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Aarktica: In Sea In Sea
CD 2009 | Silber 078
12 tracks, 56 minutes
$12 ($18 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~100 megs))

Aarktica returns to Silber for the ten year in the making sequel to No Solace in Sleep!  Check out what will soon be Silber's best selling release ever & an indie ambient classic!  Includes slow-drone cover of Danzig's "Am I Demon?"

: Listen to the track In Sea
: Press release

Track listing:
I Am (The Ice), LYMZ, Hollow Earth Theory, A Plague of Frost ( In The Guise of Diamonds), In Sea, Onward!, Young Light, Autumnal, Corpse Reviver No. 2, Instill, When We're Ghosts, Am I Demon?

Jon DeRosa returned to Silber Records with Aarktica last year, releasing a new album entitled In Sea. This album of calm guitar ambient, drones, and a couple of songs, was subsequently tackled by a host of guest artists, who remixed each song of the album in turn, culminating in three alternative versions of Aarktica’s magnificent cover of Danzig‘s “Am I Demon?”. The balance between the original and the remix album is perfect, and as such, both deserve a place in the spotlight here in turn.
In Sea is my introduction to Aarktica, but it turned out to be a very pleasant one. The strength in DeRosa’s approach to music is the combination of simplicity and refinement. His melodies and chord waves in general have a calm, relaxing sound, appropriate to the album title, and somewhat reminiscent of Dirk Serries‘ recent work on 3 Second of Air and Microphonics. The mournful sounds of the opening track set a somewhat somber (but beautiful!) tone for the start -  a version with a great animated video by Karolina Waclawiak can be seen on youtube. However, the moods shift through the second track, and the uplifting vocal on “Hollow Earth Theory”, which sees DeRosa introducing a more rhythmic approach as well. The whole album stays afloat on this subtle balance of moods and sound textures, with the central highlight being the incredible dronework of the title track. Special mention also goes to the aforementioned Danzig cover. The original, a pounding proto-metal track, is transformed into a brooding and perfectly proportioned vocal ambient track that pushes the album to new heights at the very end.
~ Evening of Light

As long as I'm on the topic of darkwave, I ought to finally proclaim my unbridled enthusiasm for this album from last year. Aarktica is one Jon DeRosa, who funnels a wide range of musical influences into a lusciously hypnotic sound. How wide a range? The album (Aarktica's sixth full-length) title is a pun on Terry Riley's seminal Minimalism work In C, and DeRosa studied composition and Indian classical vocal music with LaMonte Young; second track “LYMZ” is a tribute to Young and his wife Marian Zazeela -- but the closing track is a drastic reworking of the classic Danzig track “Am I Demon?” Richly textured drones built from electric guitars and a pump organ that's at least 70 years old dominate; most tracks are instrumental, which makes the occasional actual song such “Hollow Earth Theory” stand out gloriously.
~ Steve Holtje, Culture Clash

Just before embarking on his recording career, Jon De Rosa lost the hearing in his right ear. Undeterred, he took classes with the inspirational husband and wife composer/artist team LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela to learn how to "listen differently", to attend to the vibration within rather than in the air.
De Rosa generates almost his sounds (and they are many and varied though generally on a strictly gray scale) on a single instrument, the guitar, which he can really make shimmer, plucking, strumming or stroking with a bow, then treating, delaying, reverberating, often climbing a gentle gradient or swelling and receding in peaks and troughs.
I would imagine that a subjective experience of the great outdoors is the unifying theme of In Sea, capturing ocean currents and treetops bending to the wind and cloud formations. ”Lymz” does it by sounding like an old harmonium sighing in and out, like summer finally submitting to fall. The growly "A Plague of Frost" could be the deep soil contracting as it begins its long winter sleep.
As a whole the album is powerfully evocative of a dark cloudy day, a day when the rain will not fall because it´s too cold, but it´s too early for snow, either. But there are also surprises along the way, like when De Rosa breaks into longing and pleasant-enough song on ”Hollow Earth Theory”. ”Young Light” is the ray of light of the album, shiny-faced and optimistic. And he closes by turning Danzig´s hardrock crowdpleaser ”Am I Demon” into a magical flight transcendent.
~ Stephen Fruitman, Sonumu

To say In Sea is ideal listening for facing the notion of enormity, what with its epic-sized guitars and romantic ambience, perhaps best describes the work of Aarktica. After all, few could doubt the chilling grace that permeates, shifts and occasionally cracks these glacial studies of tone, which in their humble build or collapse bring to mind far-reaching horizons and barren landscapes. Yet to pontificate any which way Aarktica should be heard comes attached with a giant asterisk as its author, Jon DeRosa, doesn’t hear his records the way we do. Having suffered permanent, near-total hearing loss in his right ear due to nerve damage, DeRosa’s tale is a unique one; beginning with No Solace In Sleep, a recording that survived aural hallucinations and painkiller-addiction, Aarktica’s discography has been a battle for sound – first re-experiencing it, then exploring its new parameters.
Yet when I looked up his Myspace page, the first track I heard was ‘Seventy Jane’; a near-perfect pop track of new-wave vocals and chiming guitar. I’ve revisited that Matchless Years track several times since, each time finding another detail worth hearing on my headphones, but its indie-rock swagger seemed to void DeRosa’s painful back-story as if his hearing loss hadn’t prevented him from playing ball with everyone else. In Sea changes that; blurring the obvious pop hooks that sought to classify him and re-approaching his passion for tonal studies with a veteran’s wisdom, DeRosa has delivered what is being hailed as a return-to-form album by Aarktica fans. ‘I Am (The Ice)’ casts a frozen establishing shot for DeRosa’s guitar-work, peppering tense, processed strums against clouds of edgeless, warm tones. Its effect, both unnerving and calming, sums up the widescreen vibe of In Sea as a whole, stepping into deep layers of guitar structures that circle or swell in subtle patterns (‘Instill’, the title track). Better yet, DeRosa has incorporated tricks learned from his post-No Solace In Sleep shoegaze efforts, bringing bittersweet riffs to ‘Onward!’’s encroaching heaviness and welcome, moody vocals to album-highlight ‘Hollow Earth Theory’. While these restrained pop flourishes are sporadic and spread-out (only two cuts feature vocals), their post-punk feel provide enough pulse to jolt In Sea from its still-life crawl.
While Aarktica has proven capable of competing with any shoegaze band that can hear in stereo, DeRosa’s battle to understand sound has transformed his condition – which, in this art, should’ve been considered a handicap – into an advantage. Finding emotional details in minimal arrangements, In Sea is a homecoming for ambient-drone enthusiasts… a group that no doubt finds DeRosa at the front of the pack.
~ The Skeleton Crew Quarterly

There are definite similarities between In Sea and the Vlor album which I reviewed here a week or two back. Similarities and some very pronounced differences, to a point where I feel almost obliged to make a comparison between both albums; they did after all arrive in the same package,  and while both CDs share inspirations and bookmarkings, the contrasting moods and structures differ greatly. If  Six Winged is the sound of a warm summer evening turning ever stranger as dusk falls, In Sea has a colder, more clinical feel to much of its twelve tracks and along with the performers already sub-zero nomenclature, the reverse sleeve of Aarktica’s album shows a wintry and agitated coastal landscape, the notion of the sea as a desert expressed in monochromatic clarity.
In Sea is, for the most part, instrumental. Of its twelve tracks only two, “Hollow Earth Theory” and “Am I Demon?” contain a vocal. The other ten pieces, perhaps exemplified by the title track, are ambient collisions of repetitive instrumentation and combined echoes and harmonics. Aarktica are near-experts at creating soundscapes of this kind, and too experienced to lose either focus or velocity. So the pieces aren’t overlong, Aarktica appreciating that where this type of instrumental post-rock is concerned, less is often more in terms of track length. And no-one can accuse Jon De Rosa, the only credited member of Aarktica, of relying too heavily on a formulaic approach to his music. The coldly austere drift of “A Plague Of Frost” has little in common with the tightly enmeshed guitar histrionics of the album title track, and less again with the rhythmically verging on garage rock pulses of ‘Young Light’. Aarktica deftly avoid repeating themselves throughout.
And the two vocal tracks are as apposite as Jon De Rosa can attempt. “Am I Demon”, a cover of a Glenn Danzig song from 1988, is a purposefully mournful evocation of 21 years of experimentalism, given here a noticeably sub Joy Division-ish treatment to where  I thought it only too easy to envisage Ian Curtis barking out the lyric. De Rosa’s own composition “Hollow Earth Theory” is the album highlight though, tuneful and agreeably uptempo and with an incessant back-effect guitar part running under the vocal, it had me wondering why if Aarktica has more actual songs of similar quality, then don’t we ever get to hear them? Doubtlessly a matter for the follow-up to In Sea, which anyone hearing the fourth track on this release might anticipate with some degree of interest.
~ Jon Gordon, Delusions of Adequacy

Why isn’t Jon DeRosa’s work as Aarktica mentioned in the same breath as Stars of the Lid or Eluvium when discussing ambient/drone music? Ever since losing hearing in his right ear in 1999, DeRosa has succeeded in using the drifting guitar tones of Aarktica to conjure up the underwater experience that hearing music has become for him. While the band has gone in many directions and encompassed many collaborators, it has remained consistent throughout what has been a focus on beautiful, disorienting sound. In Sea sees DeRosa working solo with just guitar and Bilhorn Telescopic Pump Organ and returning largely to the wordless ambience of 2000’s No Solace in Sleep with stunning results.
Here DeRosa only sings twice, on the lovely “Hollow Earth Theory” and the calm cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon?” that closes the album; the rest of the time, the listener is set adrift in seemingly endless fields and sheets of gentle sound. Despite the small selection of instruments and techniques DeRosa draws on, he proves adept at conveying a wide range of emotions, from the optimism of “Young Light” to the distorted regret of “When We’re Ghosts” to the calm of “LYMZ”.
To really get the subtlety and appeal of Aarktica’s music, you have to dive into In Sea as a whole. In a genre where so much of the music is disposable-but-pleasant wallpaper, DeRosa deserves to stand with the aforementioned, more well-known bands. That an album of echoing, overlapping guitar tones and peaceful organ drones can take you on as compelling a journey as Aarktica does here is something to be cherished. The result is so impressive it’s tempting to say that DeRosa probably won’t top In Sea and the way it perfectly encapsulates what’s great about his music. Even if he never does, this album is the kind of pinnacle to be proud of.
~ Ian Mathers, PopMatters

