing! Well no, actually the whole album is the same. Could this be a monumental pîss take, I thought? Or is it just monumental? The former is a delicious idea. Y6 has his detractors and the thought of certain individuals sitting through Close/r, tormented to carpet-chewing degrees, is worth recording an album in itself. Sadly though, it is 99.9% certain to be a serious piece of work. And so it should be for it certainly made me think.
“There’s joy in repetition.” (Prince)
If we’re saying Close/r is all the same thing, so what? So is a long, hot soak in the bath. But actually, crucially, it isn’t. That’s the point. Yes the chord sequence is the same. But each track takes that melody and builds upon it. Each of the three Close/r’s is a progression, putting layer upon layer of individual nuances into the piece. Close/r Two and Three are particularly rich. Indeed the climactic minutes of Close/r 2 almost take us out of the ‘foundation’ sequence altogether. (Fear not, it’s still there. It just sounds different)
After living with Close/r for a while it is obvious to me that the repetitive element is just a vehicle for the rest of the contributions. Here, the guitar is the car, Attwood is the driver, but his friends provide the scenery en route. It is almost not a y6 record in this respect. Where Close/r is revelatory is in its message. This record reveals the myriad possibilities open to recording artists. There are choices to be made at every turn. How to perform? What instruments to use? What key? How to record, produce, edit, mix and master? So many directions that a song can go in. Or in this case, one simple chord pattern. That now infamous sequence becomes a mantra, more emptying than filling. Close/r is greater than a project or a study, it’s a meditation.
An amazing and informative piece of work.