More praise for Offtempo !

Very happy to see so much positive reviews coming up these days. Glad to see other people thinking/feeling like me about it.

5 Stars @ Norman

“Ooh I like this a lot. I played this the other morning and it totally set me up for the day. In a word it’s fucking lovely. OK that’s two words but counting was never my strong point. Larkian is a name from the past who I’ve not heard of in a while but I remember hearing a single by him on Tricycle Evolutif back in 2001 (yes 10 years ago). Yellow 6 you’re all of course familiar with and the pair have teamed up for this collaborative effort on Basses Frequences/Three Four Records. This is one of those file sharing things where artists batter musical tracks too and from across the Internet until an album is born. It features the usual Yellow6 post rock melodies as well with more of a shoegazey vibe running through some of the tracks. There’s plenty of reverb and atmospheric sounds-capes to indulge yourself in as well. It’s drifting and evocative music which works really well. This is a fine collaboration and you should already be getting excited in case they do another one!”

Bring together two experimental guitarists sensitive to atmosphere and schooled in the ways of ambient, drone, post-rock, and shoegaze genres and what do you get? Offtempo, an hour-long collaboration between Larkian (Cyril Monnard) and Yellow6 (Jon Attwood). The two go back a ways, with Attwood having released the seven-inch Yellow6 single Grey on Monnard’s Tricycle Evolutif label in 2002. Subsequent discussions about a split release never came to fruition, but 2009 found them once again pooling their energies and initiating a year-long process of file exchanges that now finds its way into the world as Offtempo.
Their voices blend together remarkably well, so much so that without knowing otherwise one would assume that what is being presented is the work of a single player, albeit one armed with the gear necessary to generate multiple layers of tremolo effects, loops, and textural shadings. Offtempo is anything but a gunslinging session; instead, the guitarists truly collaborate on creating a rich and delicately woven soundworld where their voices complement one another and their contributions blend into a whole greater than the parts. Listeners with a taste for ambient guitar-based moodscaping will find the release especially satisfying.
“Jazz F2B” is hardly jazz but rather five minutes of creeping drone atmospherics that shudders and shimmers broodingly; “Walz,” on the other hand, does use 3/4 time as a springboard for the duo’s explorative forays, while “Rita” is suitably supplicating in tone. A hint of post-rock emerges during “Untitled3” in the form of a plodding cymbal pattern and burning atmospherics that point the duo’s material a little bit in the direction of Nadja and thisquietarmy. Though still relatively peaceful in nature and tempo, “Pool” smolders and snarls a tad more ferociously as it cultivates an air of spectral wonderment.
Offtempo is also an interesting set on sequencing grounds. With one exception, each track is slightly longer than the one before, and consequently the recording’s first six pieces set the stage for the album’s ultimate and most powerful piece, “Séquences inversées,” a seventeen-minute epic of ethereal beauty. As wave upon billowing guitar wave rolls in, it’s hard not to be reminded of Popul Vuh’s equally unearthly Aguirre soundtrack and to think that “Séquences inversées” could be conjoined rather seamlessly to the Popul Vuh work. Monnard and Attwood’s slow-burning colossus brings this consistently strong collaborative effort to a stunning conclusion.

Fluid Radio

Mass collaborator, prolific artist and soundscape architect Jon Atwood (Yellow6) joins Cyril Monnard (Larkian) to release one of the best albums of the year so far. An hour long dreamscape, woven with intelligent guitar work, intense drones and a sense of assuredness that fixates the listener into a position of awe for the duration of the album.
‘Offtempo’ kicks off in what people may perceive as typical Atwood sounds, minimalism rules supreme in “Jazz F2B”. The production is fantastic and each sound in the sonic spectrum shines. What lies ahead, however, is what makes this album stand out. “Walz” starts off with a guitar line played in three/four, sounding like what Adam Jones would play if Tool had been a post-rock band. The guitar interplay is simply magnificent, layering simple three note melodies on top of each other and allowing them to exit and enter as they please. They might be played offtempo, but they sound magnificent.
It really is the sweet guitar melodies that distance this album from others in the genre (NB. if I say “guitar” one more time in this review, I think I will achieve some sort of record). Usually, even in Atwood’s previous releases, the guitar (yes! We have a record, someone call Guinness!) is laid to sleep  under a multitude of ethereal blankets of reverb, the strings sound like they’ve never been plucked and the strum is nonexistent. The resulting waves are stripped of their origins, with only remains of their signals reaching the audience. That definitely isn’t a bad thing, but when one hears that chord dropping, the experience changes completely. The music feels that much more complete in a sense, the listener can get in touch with the humans that made this music with ease; the interplay takes us into the musician’s minds and guides us through their respective streams of thought. The guitar enthusiasts will pick up their guitars and try to play along, or replicate the experience on their own. It creates a bridge between creator and receiver in a way. It picks the album up from the realm of background music and makes it into a living, breathing entity that demands the full, undivided attention of its audience.
The noisy elements introduced in “Pool” add depth, contrast and tighten the duo’s grasp on the listener further. What starts off a spacey wandering piece that doesn’t stray that far from The Sky Moves Sideways era Porcupine Tree then turns into a constant tug of war between the beautiful and the dissonant, moving in waves created by reverberating drones and subdued noises. One thing to note which signifies the strength of this release is that at this point, every track left me with the feeling of “this is my favorite track on the album”, and till the point of writing this, with the beautiful last track “Sequences Inversees” playing in my headphones, resonating with full force within my being, listening to the album for the tenth or eleventh time, I remain to find the answer to that question. This is a work of utter beauty.
In all fairness, I came into this album expecting the same old ambient album, not expecting anything new, and I am glad to have been proven extremely wrong.  This is the best thing I have heard out of Yellow6’s insanely huge discography so far, and I guess we have Larkian to thank for that. They have brought the best out of each other and released an album that one shouldn’t dare miss. Mr. Atwood, Mr. Monnard, I salute thee.
– Mohammed Ashraf for Fluid Radio


~ by bassesfrequences on November 26, 2011.

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