Aarktica, the project of deaf New York-based guitarist Jon DeRosa, a pupil of LaMonte Young,
collected his early ambient droning pieces on the
bedroom recordings No Solace In Sleep (2000), opened by his 13-minute artistic manifesto Glacia, and the
EP Morning One (Ochre, 2001), containing the ten-minute
He turned to slocore and dream-pop on
Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life And Be Happy Anyway (Darla, 2002),
Pure Tone Audiometry (Silber, 2003),
with Big Year and Williamsburg Counterpoint,
Bleeding Light (Darla, 2005), containing
A Shadow Knife and Bleeding Light,
Matchless Years (Darla, 2007), virtually a pop album with DeRosa
fronting a band (although a band of shifting elements).
In Sea (Silber, 2009) returned to his instrumental droning roots,
sculpting ambience with only electric guitar and a vintage pump organ.
The slowly-revolving mournful drone of I Am (The Ice) sounds like
an existential statement.
The stately LYMZ is an explicit tribute to LaMonte Young.
A Plague of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds) is soothing no-frills
ambient music for sustained guitar tones.
In Sea is a more turbulent composition, with the tones slightly
distorted and undulating.
Corpse Reviver No. 2 is a delicate concerto for geometrically cascading tones.
Young Light is one of the more melodic and lively instrumental vignettes.
When We're Ghosts is the one piece in which the guitar attains a
shoegazing degree of noise. The others tend to play with minimal and subdued
There are only two songs, the better one being
Hollow Earth Theory, but mostly this mixed album proves how much more
poignant DeRosa's instrumental music can be than his vocal one.
A Danzig cover closes the album in a surreal manner.
DeRosa was also active as Dead Leaves Rising and Pale Horse And Rider.
Vlor, an acoustic guitar duo (Russell Halasz and
Brian John Mitchell) that had already released
the EPs Lavished (1997) and Luxate (1998), and whose
Sacred Places in the City (recorded in 1999) was released only in 2006,
became a supergroup of sorts with the eclectic
A Fire is Meant for Burning (2006), featuring
Brian John Mitchell (bass, guitar, vocals),
Jon DeRosa of Aarktica (guitar) and
Jessica Bailiff (guitar, percussion, keyboard).
Their second album Six-Winged (Silber, 2009) added
Annelies Monsere (guitar, cello, vocals, melodica, piano), Martin Newman (guitar),
Mae Starr of Rollerball (vocals),
Jim DeJong (strings), Michael Walton (guitar),
Brian McKenzie (guitar, bass, percussion),
Michael Wood (vocals),
Magen McAvenney (vocals),
and Paolo Messere (guitar, bass, percussion, keyboard).
The music though remains a random collection of ideas that rarely coalesce
into something truly memorable. The ethereal madrigal I Have Left Home
doesn't go anywhere. The suspenseful atmosphere of Without Blame simply
loops on itself. The guitar pattern of Never To Be Rebuilt could be
the riff for a great pop song, but instead simply repeats for two minutes.
She Goes Out With Boys sounds like it's about to explode but never does
Tolerate The Wicked is a mediocre ambient piece a` la Aarktica.
Maybe You Should Chew On My Fist is a more interesting variation on this
format because the drone is warped, distorted and reverbed.
Damage The Land & The Sea is one of the most dramatic vignettes, a
surreal guitar duet, but, again, it doesn't result into any viable structure.
The garage rave-up Watch Me Bleed comes as a relief.
Jon DeRosa debuted solo with A Wolf in Preacher's Clothes (2012).
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