Aarktica, In Sea, released 2009 by Silber Records
01) I Am (The Ice)
03) Hollow Earth Theory
04) A Plague of Frost (In The Guise of Diamonds)
05) In Sea
07) Young Light
09) Corpse Reviver No. 2
11) When We’re Ghosts
12) Am I Demon?
Someone at Silber Records stumbled across my reviews, and recommended I check out In Sea, which was a return by Jon De Rosa to the gentle ambience that preceded Bleeding Light. I was impressed enough by this gesture to do so.
And it is, indeed, right in line with his earlier music: dreamy and wistful. But there’s something missing; the tracks on In Sea feel flat and static. There’s no sense of arc to them, and they don’t offer many surprises. None of the songs have the searing beauty of “Aura Lee” or “Ocean”, or the exhilarating buildup and dancing interplay of “Williamsburg Counterpoint”, or even the poignant melancholy of “a correspondence in film” or “welcome home”.
One of De Rosa’s strengths is his ability to write minimalist music that still arrives somewhere meaningful. Sometimes he does it by changing or adding loops at just the right time to keep you interested and sustain a mood of quiet reflection…and occasionally you look up and you realize a few modest ideas have been woven into a breathtaking tapestry. Sometimes he does it by keeping things at the same level for a minute or two before suddenly opening up, and it’s like a burst of light filling your soul.
And so when compared to what he’s capable of, despite being a perfectly lovely album, In Sea feels like it’s treading water. I don’t know what Matchless Years (2007) was like, but I wonder if Aarktica’s at something of a loss what to do next; unsure how to progress beyond Pure Tone Audiometry but still be a part of the post-rock scene.
(1) Almost certainly a reference to Terry Riley’s seminal In C.