Yellow6: Painted Sky

Painted Sky is probably as good a description as any to suggest the panoramic sweep of Yellow6's (Jon Attwood) guitar-based style. Often ponderous and meditative, the Leicestershire-based musician drapes his six-string's reverberant shudder and twang across lonely desert vistas—even the cover calls to mind the never-ending expanses shown at the outset of Wenders' Paris/Texas. Though guitar is the primary focal point, the album's ten pieces aren't entirely single-instrument settings as Attwood constructs most songs from layers of multiple guitars, bass, organ, piano, and an occasional drum pattern. Recorded between 2004 and 2006, Painted Sky's mood is generally melancholic and wistful, and likening Yellow6 to a vocal-less Labradford wouldn't be too far off the mark even if the dark ambiance of “Common” positions the album more squarely within Badalamenti territory. At times, Attwood wisely broadens his sound beyond its solo guitar-oriented core (the charming interlude “NYE 2,” for example, shifts the focus almost exclusively to keyboards). The downside is that the Yellow6 sound sometimes is conventionalized as a result; sans drum accompaniment, “Mare” and “Eighteen Days” would be more striking guitar showcases. While Painted Sky is a lovely collection and a superb introduction for those new to Yellow6, it's also about ten minutes too long; the four pieces in the eight-minute range could have been shortened by a minute or two, making for a more concise listening experience. Having said that, there's also no disputing the mournful beauty of “Requiem For Julian” and cathedralesque splendour of “Pleasure/Pain” where Atwood layers minimal acoustic plucks over a descending wave of burning electric haze.

May 2007