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DeRosa - Anchored
CD EP 2011 | Silber 103
4 tracks, 16 minutes
$6 ($12 international, $3 download (320 kbps, ~35 megs))
: Listen to the track Anchored
: Press Release
Anchored, Snow Coffin, Ladies in Love, Submarine Bells
It was somewhere between King City and Salinas, on a Californian road trip, that Jon DeRosa's 2011 EP, Anchored, completely blow me away. Everything fell immediately into place on the first tune, which is also the title track. The guitar's reverbed twang leads into the beautiful baritone lyrics, "I was anchored once / by your love for me / but now those knots have broke / and I am lost at sea / or it seems to be / spent the night drinking an ocean full." Backed by brush-laden, subtle drumming and, then, then it is all brought to another emotional level when the strings wash in and blanket the listener in a sea of sorrow, regret, and just a little hope for what the future has to bring.
The second tune, "Snow Coffin," picks up the pace a little and is a solid chamber indie rock gem. Melodic and hypnotic, the listener drifts off in a soft world of memories and hazy black and white dreams. "Ladies in Love" really showcases DeRosa's beautiful voice as he bellows over finger-picked acoustic guitar with lush backing violins and cellos, "Ladies should never fall in love / they become stars no one can reach." So perfect! The final song, "Submarine Bells," like the previous three tunes, follows a similar formula - vocals, cello, trumpet, and vibraphone take the front seat with subtle background vocals add some dimension to his poetic and somber lyrics.
As I mentioned, DeRosa's voice is beautiful. But, his arrangements deserve just as much attention, if not more. He has a clear understanding of song writing and classical arrangement that are reflected in each song and its instrumentation. Violins, cellos, trumpet, flute, and clarinet all serve a specific function throughout the songs. More than just layers and texture, the additional instrumentation adds drama and emotion to these very personal tunes.
I can't recommend this beautiful EP enough!
~ Monte Cimino, Maelstrom
Jon DeRosa, whom most people might know from his project Aarktica, takes a musical break from his usual combination of dense guitar-driven ambient and indie rock songs and turns instead to more open and spacious compositions. The four richly arranged songs on this first eponymous EP build in part on the goth folk of Jon’s old project Dead Leaves Rising and the americana of Pale Horse and Rider, but mostly tread new ground. This EP is an example of wonderful the format can be; the freedom to really select a couple of excellent songs and present them without and filler material. The short duration is no obstacle, because this is one to just put on repeat and play often.
The opening title track is a slow waltz on clean electric guitar, with Jon’s voice sounding warmer than ever. The song is supplemented with wonderful arrangements for strings (Julia Kent on cello) and horns (Jon Natchez), and the description of “chamber pop” as suggested by the label seems quite accurate. The following tracks offer many different highlights after this lovely opener. “Snow Coffin” is a very uplifting up-tempo track where the drums are a bit more prominent, marching proudly on like the soldier brother the song is dedicated to. We are also treated to wonderful double-voiced ending featuring Lorraine Lelis, a long-time Aarktica collaborator. The dark and gloomy acoustic “Ladies in Love” is almost a return to the folky stylings of Dead Leaves Rising, but with the maturity of over ten years of additional musical experience. The almost 17-minute EP ends with “Submarine Bells”, a cover taken from the 1990 album of the same name by The Chills. DeRosa stays pretty faithful to the lush orchestration of the original, but definitely makes it his own by virtue of his voice. Regardless, it is a wonderful composition, poetic and romantic, and the version on Anchored is more than worthy.
Apart from the quality of the individual tracks, the best thing about this EP is how DeRosa effortlessly shifts musical gear and delivers a celebration of song in a very pure form. There aren’t that many concrete genre trappings here, though classic American pop from early last century is a prominent one, and it sounds perfectly at home in 2011, at least in this form. No need for any specific target-group recommendations here. This is simply a beautiful release, so go have a listen. I hope it is a precursor of more to come.
~ Evening of Light
Brooklyn, NY based guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter Jon DeRosa is perhaps known best from his mostly instrumental and guitar-based atmospheric project Aarktica (released 3 studio albums, a remix album, and a live EP through Silber) and his participation as guitarist to NYC based Chamber Pop ensemble, but his musical output goes beyond that. An overview?
Growing up in the small NJ coastal town of Manasquan, Jon grew up idolizing Glenn Danzig. In his early teens he started studying Classical and Flamenco guitar, all the while memorizing the complete catalog of the 4AD and Projekt Records labels. By his 18th birthday, he'd already been involved in several musical projects (including Fade and Still, whom both released cassette demos), but his Dark Folk/ Goth band Dead Leaves Rising was the first to raise national attention, continuing critical and fan acclaim until disbanded in 2002 (leaving us two delightful albums with 1997's Shadow Complex and 2001's Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of No One). In 1998 Jon lost nearly all hearing in his right ear, definitely a tragic thing to happen to one as young as he was at the time...but Jon turned misfortune to good things when he let the sonic hallucinations that went with the ailment inspire him to start the Aarktica project. In those difficult year following his hearing loss, Jon started studying Indian Classical vocal music, which would be particularly influential to him and affect his musical output. The year 2000 saw the Silber release of that project's debut album No Solace In Sleep (described back then by Dream Magazine's George Parsons as “...songlike as a sedated Durutti Column, or as ectoplasmic as Flying Saucer Attack sleepwalking through Windy & Carl's home movies of their trip to Iceland...”). Follow-up albums Morning One (EP, 2001) and Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life...(Bliss Out v.18) were issued through Ochre Records and Darla Records respectively, but for 3003's Pure Tone Audiometry (described by New York Times' Jon Perales as “...extended reveries, built on loops of guitars & drums & occasional voices...the musical elements hover & circle, float by or bristle with distortion as the songs drift through serenity and trouble...”) Jon returned to Silber. The collaboration with Darla however, would continue, as they also released Aarktica's 2005 album Bleeding Light and 2007's Matchless Years.