Rarely has a musical project been as aptly named or titled as Aarktica’s sixth full-length release – the sounds that emerge from In Sea (and yes, the Terry Riley pun is entirely intentional) are long, spacious things extending as far as the stereo field of vision will go, windswept ice floe or endless ocean, with a single figure in the middle distance the only man in view. Jon DeRosa is that man, responsible for every drawn-out note on display, and Aarktica is his vehicle for broadcasting his isolation to the world. Ten years ago, he suffered near-total hearing loss in his right ear, and since then, he’s been translating the attendant effects to tape, moments of clarity interwoven with sounds both muffled and muzzled, aural ghosts drifting through the blurred soundscape, the air full of circumambient tones for the painfully alone. But an album of depressive drones, fortunately, this is not – while the longest tracks, “A Plague of Frost (In the Guise of Diamonds)” and “Corpse Reviver No. 2,” are nearly unbearable in their quiet, sustained intensity, DeRosa has learned to let select slivers of sunlight in when the mood strikes. In fact, large chunks of In Sea, lacking in forward motion as they are, could even be considered pretty as they rise and fall and bob up and down on waves of phase. There’s even a couple of honest-to-godlessness songs here, which brightens things up considerably. That one of them is a cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon?,” and DeRosa manages to imbue that rather silly piece of mock-metallic morbidity with a certain non-parodic gravitas, means the whole enterprise ends on a curiously hopeful note, a sense of renewed direction that makes it worth catching his drift.

The frosty electronica lounge and ambient music of Aarktica never meant that much to me and 'In Sea' is hardly going to overturn this prejudice. Yet Jon DeRosa, or Aarktica, seems to have come to terms with the effects caused by the neural disease which lead to his near deafness. Deafness being the very last one in line of musicians' aspirations, on 'In Sea' DeRosa at least shows how to cope with the handicap.
With climate change rearing its ugly head, 'In Sea' gains topical importance and, on top, produces those sounds echoing beforehand the melting and the collapse of icebergs. Marine drone music exemplifies the wrongs and rights of how we tend to treat our great ocean waters. In correspondence, Aarktica deals with this subject in full fluent knowledge. Electronic beats melt, drift off and drift away whilst the sounds lead to great mind-cinema listening.
Imagine the sound of how you would rotate a finger around the rim of a glass. That eerie sound effect aptly captures the unknown depths of 'In Sea'. The ringing little echoes build the very essence of this album. Featured in prominent fashion are the cycles of bellowing new age electronics. Much more of a pamphlet than an actual album, 'In Sea' as a matter of fact finds the right balance between a Big Country type of pathos and Boards of Canada nothingness.
~ Maarten Schiethart, Pennyblack Music

Shoegaze ambient: Jon DeRosa offers vocals (on 3 and 12 only), guitar, bass, and pump organ on these highly relaxing, ambient tracks. My picks are less drone and gaze and offer slightly more structure, but each of these has merit and will suit more than few of our shows. Although he’s lost hearing in one ear, DeRosa makes lemonade out of lemons, or peace out of chaos.

The background story of Aarktica is an impressive one, basically the project is centred around John DeRosa; who many years ago lost his hearing in one ear, and as he got used to it, he had to develop a new way of listening to music. Aarktica was formed around this time. Aarktica is gentle music with layers of emotional depth and they have a very very impressive list of influences. The list includes Christian Death, Lungfish, Danzig, Samhain… who all use intense emotion at the core of their work and that is the taken influence, rather than being some cod sound alike. This is their sixth release.
I Am (the Ice) opens with what I call ambience of the Eno school, at first I thought Godspeedyoublackemporer but there is not that sense of pomp (by no means an insult). Aarktica’s build ups are used over a long subtle period and the peak is not too far removed from the beginning of tracks. LYMZ carries through with a church organ holy ambience, this combines with drones. Hollow Earth Theory introduces song and vocals which if anything throw the first solid comparison; Seam . DeRosa vocal technique is delicate like Soo Young Park of Seam or Neil Young, not weak just gentle and it works well with Aarktica’s ambience and acoustics. These are all elements this track combines across the album. I can imagine it being impressive if they ever power up their sound, although that isn’t necessarily needed.
A Plague of Frost allows a longer track length to show several shifts in ambience. This is a moody older sense of ambience and somehow weaving that ambient technique into the tracks where DeRosa sings song makes the album gel together very well. It is not patchy, In Sea flows smoothly. Overall this is a strong album, highlighting exceptional talent with a complete lack of pretence; the myspace page has pictures of the band members hanging with Danzig. It is refreshing to be able to put a face to the music. The Danzig cover Am I Demon is awesome; there are no flies here, the music stands tall.
~ Zenon Gradkowski, Heathen Harvest

Byline: Now, where am I going to put this in my best of 2009 list?
Listening to music that sounds like it was recorded underwater is an auditory indulgence. I am a sucker for music that sounds like it is coming in from next door or seeping up from the basement. There is a strange sense of everything being far away and non-centered, like when you are coming out from anesthesia. While I can enjoy this strange experience from time to time through headphones, I couldn't imagine this being my only auditory connection with the world. For Jon DeRosa, the man behind Aarktica, this is a 24-7 experience. Nerve damage left him completely deaf in his right ear. Seems like a career ending injury, right? Like an ACL tear in basketball. In DeRosa's case, he translated the warped, distant sounds of hearing everything like he was underwater into a quietly epic, droning masterpiece of layered guitar sounds. DeRosa's drones, like a less abstract Eluvium, are centered around looped chords and textured guitar effects that build into a quiet crescendo. In the drone landscape, DeRosa's output is unique. DeRosa builds his icy soundscapes around an almost pop-like song structure, eschewing the temptation to wander aimlessly across a frozen tundra of half-baked musical ideas. This blending of the familiar and unchartable gives way to a bottemless cavern of eerie guitar effects and buzzing drones that float freely beneath the surface. What is amazing about In Sea, (I don't think I have mentioned what an awesome title that is) is that one expects a aural representation of DeRosa's braille like interpretation of sound. Instead the fidelity is the exact opposite of underwater music, it is clean, precise, and of course more than just a little fractured and woozy. I was already considering this one of the best post-rock/guitar drone albums of the year before a quick look at the back story cemented it. Well worth dropping everything and listening to it.
~ Tome to the Weather Machine

Aarktica is the one man band consisting of Jon DeRosa...who, over the past few years, has developed a small but incredibly devoted cult following. In Sea is DeRosa's sixth full-length release. Once again, it's a total keeper. The album features trance-like atmospheric pieces and subdued pensive soft pop tracks...each flowing into the other like ocean currents. Although the overall sound is markedly different, the tone here is strangely reminiscent of Brian Eno's Another Green World. Far too obtuse and cerebral for the casual listener, In Sea is an album that will continue to solidify Jon's superior standing among other artists and esoteric music fans around the world. Subtle, distant, haunting, and mesmerizing tracks include "I Am (The Ice)," "LYMZ," "In Sea," "Instill," and a truly peculiar cover of Danzig's "Am I Demon?" TOP PICK.
~ Babysue

the most suprising thing about this record is not the cover of danzig’s (video below) am i demon? it’s not the fact that the fella who made the bugger lost the hearing in his right ear. nope. the shock-o-rama here is that with that name, the song titles and the now standard for fans of: (gy!be, labradford, eluvium) it’s not only an incredibly pretty fifty minutes, but it’s a rather warm inviting melodic one too. it’s all very kranky-esque in it’s mixture of the deconstructed and reconstructed organic sounds of strings and keys. if i had to draw parallels, and i’m lazy so i must, it’d be the drawn out lynchisms of stars of the lid or the beautiful fractured slo-pop of windy & carl (who frankly never get the plaudits they deserve). yeah like i said this’d be the time i’d usually drag out all my snowy, blizzardy, glacial chilly wintry metaphors. but no. not today fuckers. this is more like sinking into the warm mediterranean sea, letting the water carry you, feeling the sun on yr face, oozing through closed eyelids, licking lapping gently on yr brain. no doubt everybody including derosa himself would tell me to shut my cakehole, that this shit is all epic blinding white and outerspace cold. well to that i’ll say whatevah. hint’s of joy divisions closer, terry riley, jangle pop on downers (i.e. low). it’s physical (my woofer is vibrating things across the desk as i listen). it’s emotional (not hysterical as some of this kindofthing tends to be). it goes mmmmm. as in the onomatopoeic noise to denote a pleasurable taste experience; as in the om like transcendental vibration that runs through the entire album. exceptional.
~ cows are just food

A splendid new album by Aarktica. Jon DeRosa steps away from electronics to come back to his early approach: rich and troubled arrangements of floating guitars. A marine-themed album with – paradoxically – earthy and ochre tones. Only two tracks are sung (including one unrecognizable Danzig cover); the rest consists in instrumentals that are at times optimistic, but mostly dreamy. Congratulations.
~ François Couture, Monsieur Delire

We have good news from old friends at Silber Records. They have found one of the very few bands from New York who can do something other than play very, quickly, very loudly, very sulkily and very badly. This wonderously rare band is called Aarktica and their latest thoughtful, top drawer, cinematic shoegazing has been lovingly spooned into the grooves of a long playing record called "In The Sea". We're particulary taken with their cover of the old Danzig track, "Am I Demon?", something that you could and maybe should hear on their myshite page.
~ Unpeeled

