The Lighthouse of 1000 Harmonies

Yellow 6

Closer to the Sea Without Moving

Silber Media, 2014

Review by Kent ManthieYellow6-CloserToTheSeaWithoutMoving

Way back in 1998 (seems like a long time ago), Jon Attwood, a guy who’d been brought up on a steady diet of punk, hardcore and was grooming himself with musical aspirations of his own, he started Yellow 6. His main inspiration, besides the aforementioned, came from “space rock”, that ethereal, doped-up cloud-floating waves of bands such as Spacemen 3 (which, after breaking up, became Spiritualized. I myself, never got into Spiritualized as much as I did Spacemen 3), post-rock, such as Wire, Tubeway Army/Gary Numan, Joy Division, Bauhaus, etc, electronica, “shoegaze” music, then put him own imprimatur on it all.

Over 100 releases and 100 appearances on various compilations in the past 16 years, Yellow 6 has worked at creating their own, unique vision of ambient textures with undertones of melancholy and angst. Combining all that with quiet, droning sounds that derive from guitars, keyboards and drum machines, they’ve made it this far without burning themselves out or imploding from inside tensions.

So, to come to the present, just last month, in October, 2014, they released their latest, Closer to the Sea Without Moving, a very mellow, mellifluous and somber sort of album, with a big emphasis on an ambient sound. The first two cuts, “Looking Back Towards the Sea” and “Lighthouse” are nice, quiet openers that pave the way for what is the main idea of the album: a five-part, title-track “suite”. Songs three through seven comprise parts one-five of “Closer to the Sea”, opening with a sparse, isolated one minute, 20 second, piano solo; a slow-moving, Erik Satie-like structure, followed by an 11 ½ minute part two that brings the piece to life by adding atmospheric backgrounds, a light, two-guitar song that is evocative of a quiet ocean calm. Part three, at 3:42, is a sort of musical soliloquy which, with a louder, stronger-voiced instrumental tone, seems to be pouring its heart out in an apology or a confessional. Part four is just under two minutes and is a segue into the closing Part five, a four ½ minute minimalist epilogue that winds things up, not by bringing it back to the desolate desert of Part one, but to seemingly newly acquired knowledge, maybe self-knowledge, which the protagonist leaves the scene with, knowing that things are heading the direction they are: maybe it’s not the most wished-for outcome, yet it is the way nonetheless and it seems as if acceptance is the tone of this ending.

The last three tunes are a loose affiliation of dreamy ambient works that have a beautiful vista which is seen from the distant mesa their on. The guitar plays a perfect complement to the rich ambient textures of the synthesizers, with a clear, clean, cold winter’s light.

Closer To The Sea Without Moving, takes its inspiration from a real place: a lighthouse on the north coast of Norfolk, Virginia, which, with the slow, geologic progression of time, will one day tumble and its surrounding land be swallowed up by the encroaching Atlantic Ocean. This quaint 200+ year old lighthouse, with its enduring presence about to come to an eventual end, by now, seems to be a lovely relic for those tourists and ones passing through and probably a grand old monument to the locals of the area. I guess, in some way, Yellow 6, are putting forth a instrumental conundrum, which is: “is it better to survive, to continue as a novelty and a shell or to let it all end?” – that last interesting question is something I got from a press release which accompanied the download of this album, to give credit where credit is due.

If you enjoy the calming, soothing ambient sketches of Brian Eno then you will be right at home with this latest release by Yellow 6. -KM.

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