It’s a little difficult to know where to start when discussing a compilation of the likes of The Beautiful Season Has Past. In the past eight years or so, musician Jon Attwood has been one of the most prolific artists around, releasing five full-lengths, twelve mini-albums or EPs, eight singles, five live albums, and a slew of remixes, singles, and compilation tracks. The Beautiful Season Has Past largely collects a huge body of his out-of-print and rare work, with almost all of the forty tracks on this set being very, very difficult to find elsewhere.
The three CDs and forty tracks span well over three and a half hours in length, and cover just about every corner of the ambient, dream, and post rock spectrum. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Attwoods last album Melt Inside (where he teamed up with a vocalist for the first time, with rather bland results), this sprawling CD set contains some of his best work to date, and enough heady music to fill an entire evening of stargazing, couch-surfing, or walking foggy streets. One of the many highlights of the set are the first six tracks of the second disc, which contain the long out-of-print Icanhearthemusicallaroundme mini-album that has since been deleted. With only some minimal drum machine programming and loads of overlapping processed guitar, he creates over a half-hour of gauzy wonderland, with tracks like the ringing “Cale” and deep and dark “Light Dome II” (which sounds like it could have been plucked off an early-90s 4AD album) leading the way.
On the slightly more aggressive side of things, “The Room” is a lo-fi burst of shimmering guitar haze that was originally a split release with 2 By Bukowski, and it shows that Attwood can crank up the volume if need be and still keep things interesting. “Perception Received” carves out unique ground between his louder side and more delicate guitar work, blasting a white-hot arc of noise across a fragile plucked melody that brings out the best in both elements.
The set includes detailed liner notes that give a background and cover art to each track, which is rather interesting, especially considering one previously-unreleased track, the great “La Cave” had even been forgotten about by Attwood until it was brought to his attention by the compiler of the compilation. Because the compilation covers all the years that Attwood has been releasing music, the album is not only a must-have for fans of Yellow6, but is also just as good of a place as any (especially given the bargain price of the set) to dive into his musical world. Not only a testimony to his large and consistent output, the release is also a great document of a truly independent artist at work outside the sphere of large or even medium label support. This is really lovely stuff.