Jon DeRosa returns with the sixth full length release of his Aarktica project, a "sea"quel of sorts to his No Solace In Sleep (2000) debut. The title is also a reverential pun on Terry Riley’s seminal In C, as well as a description of his auditory hallucinations resulting from the near-total hearing loss in his right ear caused by nerve damage that left him experiencing sound as if underwater, or "in sea." As with those previous recordings, DeRosa relies primarily on repetitive, contemplative minimalist drones, thus enabling him to replicate the sonic textures of those "auditory hallucinations." Fans of sonic guitarscape manipulators Stars of The Lid, Windy & Carl, Landing, Eno, Azusa Plane, et. al. will identify with DeRosa’s glacial, atmospheric creations, which ebb and flow in waves of textural dissonance.
The release is also a nod in the direction of DeRosa’s teachers, LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela (memorialized in the floating mood enhancer, ‘LYMZ’ that envelops the listener in a warm sonic bath), who taught him composition and Indian classical vocal music, as well as instilled in him the ability to "hear without ears by relying on the physical vibrations of his instrument and vocal chords." ‘Hollow Earth Theory’ is one of only a few tracks with a more traditional song structure, albeit one with cascading and backward guitar loops and a soothing vocal that deserves a wider audience – someone needs to get this on Art Garfunkle’s next solo album. And ‘A Plague of Frost (In the Guise of Diamonds)’ is as visual as its title suggests, conjuring images of glacial icebergs flowing across the frosted Arctic Circle or the heavenward ascension of morning dew evaporating in the morning sun.
Too often maligned as elevator Muzak or aural wallpaper, DeRosa’s dip into the snorecore gene pool, like his forebears, illustrates the innumerable nuances one can coax out of an electric guitar, turning the potential six-stringed implement of destruction into a magic wand summoning deep-seated emotions like serenity, weightlessness and contemplative navel gazing within the listener. The gamut of emotions In Sea conjures, be it a tear in the eye or a smile on the lips, will vary greatly by the listener’s current state of mind and emotional integrity. However, it’s the ability to reach into the inner ear and depth of the soul and speak to us on a primordial level that is In Sea’s greatest asset.
Jason DiEmilio of the aforementioned Azusa Plane committed suicide three years ago (on the very day I write this), partially due to his frustration over his inability to hear the music he was composing. While DeRosa may suffer from a similar affliction and few albums have brought me to such similar depths of despair, we can rejoice that he has chosen to exorcise his inner demons through that music. Perhaps that’s why he tongue-in-cheekily chose to end this fascinating journey with a mournfully morose cover of Glenn Danzig’s ‘Am I Demon?’
~ Jeff Penczak, Terrascope

Jon DeRosa’s Aarktica project covers ground where many have trod before, namely the use of guitar, loops, feedback, distortion and tape manipulation to make musical atmospheres and mood pieces. As the name suggests, the dominant aura is one of cold, oceanic isolation. But there is more to In Sea than an hour of Arctic ambience.
DeRosa lost almost all hearing in his right ear ten years ago, so the way he perceives sound is different to most of us. What is obviously a severe handicap for a musician, he has used to create sound slightly differently. Instead of stereo separation, he concentrates on depth and distance. It’s the aural equivalent of watching a movie without left-right panning but in 3D. A good example of this is the opener “I Am (The Ice)” where a guitar figure of graceful serenity dominates the foreground while the background is a tumult of crackle, feedback and distortion.
Some tracks on the album set moods, but don’t really develop anything with it. The best are more adventurous or, paradoxically, more traditionally structured. The deep, submerged drone of “A Plague of Frost” is almost free of rhythm or solidity and the title track, with its homophonic pun of a title, recreates the repetitive minimalism of Terry Riley.
On the other hand, some of the stand out pieces move away completely from the realms of the ambient. The gentle “Young Light” is upbeat, almost childlike. And the two actual songs are real gems. “Hollow Earth Theory” (as in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth) is beautiful and delicate pop. Even better is the closing cover of Danzig’s “I am Demon” which turns Satanic metal into an almost folk-ish appeal for peace and rest. It’s a stunning interpretation.
In Sea has a few generic patches, but enough passages of beauty and distinction to leave it standing head and shoulders above most in what is becoming an ever more crowded field.
~ Music Musings and Miscellany

While the name may sound like a form of metal either epic or gothic, the music could not be further removed. The brainchild of Jon DeRosa, Aarktica was formed after nerve damage made him deaf in one ear over a decade ago. The result was the haunting soundscapes of No Solace In Sleep, which was followed by more material that led to elements of shoegaze and folk. But here on In Sea, DeRosa returns to the soundscapes of his début.
The album is haunting in a way that's both bleak and beautiful. The drones of 'I Am (The Ice)' and 'A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds)' aren't so much to be listened to, but more to be felt. They vibrate the chest but despite their monikers leave you warmed. Where some drone music can be insufferably dull, there's something gripping about this record, a hard to describe something that ensnares you as much as it immerses you as each note blends into the next. 'Onward!' and 'Young Light' offer a more upbeat lesson in soundscaping, while vocals arrive on the folksy 'Hollow Earth Theory' and the closing cover of Danzig's 'Am I Demon?'.
Far from lively, just because In Sea won't move you physically doesn't mean it won't move you. We've used haunting already in this review, but there's no more apt word to describe an album which says so much without saying much at all. With nothing used but guitar and organ, this is nothing short of mesmerising beauty.
~ Phill May, Rock Midgets

Although 'In Sea' is the sixth album by Jon DeRosa, I believe its the first time I hear this name. In 1999 he became deaf at the right ear and started to re-think what he was doing. He took classes by LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela to learn how to hear without using your ears and started the Aarktica project. The title 'In Sea' is of course a nod to Terry Riley's 'In C' and is mostly an album of drones. The guitar takes the lead here, wether its played with an e-bow, with a cello bow, plucked or chords: everything feeds to delay and reverb machines to create that much needed endless sustain on the sounds in order to apply for that drone tag. On a few occasions DeRosa sings, which is nice, since it breaks the album a bit. Necessary I'd say to break up the album a bit, since after a while, a repeat action leaps in, and one could think: yeah, well, I heard this bit already in a slightly different form. Either De Rosa should think about doing longer tracks or a bit more variation, or simply make a shorter album.
~ Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

In Sea is Jon DeRosa’s sixth-full length release as Aarktica. Although I haven’t been familiar with his previous output, it’s easy to hear the maturity of his sound after only a few tunes. Recommended if you like: Labradford, Windy & Carl, Ennio Morricone, Eluvium, Mogwai, Seefeel, Earth, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Spacemen 3, and in need of dreamy and suicidal music.
~ Undomondo

For nearly ten years, Jon DeRosa has been producing music with the goal of capturing the sounds that exist inside his head. That may be the goal for all musicians, but in DeRosa’s case, there’s a bit more to it than that. You see, DeRosa is deaf in one ear and as a result, has had to live with aural distortions and hallucinations (not to mention the effects of painkillers)—all of which have served as inspiration for his music.
Originally, his attempts consisted of drone-oriented ambient recordings such as 2000’s No Solace In Sleep. Subsequent albums—e.g., 2003’s Pure Tone Audiometry, 2005’s Bleeding Light—saw DeRosa eschewing his earlier, pure ambient approach for a more structured, song-oriented sound.
Those later recordings contained memorable moments, but I’ve always found Aarktica’s music most affecting and involving when DeRosa is truly immersed in his dronework, however ominous and unsettling it might be. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I like In Sea so much, as Aarktica’s latest finds DeRosa returning to the noisier drones and atmospherics that first typified Aarktica.
Well… almost.
Don’t get me wrong: In Sea ranks up there with No Solace In Sleep when it comes to atmospherics, but they’re cleaner and more polished this time. The result, I’m sure, of both recording in a real, honest-to-God studio (by contrast, No Solace In Sleep was recorded in a dorm room on a dying 4-track) and DeRosa’s decade of experience coaxing all manner of sounds from his gear.
This is best seen in the album’s opening track, “I Am (The Ice)”, where DeRosa sets off slowly revolving tundra drones while a band of sparkling, crystalline guitar notes arcs high overhead. It’s a gorgeous and rather affecting piece that evokes an Arctic sunrise as much as the most glorious moments of Flying Saucer Attack’s career. Later, on the title track, DeRosa picks out a gentle guitar melody then sets it adrift amidst a sea of guitar effects and noise swells—meanwhile, the reverbed sounds of his hands sliding along the guitar strings adds a human feel to the otherwise otherworldly music. And finally, on “When We’re Ghosts”, DeRosa wraps the listener in tight guitar loops before lashing out with violent, ragged bursts of noise, which results in the album’s most gripping moments.
But even though In Sea is a return to Aarktica’s roots, there are some surprises, most notably in the vocals. DeRosa’s voice has always been Aarktica’s weakest element for me: his music is strongest when he steps back and lets his atmospherics do the singing. But DeRosa’s voice appears on two of In Sea‘s tracks, and they turn out to be two of the album’s finest moments.
The first is “Hollow Earth Theory”, which gets my vote for DeRosa’s best vocal performance to date: here he sings “We will wait and we will see/If it’s right to put our faith all/In this hollow earth theory” over building layers of guitar. It’s a simple enough approach, and yet the song’s longing-filled lyrics and surging melodies combine to have quite an emotional effect.
The second is a cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon”. At first, it seems like a joke—I think I did a double take when I read the press release—but as DeRosa distantly sings “Am I beast or am I human/Am I just like you?/Power seething, really reeling, reaching out for you/Am I demon? Need to know” while surrounded by murky, ominous tones and somber guitar lines, he achieves a sense of foreboding that far outshines Danzig’s original version.
T.S. Eliot’s famous quote—“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”—strikes me as an appropriate description of In Sea. After ten year of sonic exploration, In Sea is a return to where DeRosa began, the result being an album that represents a deeper exploration and knowledge of his familiar sounds. As such, it’s probably replaced No Solace In Sleep as my favorite Aarktica recording—no longer can I say “I liked their earlier stuff better” in good conscience—and I hope it sets the stage for Aarktica’s next ten years.
~ Jason Morehead, Opus

Aarktika is a minimal musical project by Brooklyn’s Jon DeRosa, who has been joined by a fleet of musicians from time to time. The project is over a decade in the making, having started life on a 4-track in the dorms of New York University, and album number two has just been released. The subtleties of the music are put as gently in motion as a paintbrush to canvas. When notes build up and ring out, as gradually and carefully as they do in songs like Young Light, the swell of music is almost palpable. This is delicately crafted ambient music. Sparseness is a key to the way songs rise and float. DeRosa conceives his songs in mono, since he has hearing in only one ear, which means he is influenced by ‘audio distortions, aural hallucinations and a reliance on painkillers’. This is guitar based emotional post-rock with reliance on riffs that gain gravity by winding around repetitively and hypnotically like pretty but stuck thoughts. Interesting-to-note influences include: Hood, The Chameleons, and Low; all of which can be detected either in mood or style. There is also a Sarah Records feel to the vocals and indie pop of Seventy Jane, which has crisp 80s keyboards and stunningly beautiful chorus pedal guitar. In Sea couldn’t be a more apt name for Aarktica’s new release, there’s a holy power and sense of rise and fall with the music. The album In Sea is out now on Silber Records, and the back catalogue is available via iTunes.
~ God is in the TV

