Yellow6: STHLM (Distant Noise Records, 2008)

by Brent

Yellow6 STHLMThe winter of 2007-2008 will no doubt be remembered as a particularly snowy and harsh one for those of us living on the Western shores of the Atlantic Ocean. With frequent blizzards producing record amounts of snowfall, music listeners were left huddling inside our homes, cuddled up in layers of blankets with our headphones in ears in a futile attempt to stay dry and warm. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the winter turned out to be a most fertile one, at least for England’s Jon Attwood, if no one else. Attwood, better known by listeners by the cryptic moniker of Yellow6, spent last winter holed up in Stockholm, Sweden, absorbing the nuances of the Nordic winds and interpreting them as sparse ambient music. The result of this experiment in travel and space was the sprawling landmark double-disc When The Leaves Fall Like Snow, which captured Yellow6 at his most intimate and pensive moments.

Thankfully, UK label Distant Noise Recordings has been able to secure from Attwood 5 more tracks from these Stockholm sessions, compiling them in a CD-R EP appropriately dubbed STHLM. STHLM picks up right where When The Leaves Fall Like Snow left off: gentle angular guitar lines slither between thin layers of atmospheric drones. The sounds on the 5 tracks conjure up images of gently falling snowflakes, northern lights, and still grey scenes. While it would be easy to classify the music found on STHLM with such easy generalizations, its Attwood’s attention to detail that shines through on further listens. The gentle echoing effect he inflicts on his main guitar lines on “8 days”, the light layer of fuzz (or is it tape hiss?) that envelops and warms “No Common Understanding”, the gently melodic Stars of the Lidesque opening notes of “Fyra”, the way Attwood lets his meandering notes linger on “Kulturhuset”, ultimately using silence as a musical tool…these are but a few of the examples of the prowess that Yellow6 shows on his EP. Not only are the subtle melodies strong enough to seep into the listener’s consciousness, but the craftsmanship of the various sounds that Yellow6 uses add dimension and depth to this fascinating recording.

It’s amazing to think that, after releasing two CD’s worth of absolutely gorgeous material, Attwood would still have 5 more tracks that match the quiet intensity and beauty of When The Leaves Fall Like Snow. Yet, here is STHLM, the perfect adjunct of perhaps Yellow6’s finest achievement in his long and storied career. The only problem of this majestic EP, beyond the listener’s desire to hear even MORE of Yellow6’s interpretation of winter in Sweden, is the quite limited availability of this EP which renders it even more of a rare gem. If you can get your hands on STHLM, don’t hesitate: you’ll be buying an EP material that presents Yellow6 at his most focused, inspired, and vulnerable point in his music…the result of that forlorn winter spent walking the streets of Stockholm. Highly recommended!!

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