The breadth of sound that can be encompassed by the ‘drone’ moniker is rather large. Consider sounds ranging from Earth and Brian Eno (at times) to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. Timbres range from sweet to rich and full, to harsh and indigestible. It is the all encompassing nature of drone that makes it a fickle friend in the world of music. It is easy for bands/performers to fall prey to what I would like to call sitting-in-a-bedroom-fiddling-around-with-a-guitar-and-some-effects-and-maybe-a-keyboard-while-bored-one-night syndrome. By this, I mean that sometimes drone albums end up sounding like they were recorded in one night while someone was playing around with his new effects pedal and thought he had made something cool. I understand the desire to create music that is not reliant upon melody, time signature, pacing, or any other traditional constructs, but I am a firm believer that all good music has a purpose. I find this purpose to be lost in some lackluster drone recordings that are merely experiments of sound and nothing more. While Aarktica does not fall wholly into this category, there are elements that seem not as refined as others. However, In Sea has many positives that must be praised first.
Opener “I Am (The Ice)” is a wonderful mix of strumming guitar post-rock with thick dark drones rounding out the sound. The song has movement, but it definitely sets the tone for the rest of the album. The listener gets a sense that this album is going to be something along the lines of drone or ambient, but there is the possibility for something more, as exhibited by the relatively vibrant guitar line amidst the drone.
“Hollow Earth Theory” is a surprising song following the opener, a rather cut and dry drone falling pray to the ‘syndrome’ piece “Lymz.” Fairly safe chord progressions played on the guitar introduce a vocal line that is melodic and rather pleasant. Reversed guitar tones add a reminder that this isn’t a pop album, but overall the sound is mellow and straightforward. In the context of the rest of the album ,this song, while pleasant, really sticks out in a way that is not really good or bad, it is just there.
“A Plague of Frost (In The Guise of Diamonds)” has perhaps the opposite sound to the 'syndrome' mentioned above. This droning piece has a definite beginning and end – the first steps to establishing purpose. The timbres are always morphing, yet layers add movement and life to the ongoing drone of the song. Waxing and waning complexity solidify a more purposeful intention beyond just playing some cool sounds on the guitar. The sound is overall robust yet minimal.
The abrupt ending of many of these songs betrays some elements of the ‘syndrome’ mentioned above. After an obvious effort has been put in to making a song full of rich layers and timbres, it would be wise to finish with matching effort to finalize and complete that idea. All too often, a song ends with what is clearly just a decision to stop playing as a quick fade completes the track. Three songs in a row, “Onward,” “Young Light,” and “Autumnal,” among others, end in this way, and it leaves an unfinished emptiness to the album. Even the slightest resolution of idea or even more drawn out, meaningful fade would add just enough polish to solidify In Sea as a whole.
Aarktica walks a fine line on In Sea, skirting close to the realm of inconsequential fiddling, yet for the most part, each song accomplishes some sort of goal and justifies its existence. Some tracks on the album shine while others leave me questioning their reason for being included in the lineup. However, In Sea has some excellent multi-layered and multi-textured songs that more than make up for its minor shortcomings and complete a well rounded and continually evolving album.
~ Greg Norte, The Silent Ballet

This is the solo project of Jon DeRosa and is new to the pages of Gothic Paradise.  This album is released on Silber Records and features a dozen ambient, mostly instrumental tracks. It's a great introduction for me and probably for many listeners and readers on Gothic Paradise, though his influences range through many of the legendary gothic bands from Joy Division to Lycia.
The album starts out with building ambient-structured shoegazer guitar on "I Am (The Ice)" which builds and flows right into "LYMZ", another dreamy ambient piece that slowly moves along and fades away. That brings us to the highlight of the album "Hollow Earth Theory". This melancholy piece features great brooding guitar and other ethereal elements which provide the backdrop for the somber vocals. The music is much the same style of dreamy, subtle shoegazer ambient, but the vocals give it a new depth and meaning, making it that much more interesting and enjoyable. Though the music on much of the album is as dreamy or captivating, the combination of all of these elements and the vocals help to bring it around as a highlight on this album.
As we move on through the remaining tracks the music ebbs and flows, sometimes slow and haunting, but always dreamy. The cold moods of "A Plague of Frost" become lifelike through the ambient textures, and the title tracks brings out more of the ethereal shoegaze guitar sounds that are hauntingly beautiful. This builds up even more on "Onward!", much in the style of the previously mentioned vocal track "Hollow Earth Theory", but it remains ambient and dreamy, leaving the listener to use their own imagination rather than vocals. "Young Light" builds even more and with the uptempo guitar rhythms I kept expecting to hear vocals, but once again the instruments bring their own life to this piece, more subtly on "Autumnal" and down through the haunting soundscapes of "Corpse Reviver No. 2". A bit of ambient noise sort of comes out of nowhere on "Instill", but gradually fades into the dreamy piece "When We're Ghosts". This latter piece is another favorite instrumental track where the various guitars build layer upon layer into a sort of aural assault and setting the stage for the finale to the album. This final piece is the cover of Danzig's piece "Am I Demon?" which is the only other vocal selection on the disc. As mentioned this is a perfect finale to this album with it's melancholy tones and dreamy ambient soundscapes.
I think this is a great album for fans of the softer ambient styles, for those that enjoy instrumentals as much as vocal pieces as well as some small experimental elements. Go out and grab it and enjoy it on those gray, rainy days.
~ Gothic Paradise

Highly recommending Aarktica to fans of Stars of the Lid would be the quickest route to success for both potential listeners and the band alike. In Sea is (primarily) a drone record whose production is as good (if not better) than its compositions, and in this style, that’s as important as anything.
In Sea’s tones are rich and resound with pleasant reverberation. The frequencies make for the intended blissful drift into melancholic happiness.
Now, if we’re actually comparing Aarktica and Stars of the Lid, Aarktica is less of an enveloping drone that is a constant bittersweet flow, instead relying more remarkably on the decaying tones of reverberant notes, most notably of a piano.
Perhaps a more apt comparison is to Stars of the Lid’s side project The Dead Texan, which comes to mind mostly because of the couple tracks on In Sea that are actual songs with veritable singing. Compared to The Dead Texan, however, the singing isn’t something you wished would have been left off the record. With that said, it isn’t the best element of In Sea; that it mixes the album up successfully or detracts from its main motif are debatable. The last track is worth mentioning here, being a cover of Danzig’s "Am I Demon?" which, although we’ve never heard the original, is interesting enough that we’d want to, and are sure it sounds pretty different.
Good drone records don’t warrant lots of analysis, as their success lies on a relatively few elements to success. Aarktica is a highly successful drone record, being one actually played by its members, with excellent compositions, and more importantly, excellent sound.
~ Roberto Martinelli, Maelstrom

Jon DeRosa got some fame through his involvement in Dead Leaves Rising. When setting up his solo-project Aarktica in the late 90s he found an outlet for his own musical ideas. He now strikes back with a 6th full length album under the Aarktica moniker. DeRosa invites us to visit a kind of astral soundscape style composed with guitar, bass, pump organ and vocals. The guitar was used more as an effect than a real instrument making the particular and ambient sound of his album. It’s quite fascinating to hear the way his songs move from a rather quiet and prosper style (cf. “I Am (The Ice)”, “Lymz”) to darker territories (cf. “A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds)”. Guitar and ambient music isn’t innovative at all, but musicians like Jon DeRosa sound more talented with this kind of experiment. We definitely can speak about experimentation, but the way it has been conceived and worked out results in a quite coherent and easy listening experience. A few vocals lines are injecting an extra layer to the songs. Among the track list, I have to recommend “Young Light” and the ultra quiet sounding “Am I Demon?” as the most noticeable pieces. “Young Light” left me rather perplexed for the kind of ‘U2 goes ambient’-style. “Am I Demon?” is a cover version of a Danzig-song where the original song seems to have been considerably transposed into the Aarktica style. “In Sea” is a noticeable release for the lovers of soundscapes and other experimental-ambient stuff.
~ Side-Line

Twelve songs make up the sixth album by NYC artist, Jon DeRosa, which, with its title already winking in the direction of Terry Riley’s own fantastic In C, stokes a similar furnace of cyclical melodies in terrain otherwise not so far removed from the tundras previously explored by Labradford and Mogwai. Whilst a little moodiness creeps in from time to time, most of these songs remain gently atmospheric, with drifts of melancholy fleshing out the proceedings accordingly. Using only guitars and a Bilhorn Telescopic Pump Organ, DeRosa weaves beautiful textural swells together with the kind of dimly-lit corners reserved for both contemplation and bittersweet pontifications. Occasionally, vocals lend a rather more traditional or accessible edge to these pieces, such as on the neatly titled ‘Hollow Earth Theory’, whilst the final cut, ‘Am I Demon?’ is a cover of a Danzig song so tempered it sounds more like something The Chameleons would’ve written. But, overall, the plaintive furrows express a sense of yearning for both times lost and better things to come (due, I’m sure, to DeRosa’s having lost his hearing in one ear a number of years ago), plus display a versatility often missing in such music.
All told, In Sea is a fine and solid enough entry in the post-rock canon, whether it desires to be or not, although I can’t help but ultimately feel this approach to songwriting usually makes it sound old and weary before its time.
~ Richard Johnson, Adverse Effect

I had no clue how prolific Jon DeRosa is before falling for In Sea, but in addition to his ambient project for the under-appreciated Silber Records, he also dabbles in chamber pop, acoustic folk and country in Flare, Dead Leaves Rising and Pale Horse and Rider respectively. And to top it off, he’s been recording as Aarktica for over a decade now. Slept on him in the past, but definitely made a 2010 resolution to do so no longer.
~ Ear to the Sound

What if you made a classic record and no-one heard it? What if you made a bunch of them? At least Jon DeRosa's 2000 debut as Aarktica, the very fine indeed No Solace in Sleep, was relatively acclaimed. That album is certainly striking, given that DeRosa was struggling to cope with the "underwater" experience and auditory hallucinations brought on by the permanent, nerve damage-inflicted loss of hearing in his right ear. Even better was his 2002 contribution to Darla Records' Bliss Out series, ...Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life and Be Happy Anyway. Moving away from the glacial, droning guitar ambience that's either DeRosa's specialty or cross to bear, that album saw him embracing electronics and song structure to the same ends as his more expressly ambient albums.
Aarktica's music has ploughed the fertile grounds between those two poles ever since, but 2009's In Sea (yes, a pun on Terry Riley's seminal In C; DeRosa also names a track after his teachers LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela while we're playing inside baseball) marks the starkest Aarktica LP since No Solace in Sleep, and maybe the best one he's ever done.
This time it's just DeRosa, some guitars, something called a Bilhorn Telescopic Pump Organ, and a lot of time and space. It's amazing what he can conjure up with such basic ingredients: "Young Light" is as surgingly optimistic as "Corpse Reviver No. 2" is quietly mournful as "When We're Ghosts" is contorted with remorse as "I Am (The Ice)" is majestically remote, and so on. The two vocal tracks here should be the easiest to parse, but the closing cover of Danzig's "Am I Demon?" transmutes a song that was, frankly, kind of silly into something genuinely sobering in its self-examination, and the lovely "Hollow Earth Theory" makes a narrative out of retreat, both sonic (those unwinding, reversed guitar lines) and lyrically (it's almost entirely about withholding judgment). Both songs are welcome additions, but they function almost as signposts sticking out of the wintry bulk of In Sea, a little something to help you get your bearings.
For the most part, you're instead confronted with marvels like the eight minutes of "A Plague of Frost (In the Guise of Diamonds)," DeRosa's best approximation of what it's like to be inside of his head. That proves to be a disorienting but strangely peaceful place, although unlike DeRosa the listener always has the option of turning In Sea off. As good as the graceful arc of this album's gentler tracks are, it's a good thing that DeRosa varies things more than he has in the past, with the shorter, punchier "Onward!" and "Young Light" marking out territory somewhere between the brighter sides of Eluvium and the Durutti Column. The result is both a kind of clearinghouse of what DeRosa can do and a masterclass in why he's great. Now people just need to start paying attention.
~ Ian Mathers, Resident Advisor

This release from 2009 features 56 minutes of guitar ambience.
Aarktica is Jon DeRosa on guitar, bass, pump organ, and vocals.
A variety of guitar impressions are used to achieve a gentle ambience. Some of these sounds stand alone with minimal embellishment, while others are conjunctive, meshing together to form layered auralscapes.
Delicate guitar stylings are created in which the chords cascade over each other in a waterfall of softly glistening sound, the notes losing their individuality and forming a fluid presence.
Sustained guitar is relegated to form an infinite expanse of somber vapor. Or becomes processed until the strings lose their stringed identity and flow like a sluggish fluid. These evocations bend and sway to generate immobilized movement. Often, mellow chords unfurl to form secondary layers that lend gentle passion to the flow.
Sometimes the guitar achieves an intensity that is jarring but remains languid.
The soft resonance of a pump organ is manipulated so tenuously that its issue oozes forth in limitless sighs. This type of mellifluous pulsation serves as a frequent environment through which guitar stylings slither.
In two instances, a guitar is strummed in a conventional manner, releasing vibrant chords that pull at the heart in tandem with melancholic crooning.
In another track, a bass supplies the source for similar (but low) resonance.
These pieces all exhibit a rarefied harmonic substantiality as they describe sparsely melodic compositions. Pensive moments are captured and transformed into delicate snippets of sound which effectively pass along the original contemplative sentiment to the listener.
~ Sonic Curiosities

a.k.a. Brooklyn's Jon DeRosa with his 6th release--dreamy atmospheric layers of ambient/drone guitar loops seeking hidden realities & inner sanctums. Dark glacial symphonies, lush shimmering soundwaves, and floating shards of minimalist distortion join for a subtle meditative immersion. Combines elements of Eno, Terry Riley, Hood, Robin Guthrie, Sunn O))), Guitar, Phillip Glass, Flying Saucer Attack.
~ Charlie Quaker, The Quaker Goes Deaf

Highly recommending Aarktica to fans of Stars of the Lid would be the quickest route to success for both potential listeners and the band alike. In Sea is (primarily) a drone record whose production is as good as (if not better than) its compositions, and in this style, that’s as important as anything.
In Sea’s tones are rich and resound with pleasant reverberation. The frequencies make for the intended blissful drift into melancholic happiness.
Now, if we’re actually comparing Aarktica and Stars of the Lid, Aarktica is less of an enveloping drone that is a constant bittersweet flow, instead relying more remarkably on the decaying tones of reverberant notes, most notably of a piano.
Perhaps a more apt comparison is to Stars of the Lid’s side project The Dead Texan, which comes to mind mostly because of the couple tracks on In Sea that are actual songs with veritable singing. Compared to The Dead Texan, however, the singing isn’t something you wished would have been left off the record. With that said, it isn’t the best element of In Sea; that it mixes the album up successfully or detracts from its main motif are debatable. The last track is worth mentioning here, being a cover of Danzig’s "Am I Demon?" which, although we’ve never heard the original, is interesting enough that we’d want to, and are sure it sounds pretty different.
Good drone records don’t warrant lots of analysis, as their success lies on a relatively few elements to success. Aarktica is a highly successful drone record, being one actually played by its members, with excellent compositions, and more importantly, excellent sound.
~ Roberto Martinelli, Maelstrom Zine

The key to appreciating Aarktica’s In Sea is aptly reflected in the front cover; you either get it or you don’t. A surrealistic picture of the sea mirrors that of its title, as does the music, giving the album a touch of transcendental appeal. If the first look gives the impression of an underwater experience, you aren’t too far off the mark. It is probably the first step to understanding and appreciating the music produced by Jon DeRosa’s auditory hallucinations, if only on a superficial level. In Sea is to an extent a continuation of his path to rediscovery and inner-peace, to calm the demons brought about by the turbulence earlier in his life.
To define “In Sea” as an album of contentious subjectivity is an extreme understatement. One who does not understand nor appreciate experimental drone music will surely cave in to his personal expectations and prejudices. The same goes for Aarktica’s previous works; a first time listener easily finds himself in a labyrinth of notes and chords, quite unable to make sense of the music that he expects himself to, that he is supposed to. A careless listener struggles to find the difference between the first few songs ‘I Am (The Ice)’, and ‘LYMZ’, crucially not the dissimilarity in notes, but rather the rhythm and purpose of the deep droning sounds of the guitar. It doesn’t help matters that lyrics, the normal route of understanding the meaning of a song and tuning into the frequency created by the artiste, are far and few between in the album. Only ‘Hollow Earth Theory’ and the replaying of Danzig’s ‘I Am Demon’ offers any semblance of words. Perhaps it is due to this reason that ‘Hollow Earth Theory’ may be the favourite song for most listeners, due to its almost perfect balance of lyrics and tune. Yet that would not be doing justice to the fantastic, thought-provoking work DeRosa and his group has done.
Perhaps the right approach to DeRosa and his music is to close your eyes, and attempt even in its impossibility to dissolve one’s head of all thoughts and emotions. “In Sea” is quite unlike any mainstream or pop culture music; it does not have a definitive thread for one to follow, so to construct a self-made, one would be unraveling the good work of Aarktica. Every song has its own definitive image that forms in one’s mind, a different colour in a different shape, each due its own share of appreciation. For it is not only the notes of the songs, but also the physical vibrations of the different chords, be it musical or vocal, which matter. For example, the album title song ‘In Sea’ paints the picture of a beach, the feeling of riding upon the moving sea, with the occasional gulls in the background. The repetition becomes more of an attempt to translate feeling into music, to bring across the sensation of moving with the waves. The music serenades, relaxes the mind, brings the listener to a different place… on one condition: only if you will let it. Likewise, DeRosa may have similar sentiments, reflected in his latest masterpiece.
~ Ho Jiaxuan, Magmug

This album of starkly beautiful (mostly) guitar tracks is perfect for the darkest time of the year before the sun starts it slow return. Jon DeRosa, the sole person behind this project, lost most of his hearing in his right ear in 1999. Like other musicians who have suffered this, he struggled to come to terms with it. The result was his début “No Solace In Sleep” in 2000. I am familiar with how tragic hearing loss in a musician can be; Jason Diemilio from the Azusa Plane (a friend to many of my friends) took his own life because of his hearing problems. This record marks the sixth release of Jon DeRosa's career; I am glad he has stayed with us because this is stunning music.
I was only familiar with DeRosa’s work because we both appeared on Silber Comps together. I listened to this album for a long time before I read the press release. I slowly formed my own opinion of the work. I knew it was about loss or mourning, but I did not know about what. When I read it was about Jon’s hearing loss suddenly the album became even more poignant and beautiful. The album title “In Sea” refers to the Terry Riley masterwork “In C.”
The album opens with “I am in Ice” sorrowful tones that move as slowly as snowdrifts across an artic landscape. Layers of guitar build on top of each other, one never overpowering the other. It almost sounds orchestral. It ends with washes of reverb. "LYMZ" is a tribute to his teachers La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, who helped him overcome his hearing loss by teaching him to develop new ways of hearing via sound vibrations in his instruments & vocal chords.
“Hollow Earth Theory” is the first track album that features Jon's vocals, which has a sweetly baritone sound. He sings of the Hollow Earth Theory. It is one of the most anthem-ic songs on the album. Soaring vocals and back masked guitars meld into one. It is the “hit” of the record. “A Plauge of Frost (In the Guise of Diamonds)” sends listeners back into the frigid landscape. The title track “In Sea” reminds me of the bedroom minimalism of the early Roy Montgomery sound. Swells of sound and backwards audio build up dense and thick but not overpowering--more like chocolate syrup that has been left out in an unheated car overnight. “Onward” has the feel of “Hallow” strummed Mogwai-esque guitars with soaring tones underneath. Like the best Mogwai, it does not hammer you but waits, and is patient, and gets you with a sucker punch. “Young Light” builds on the energy of “Onward!,” and is even more hopeful. It is one of those great driving tunes that might cause if you to find yourself slowly pushing the gas pedal as you grin like an idiot as the trees and cars fly by. ”Autumnal” seems like another shift in the record. It slows down from the previous two tracks. No longer manic, it seems content. It takes a darker turn on “Corpse Reviver No. 2.”
What is most surprising about this disc is the last song which is a cover of “Danzig.” My house mate in college LOVED Danzig, along with such bands as Type O Negative. We did not see eye to eye musically. Anyways, it will probably shock her to hear me say this, but I kind of dig this Danzig cover. I am not familiar with the original work but Jon’s take on it is admirable.
This disc, while tending slightly to the over droney and ambient, has enough variety and changes of textures to keep things interesting. It never seems indulgent or aimless. It also features a not too shabby pop tune “Hollow Earth Theory” and cover by an artist that I would think that never in a million years I would appreciate, but his take on it works.
~ Dan Cohoon, Amplitude Equals One Over Frequency Squared

The sixth outing from Jon DeRosa's Aarktica is another spacious and sparse record, an alternate-reality of darkish ambience resulting from hearing loss in one ear, first surfacing on 2000's No Solace in Sleep. On In Sea, he pays tribute to his mentors, who taught him to rely on physical vibrations of instruments. Unlike some previous recordings, this one is solely guitar and an antique pump organ. DeRosa even sings on "Hollow Earth Theory," which may have been best saved for a vocals album. An odd choice for a cover, "Am I Demon?" by Danzig, closes the album, Aarktica style. "Onward" and "Young Light" are the centerpiece, directing seagulls across the waters and onto distant shores.
~ Kenyon Hopkin, Advance Copy

Aarktica is a pretty fascinating project; formed in New York by Jon deRosa as a distraction following the loss of hearing in one ear, it takes the notion of altered auditory perception and makes it into an art form. An electronic, droning approach plays devil’s advocate to a warm, guitar-based ambience, tempting the traditional sound over into something quite other to great effect. Largely instrumental, “In Sea” is a diverse and intimate recording, exploratory, unexpected and rich.
You’re used to me picking out the coldest, most terrifying cuts of ambient music, so “In Sea” will be a different experience for all of us, as there’s nary a hint of threat in its duration. Opener “I Am (The Ice)” is imbued with Arctic clarity, that beautiful kind of snowflake-watching ambience, rich but with fragile, ice-form edges, and reminiscent of the Permafrost release I reviewed back towards the beginning of the year. “LYMZ” has a more burning tone, with droning steps leading into a clinical unknown. “Hollow Earth Theory” is the only original track featuring vocals, which, with the dominant guitar, burst through the consciousness after the lulling effect of the preceding compositions, drawing the listener’s attention to the fact that there’s more to Aarktica than glacial calm.
“A Plague of Frost” is majestically slow and distant, playing out subtle stretchings of drones and sounds, whilst the title track brings strumming guitars back to the foreground, interlacing with the shapes that inhabit the distortion, repetitive yet dreamy and somehow lovely. “Autumnal” is a stand-out track, perfectly titled with its warm acoustic work, whilst “When We’re Ghosts” is more dramatic, with echoing guitar building up momentum until crashing chords shatter the impetus, and the thread breaks down into a looping swirl. “Am I Demon?” is DeRosa’s own by merit of his creative re-imagining of how it should go, and his velvety vocal.
“In Sea” moves between different feelings, but with no hurry. It’s constructed with the lightest of touches, but manages to move you on a deep, resonant level; today I find it blissful and relaxing but there are dark, blue spaces between sounds in which to feel melancholy as well. Although the tracks are easily followed, they’re never exactly linear, with more than one ‘thread’ of sound always working just nearly in tandem with others. A very different listening experience for you all, and something of a treasure.
~ Ellen Simpson, Hierophant Nox

Intelligent dreamwave ambientalia—slow, fog-beshrouded, creeping—suffuses and dominates Aarktika's sixth long-form release In Sea, the title an ironic homage to Terry Riley, one of the prime fathers of modern music (a thematic extended in LYMZ, named after Lamont Young & Marian Zazeela, Jon DeRosa's [Aarktika's] teachers), but that mode is just one of several kindred. Hollow, for instance, is a combination of Sensation's Fix, Sigur Ros, and mellowsided Bond Berglund.
DeRosa sits within one of the sub-groups in the mode, a klatsch of player-composers heavily favoring processed guitar rather than keyboards but coming up with essentially the same sound. Though that might sound limiting—after all, only six strings, right?—it's actually expansive, as, within this group's output, one can detect patches, sounds, and timbres only otherwise available through a Jupiter 6 synth, an instrument devilishly difficult to lay hands on but popular for its pan pots, rather than increment/decrement clickers, and various other features. Whether such musicians choose guitar over keyboards for that reason is up for grabs, but there are other motives as well: envelope advantages (distinctive attack, etc.), tighter control (fingers controlling strings on the fretboard), and other strategies. These things matter in such musics.
The title cut serves as a good center. Spooky, Enoidal (On Land), billowing with gestural swaths and slow splashes, it layers a cinematic painting of mutable shapes, hallucinogenic incidents, repeating patterns, and slowly rising energies. Onward!, on the other hand, defaults back to strums and fingerpicking atop the washes and echoes, leading into the more insistent Young Light. Everything, however, revolves around drones and inchingly progressive rondos nearly frozen. A work of superior discretion, In Sea re-proves Martha Graham's Rule of One rather nicely.
~ Mark S. Tucker, FAME

Jon DeRosa's early '00s approach to minimalist drone was appropriately icy, given the name of his decade spanning project. "I Am (The Ice)" and "LYMZ," the two tracks that introduce this sixth full-length, return to this core glacial drift with undertones of pipe organ dressed with glittering pinpoints of guitar. On Matchless Years (his 2007 release on Darla), DeRosa had turned towards songs and a familiar early '90s fuzz/reverb sound that swamped mid-'00s rock. Here, the songs, like "Hollow Earth Theory," with its simple loops and repeated lyrics, stay within a bubble of austerity. The album succeeds in doing quite a bit with its restricted approach, moving from portentous darkness ("A Plague of Frost") to bravura reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky ("Young Light"). Doom clutches the last rays of the album with "Corpse Reviver No. 2," a track that would please Erik Skodvin, and there's even a bone-dry cover of Danzig's "Am I Demon?"
~ Eric Hill, Exclaim

Aarktica = ambient galaxy-surfing + strong pop melody + in-the-moment drone. Here the emphasis is on the latter, but don't overlook the former, either. We’re floating, unmoored. Right away there’s an unmistakable mood: flickering tones with ominous chords beneath. “I Am (The Ice)” is the song title, signifying the ways this album is both personal statement and abstract landscape painting. If “I Am (The Ice)” is the sound of glaciers, spectacular and haunting, "Lymz" goes deeper inside, building a static fog of feeling.
We’re lumbering about in the same territory throughout. “A Plague of Frost (In the Guise of Diamonds)” quietly emulates an isolated mood, as tones shift subtly. The title track "In Sea" (a play, I gather, on Terry Riley's classic "In C") is similar but spiky. A guitar string scratching noise becomes the cry of whales or the cutting of frozen water. There’s also occasionally a pop song with the same mood, one that lingers on gorgeously, like “Hollow Earth Theory”, which reminds me of the second Aarktica album, ...Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life and Be Happy Anyway.
“Onward!” has a great melody that quietly progresses. “Young Light” is the catchiest pop song of the album, and instrumental. It represents the hopeful side of an album that gets more forceful as it goes. Even a track as downcast as “Corpse Reviver No 2” carries a sense of resolution and anticipation. “When We’re Ghosts” gets a sense of doom from electric-guitar noise bursts, the perfect lead-in to the last track, a cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon?” which feels both like an exit and a headstrong statement of intent. Beautiful and breathtaking, start to finish.
~ Dave Heaton, Erasing Clouds

The latest disc from NYC's Aarktica, In Sea showcases a band fully in mastery of a genre. The slow but beautiful ambient sound collages create an atmosphere over which a willing mind may set itself adrift. Aarktica could be the heir apparent to a style of music once championed by Brian Eno and later by bands like Black Tape for a Blue Girl from the Projekt label.
I listened to In Sea recently while driving on a pre-dawn Midwest winter morning. The crystalline sounds coming from the car stereo blended seamlessly with the icy road, frozen fields and leaden skies that revealed themselves as I passed. As the cold sun rose, I felt as though all of life was being washed over by eternal winter. Quite an effect, I assure you. Rarely have I found a band so perfectly named.
Aarktica, since inception in 1998, has primarily been a solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jon De Rosa. Other releases include No Solace in Sleep (1998), the wonderfully titled Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life and Be Happy Anyway, Bliss Out v.18 (2002), Pure Tone Audiometry (2003), and Bleeding Light (2005). It is worth noting that De Rosa began the Aarktica project as a distraction from other musical interests after suffering permanent loss of hearing in one ear. Perhaps because of this, there exists in much of Aarktica's music a humanity I find missing from the output of most ambient artists.
Like the other Aarktica releases, In Sea is for the most part an instrumental affair. De Rosa seems quite comfortable letting the wonderfully crafted soundscapes do the talking for him. Although he displays a fine voice and knack for vocal melody, the lone vocal on 'Hollow Earth Theory' makes this one song seem rather out of its element. But just when you think you've got Aarktica figured out, De Rosa manages to trot out an amazing version of Danzig's 'Am I Demon?' as the closer for In Sea. The cold, unforgiving permafrost of Aarktica transforms the song into a beautiful and chilling coda for what is really a sterling effort.
~ Tim Ferguson, Bad Acid

Questa musica è un metronomo brillante. Jon DeRosa muove gli strumenti con innegabile maestria. Ascoltando questo splendido disco mi viene da pensare, e di conseguenza scrivere, che queste composizioni non sono per tutti. Sì, insomma facciamo lo snob ma queste sonorità non devono (e non possono) essere ascoltate da tutti. Sono troppe belle ed impegnative per essere assimilate pienamente da un pubblico distratto. Non sono canzoncine da canticchiare la mattina appena svegli. Sono composizioni strazianti che lacerano il cuore e la mente, bisogna avere una profonda umiltà e sensibilità per saperle capire a fondo. La prova è la bellezza infinita di "Hollow Earth Theory", ballata soffusa che sprofonda nel mare più nero. Una bellezza accecante che può colpire duramente l'ascoltatore. Ecco perchè scrivevo che "In Sea" non è adatto a tutti, si potrebbe venire sconvolti da tutto questo magma incandescente. Da prendere assolutamente con le molle, e se poi riuscite a goderne tanto meglio.
~ Claudio Baroni, Musica

Avec Matchless Years, son précédent album, Aarktica n’avait pas vraiment convaincu, tout au plus suscité l’étonnement. Dix ans après ses débuts, Jon DeRosa y endossait des atours résolument plus colorés, une parure presque pop, qui lui donnait une silhouette certes agréable mais bien moins troublante que celle de ses jeunes années. C’est donc presque un soulagement d’entamer In Sea avec « I Am (The Ice) » dont les sonorités renouent totalement avec cette mélancolie ralentie, tout en nappes envoûtantes et en échos de guitares tourbillonnants, à laquelle on avait jadis succombé. De nouveau seul aux commandes, l’Américain en profite pour abandonner les arrangements parfois inopportuns de son précédent opus, et enfante une oeuvre aux allures de retour aux sources, mise en abîme de sa propre musique intérieure. Quoi de plus naturel quand on connaît la genèse du projet, puisque c’est au moment où DeRosa perdait l’usage d’une partie de son audition, qu’il se jetait à corps perdu dans Aarktica, comme s’il cherchait à communiquer au monde extérieur, sa perception altérée de l’univers sonore. Bien souvent instrumentales – mais pas exclusivement – ses créations restent trop méconnues, alors qu’elles mériteraient d’être citées comme des références du genre, au même titre que celles de Labradford (à l’écoute d’un titre comme « Corpse Reviver No2 », on ne peut s’empêcher de penser à l’austérité fascinante de leur Stable Reference), Stars Of The Lid ou Windy & Carl. Mais avec ses lumineuses lignes de guitare en apesanteur façon Robin Guthrie, In Sea s’inscrit aussi dans cette tradition douce-amère, que célébraient les premiers Piano Magic ou plus récemment, les disques de July Skies. Son manteau brumeux d’orgue (« LYMZ » ou « A Plague of Frost ») rappelle d’autres pensionnaires du label Silber (Northern Valentine), signe que le retour d’Aarktica au sein du giron new-yorkais n’a rien d’incongru, et installe bien plus encore le groupe comme influence notoire d’une partie de cette scène contemplative. Et si DeRosa soigne ses ambiances, il sait aussi mettre en valeur son agréable timbre vocal : « Hollow Earth Theory » (qui ravive les effets de pistes passées à l’envers datant de l’excellent Pure Tone Audiometry) ou l’incroyable reprise du « Am I Demon ? » de Danzig (à la teinte bien plus inquiétante que l’originale) donnent alors une dimension plus humaine à ses fresques sonores languides. In Sea est un glacier à la dérive, calme et majestueux, massif et fragile à la fois.
~ Arnaud Lemoine, Noise

A mix of indie rock and post rock, that's what Aarktica offers you on its sixth album In Sea. Since 2000 this band, that revolves around Jon DeRosa, delivers music with a high degree of ambience and picturesque quality. Call it post-modern or avant-garde, Aarktica has a sense of classical experimentalism. Vocals play a modest role on In Sea (only two songs contains lyrics), the emphasis is on delicate instrumental textures. Brittle, dreamy guitar play forms the basis of the tracks on In Sea. It comes forward as drone music on "I am (the ice)", "In sea", "Corpse reviver no.2", "Instill" and "A plague of frost (in the guise of diamonds)". On "LYMC" a pump organ is brought in for extra effect. "When we're ghosts", "Onward!", "Young light" and, to a lesser extend, "Autumnal" bring in more melodic variations. "Hollow earth theory" is a piece of psychedelic indie rock and the closing track is a placid cover of "Am I demon?", a 1988 song by the blues rock/metal band Danzig.
~ Gothtronic

I non molti che si fossero imbattuti nei precedenti lavori realizzati, nella sua decennale attività sotto l'alias Aarktica, dal newyorkese John DeRosa forse già conoscono l'aneddoto preliminare al suo avvicinamento a una creazione artistica incentrata su toni, onde e oscillazioni collocate in un territorio liminare tra vista e udito. La peculiare sinestesia della musica di DeRosa deriva infatti dall'improvvisa sordità che nel 1999 lo ha colpito all'orecchio destro: da allora DeRosa ha pubblicato cinque album nei quali, con il saltuario ausilio di vari collaboratori, ha sviluppato un proprio percorso a cavallo tra drone ambientali, pop atmosferico e sporadiche incursioni in affini territori wave-shoegaze.
Nonostante la sigla Aarktica si sia quasi sempre associata a opere di buona qualità (da ricordare in particolare il primo album "No Solace In Sleep" e il successivo Ep "Morning One"), per uno di quegli strani casi che spesso capitano in ambiti musicali sotterranei, non è mai assurta a un livello di considerazione paragonabile, ad esempio, a quello degli Stars Of The Lid o di Windy & Carl.
Nelle loro varie sfumature, infatti, i dischi di DeRosa non sono poi stati mai molto distanti dalle sonorità di casa Kranky, alle quali con il suo sesto "In Sea" si riaccosta con decisione, dopo le non del tutto convincenti divagazioni in chiave sintetica del precedente "Matchless Years".
DeRosa ritrova qui l'essenza più pura e personale della sua ispirazione, attraverso l'utilizzo soltanto delle chitarre e del suo antico organo a pompa Bilhorn, più che sufficienti, tuttavia, ad offrire un saggio ad ampio spettro di glaciali sinfonie ambientali, schegge di canzoni dal sapore sognante e inafferrabili ondulazioni, che traducono in maniera compiuta la tematica "liquida" concettualmente sottesa al lavoro.
Nel corso dei cinquantasei minuti di "In Sea", drone di organo si fondono con toni e riverberi chitarristici policromi, in una serie di combinazioni ben più ricche di quanto la semplice strumentazione utilizzata potrebbe lasciare presagire. Dalle solenni dilatazioni percorse da distorsioni circolari dell'iniziale "I Am (The Ice)" alle calde tonalità di "Onward" e "Young Light", fino alla tenebrosa uniformità di "Autumnal" e "Instill", DeRosa passa in rassegna le diverse sfumature di una musica al tempo stesso incantata come il ghiaccio e in incessante movimento tra correnti di modulazioni e distorsioni, ora esili ora decisamente più concrete. La persistenza impalpabile della concezione di musica ambientale dell'artista newyorkese trova poi sublimazione nell'omaggio a LaMonte Young e Marian Zazeela (suoi maestri nei tempi immediatamente successivi alla sua menomazione fisica) di "LYMZ" e nella lunga elegia "A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds)", frutto, al pari di "Corpse Reviver No. 2", di una tecnica casalinga di registrazione in bassa fedeltà a velocità doppia rispetto a quella di esecuzione (tecnica già presente nei dischi di Aarktica fin dal primo "No Solace In Sleep").
In parallelo con gli aspetti più dilatati e sperimentali del lavoro, non implicano tuttavia la rinuncia da parte di DeRosa alla sua vena melodica, riscontrabile anche in gran parte dei brani strumentali ed espressa in due vere e proprie canzoni - "Hollow Earth Theory" e la delicatissima cover dei Danzig "Am I Demon" - nelle quali si manifestano altresì compiutamente pennellate oscure e dense di sentori shoegaze, rielaborati al tempo del digitale.
È questa versatilità, peraltro comune a quasi tutti i dischi di Aarktica, a fare di "In Sea" un album dalle tante sfaccettature, che descrive con raffinato sguardo da regista onde ghiacciate, reali e figurate, avvolte in tiepido bozzolo sonoro di espansa e multiforme intensità.
~ Raffaello Russo, Onda Rock

Correva l'anno 1998 quando Jon DeRosa imbracciava la chitarra ed iniziava a scrivere e registrare i primi brani a nome Aarktica. Sfortuna vuole che proprio in quel periodo Jon abbia perso completamente l'udito ad un orecchio, situazione che lo costringe in qualche modo a dover re-imparare ad ascoltare la musica, le voci, i suoni. Questa particolare interpretazione del mondo dei suoni, ha indubbiamente condizionato il suo modo di vivere la musica, creando una serie di coincidenze e di incastri che negli anni si sono sviluppati album dopo album fino ad arrivare a questa sesta produzione 'In Sea' edita dall'americana Silber records. L'album si muove per la quasi totalità, nei meandri nebbiosi e ipnoticamente confortevoli dell'ambient e della drone music fatta eccezione per due brani che vedono DeRosa alla prova vocale, il risultato è ottimo sopratutto per la rivisitazione dello storico 'Am I Demon' dei Danzig. Nel complesso l'album è molto piacevole, rilassante ed il suono globale risulta estremamente potente e curato, in alcuni casi si avvertono echi di post-rock mentre il mantra suggestivo creato dai reverse di chitarra muta la sua forma in continuazione producendosi in sfumature che riportano ad alcuni lavori di Eno.
~ Ultrasonica

Už svým názvem evokuje projekt Jona DeRosy nekone?né zamrzlé scenérie, které hudba Aarktika velmi v?rn?p?ipomíná. Drone ambient tohoto personáln? prom?nlivého sdružení má hladiv?jší konotace, které nepo?ítají s rytmy, o to víc si vyhrají s dozvuky desítek kytarových vazeb, které poletují rozsáhle na?rtnutým prostorem. Aarktika je i na novém albu In Sea stále svá, kombinuje zpívané shoegaze ukolébavky s nekone?nými statickými instrumentálkami, které mohou p?ipomenout nap?íklad Stars Of The Lid nebo Sunn O))).
~ Pavel Zelinka, Radio Wave

“In Sea” e’ il sesto full lenght per Aarktica, il progetto creato da Jon DeRosa e all’attivo da quasi dieci anni, un album composto da mille sfumature musicali che compongono un quadro ricco di atmosfere e sonorita’ molto particolari.
La musica di DeRosa fa ricordare a tratti le colonne sonore di Morricone e le atmosfere Ambient del nord Europa , le influenze che si sentono nell’album sono davvero tante e svariate ma la cosa che piu’ spicca e’ la ricerca di suoni che caratterizzino determinate sensazioni come nella opening track “I Am (The Ice)”, che trasporta la mente nei freddi ghiacciai del nord cristallini e puri; sensazione che si prova anche nella track che da il nome all’album “In Sea” dove vi si sentono anche degli accenni che ricordano i rumori dell’oceano. Particolare la cover di Danzig “Am I Demon”, le note leggere di chitarra sono delicate accompagnate da suoni e voce che danno un mood rilassante, in quanto si distanzia davvero parecchio dalla versione originale del pezzo, affrontata un po’ come viaggio spirituale. Molto interessante anche “Hollow Earth Theory” dove possiamo sentire per la seconda volta la voce sempre molto delicata e rilassante di DeRosa.
Nel totale e’ un album prettamente Ambient e le melodie sono molto rilassanti e leggere senza comunque cadere nel monotono. Per chi non conosce questo genere puo’ essere una buona scoperta (in mezzo a tutto il caos della solita musica elettronica odierna un po’ di atmosfera rilassante fa piacere!) il consiglio e' di ascoltarlo con calma e lasciarsi trasportare da questo viaggio emozionale.
~ Alone Music

1. Los discos de Aarktica, junto a los de Stars of the Lid y Eluvium, son de lo que más me gusta en la música ambient de esta década. Prefería sus primeros álbumes, porque del más reciente me entusiasmaban ciertos tracks, no el disco completo, impersonal y distante incluso para un proyecto cuyo nombre evoca páramos helados. Por eso me alegra escuchar ahora In Sea, el LP que Aarktica estrenó este otoño, de los más equilibrados de su carrera y el que mejor destila la experiencia acumulada.
Me pasó como cuando ves una película y juras que algo es CGI, luego ves el "detrás de cámaras" y descubres que no era el caso. Imaginaba un equipo de colaboradores y una variada lista de instrumentos, pero no, este disco lo hizo Jon DeRosa (así se llama el que firma como Aarktica) completamente solo, y no se ha valido de instrumentos electrónicos propiamente dichos. Todo lo que suena aquí ha salido de una guitarra y un órgano Bilhorn de los años treinta, si bien algunos efectos se han trabajado directamente con las cintas de grabación, como en los orígenes del ambient.
¿De entrada piensas que un disco así no es para ti? Te invito a escuchar las dos canciones de formato tradicional que aparecen en él, ambas cantadas por DeRosa: "Hollow Earth Theory" y un inesperado cóver de (¡tómala!) Danzig, "Am I Demon?", para el cual han hecho un video Virginia Apicella y Beppe Blasi en Italia. Apuntan en direcciones distintas, la primera es de un optimismo deliberado prácticamente ausente en la obra anterior de este autor; la segunda conserva el tono de la original, llevado a un estado de ánimo meditabundo.
El resto, puramente instrumental, remite al álbum debut No Solace in Sleep (2000), pero más melódico, con insistentes punteos de guitarra que se desarrollan sobre drones y acordes en progresión, como avanzar sobre un campo desolado pero con una primera luz despuntando en el horizonte. "LYMZ" es un agradecimiento para La Monte Young y Marian Zazeela, los mentores de Aarktica, quienes además de composición y canto tradicional de la India le enseñaron a escuchar la música incluso cuando no puedes percibirla como el resto del público, algo que fue determinante para que DeRosa abandonara el rock y folk y se adentrara en el género con el que le conocemos ahora.
2. En el ambient no faltan las leyendas, los momentos biográficos que explican hallazgos musicales. Comenzando con el mito fundacional, la anécdota con la que Brian Eno explica como decidió su tránsito del glam y el rock a la fundación del sello disquero Obscure, que ha sido recogida en diversos textos. Reproduzco aquí un fragmento:
"En enero de 1975 tuve un accidente, un taxi me atropelló. No estaba seriamente herido, pero estaba confinado en la cama con una posición rígida y estática. Mi amigo Judy Nylon me visitó y me trajo un disco de música de arpa del siglo XVIII. Después de que se marchase, y con bastante dificultad, puse el disco. Cuando ya estaba acostado, me di cuenta de que el volumen era extremadamente bajo y uno de los canales del estéreo no funcionaba. Como no tenía energía suficiente para levantarme y arreglarlo, el disco era casi inaudible. Estaba acostado en una semipenumbra, y entonces empecé a escuchar ese disco como nunca antes había escuchado música alguna. Era realmente una experiencia muy bella. Tenía la sensación de icebergs. No podía oír más que ocasionalmente los fragmentos más fuertes de la música, no percibía más que pequeñas ráfagas de notas que me llegaban por encima del ruido de la lluvia de afuera, y enseguida volvían a marcharse a la deriva. Así empecé a reflexionar sobre la música como ambiente" (Brian Eno citado por Quim Casas en Loops, una historia de la música electrónica, p. 86)
Harold Budd también explica su música también con una historia personal. Fue criado en el desierto de Mojave y el sonido que hacía el viento contra los cables de teléfono y las torres eléctricas fueron la banda sonora de su infancia. Su música va más allá de ese zumbido primario, pero nace de ese recuerdo. En el caso de Jon DeRosa se trata de un acontecimiento del que no ha podido desprenderse en el resto de su vida: a fines de los noventa perdió la capacidad de escuchar con su oído derecho, lo que produjo alucinaciones auditivas y una sensación de escuchar las cosas "como si estuviera bajo del agua". El título que ha escogido ahora, In Sea, alude a esa condición, al mismo tiempo que hace un juego de palabras con "In C", la composición minimalista de Terry Riley. Al margen de los juegos de palabras y las experiencias biográficas, permítanse sumergirse en este disco. Si les atrae, visiten el primero, No Solace in Sleep (sobre advertencia no hay engaño: es más denso y sombrío).
~ Nicolas Diaz, Milenio

Con gli Aarktica e il loro album In Sea, pur restando dentro i confini del post-rock, le atmosfere sono abbastanza diverse (e per quel che conta li preferisco ai Remora).
Gli Aarktica sono l’invenzione di Jon DeRosa un compositore che scopre a fine anni ’90 di essersi giocato un orecchio per un problema fisico. Invece di perdersi d’animo, inizia a bombarsi di antidolorifici (!) e - ma questa è una mia ipotesi -  a bere forte, visto che in un’intervista dichiarerà di aver iniziato a provare delle allucinazioni uditive. Le sue opere, compreso l’album che ho per le orecchie (In Sea) è un tentativo di riprodurre proprio queste allucinazioni.
Da un punti di vista musicale, gli Aarktica sono un gruppo sospeso tra lunghe trame strumentali alla Eluvium o Helios (epigoni a loro volta di compositori come Philip Glass e Brian Eno) o pezzi post-rock alla Sigur Ros. Qualche volta fa capolino pure la voce, come nella cover di Danzig “Am I Demon” e in “Hollow Earth Theory” (qui si avverte qualche eco lontano di “TV on The Radio”). Sono due pezzi davvero belli  che fanno nascere il dubbio che gli Aarktica possano ancora avere un’evoluzione verso sonorità interessanti anche dal punto di vista commerciale.
L’album è molto gradevole, a parte qualche battuta a vuoto (“Corpse Reviver Number 2”) e come accostamento il sommellier vi propone una bella domenica mattina uggiosa (ma di quelle con il big match in posticipo serale), da pigiama e ciabatte e grattata di soddisfazione alle parti basse, osservando il mondo fuori mentre si bagna.
~ Black Milk

Que sait-il passer dans la vie de Jon DeRosa depuis Matchless Years paru en 2008 ? A-t-il touché le succès de trop près avec son projet Aarktica ? Lui qui semblait avoir abandonné les drones au profit d’une écriture plus pop éthérée, a-t-il eu l’impression de se perdre loin de ses bases, de ses racines ? En avait-il assez de faire appel aux autres pour donner corps à sa musique ? En tout cas, après son exil sur la Côte Ouest, le voilà de retour au bercail après plusieurs réalisations chez Darla. Un retour à propos puisque Aarktica applique scrupuleusement les canons édictés par la label de Caroline du Nord. Seul maître à bord de son navire fantôme, il inscrit In The Sea, dans la continuité de Pure Tone Audiometry, son album le plus ambiant justement paru en 2003 sur... Silber Records. Comme quoi, on peut parfois se fier aux "étiquettes".
Un véritable revirement, car les mélodies "catchy" de Matchless Years, l’évidence même qui transparaissait tout au long de ses précédents disques, sont ici trop souvent délayées au fil de longues plages ambiantes, essentiellement instrumentales. A tel point qu’on est bien à la peine pour s’accrocher à un motif mélodique sur certaines plages éthérées à l’extrême. Le long morceau A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds) est ainsi une sorte de plongée dans un abyme de néant ; Instill tourne en boucle au gré des vagues et du ressac, alors que Onward ! ou In Sea se situent tout juste au dessus de la ligne de flottaison : des étendues d’eau calme tout juste parcourues d’une très légère brise. Heureusement, par ailleurs, il y a un peu plus de mouvement, de courant, et l’ondulation prend forme lorsque Aarktica déploie des lignes de guitare lumineuses sur un tapis synthétique dense comme sur Young Light, l’un des morceaux les plus intenses d’In The Sea, ou When We’tre Ghosts, presque tempétueux. Et puis, il y a Hollow Earth Theory, poussé par la dérive littorale depuis les rivages de Matchless Years pour venir s’échouer ici : Jon DeRosa chante alors une belle chanson mélancolique, une bulle en apesanteur, qui fait amèrement regretté qu’il ait délaissé cette orientation sur In The Sea. La reprise en fin de parcours de Am I Demon ? de Danzig, seul autre morceau chanté, ne fait qu’accroître ce sentiment : après une album à la douceur cotonneuse, Aarktica livre un album glacial.
~ Denis Frelat, Autres Directions

"In Sea" ist eine Hommage an Terry Rileys "In C" und gleichzeitig auch der Verweis auf die ambientigen Kältelandschaften, die Jon DeRosa in wunderbare Gitarrenläufe packt und nebenbei immer wieder mit zuckerwattigen Shoegaze-Vocals versieht. Fabulöser Abschluss auch mit Danzigs "Am I Demon?".
~ Daniel Kr?ál, Rokko's Adventures