At the beginning of the decade Jon started his collaboration with Flare (have released one EP and 3 full-lengths, the last in 2011), and he briefly recorded under the name Pale Horse And Rider (releasing 2002's split CD The Alcohol EPs on Silber, and 2003's These Are The New Good Times and 2005's Moody Pike through Darla Records) and in 2006 lent his voice to Stephin Merritt's opera The Peach Blossom Fan in the role of Hou Fang Yu. Some of his contributions were first featured on Merritt's 2006 album Showtunes (released through the Nonesuch imprint) before the opera piece became available on the same label in 2008. In 2006, Silber had released a download EP entitled Live At KUCI (recorded during a 2005 performance) and in 2009 they did the same for Aarktica's studio album In Sea. 2010 found the label also release the full-length In Sea Remixes (obvious, I should think, what's on thàt album?).
Meanwhile, Jon apparently found the time ripe to steer away somewhat from his more electrified meanderings with Aarktica, and decided to record a 4-some of acoustic songs under his own name, aided in this by cellist Julia Kent and Jon Natchez (of Beirut and Yellow Ostrich repute) on horns and woodwinds. Well, perhaps there's some soft electric guitar passage in the opening passage (and inside the song as well) of the EP's opening title track anyway? Songs, because Jon brought his calm and warm baritone voice to each of the tracks, with aid from Lorraine Lelis (formerly of Mahogany and currently part of the Aarktica project) in the EP's closing track “Submarine Bells”, a cover you might know from The Chills' catalog (hey, just perhaps she contributed to “Snow Coffin” as well, albeit in a less obvious way). There's certainly some darkness in each of these songs, the opening track pertaining to one being chained to the love to another person, second song “Snow Coffin” bringing a tale of betrayal and murder during winter, and the ensuing “Ladies In Love” borrowing from the poetry of Charles Schmid, aka the serial killer known as “The Pied Piper Of Tucson”. As for the closing song, well, the darkness is rather in the performance, which lays in a direct line as the rest of the songs.
The song “Anchored” (in effect the perfect showcase for the rest of the EP) is posted for your aural enjoyment at the artist's page on the label's website (as a point of interest, why don't you also also check the music of Aarktica while you're there?), and in fact all songs off the Anchored EP are posted atSoundCloud.com (as are more tracks of Aarktica, Pale Horse And Rider, and Dead Leaves Rising). Check it out at your own leasure, but know that there's possibly a time limit on getting a hard copy of the EP, as it's release is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies! Meanwhile, Jon has already announced to have worked on new songs for an upcoming sophomore EP, which he hopes to see released in early 2012. Me, I'm looking forward to that, but I wouldn't mind getting a new Aarktica album for review either!
~ Concrete Web
Aarktica leader Jon DeRosa steps up with a limited edition four-song EP influenced by Robert Wyatt, and the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan with hints of Spiritualized and Echo and The Bunnymen. The title cut unfolds at a heroic saunter, the melody haunting, uplifting, enigmatic. Joined by percussionist Sam Lazzara, whose presence is as integral to “Snow Coffin” as DeRosa’s own, plus cellist Julia Kent, violinist Claudia Chopek and several other players, Anchored never wavers from excellence. Some never write four songs of consequence in their entire careers; DeRosa has delivered that many in one sitting. The Nick Drake-cum-Scott Walker “Ladies In Love” suggests we have plenty to look forward to once DeRosa releases his first solo full length album later this year.
~ Jedd Beaudoin, PopMatters
Jon DeRosa is releasing a 4-track EP in September and it's 16 minutes of pure beauty. He has a deep, solid voice & is mostly accompanied by guitar and the occasional violin. His serene voice and the expressive lyrics makes this a record i can play over and over again. Which i have done the last 3 dark nights in a row several times. It feels as the perfect Winter morning record, walking through snow while freezing my fingers off, yet keeping the ears and spirit warm with these perfectly crafted songs. Although Winter is a few months ahead of us, this record is well worth hearing right away. The EP is now up for pre-order, so do your best to get a copy of the limited number (500) of copies being printed. Send it over to Holland as soon as you have 'em Jon!
~ Plug In Baby
Sometimes it seems lazy to compare artists to similar acts but at other times it would be almost irresponsible not to mention it. So whether it’s by acident or design, it’s almost impossible not to make comparisons between Jon DeRosa and Richard Hawley, even though these performers hail from Brooklyn and Sheffield, respectively.
The resemblance is to the fore from the outset, courtesy of the ballad ‘Anchored’ where DeRosa croons in melancholic fashion above rich layers of instruments. ‘Snow Coffin’ moves in to mid-paced territory. So many artists use strings to embellish their songs but so often they merely serve to cover up failings on the songrwriting front. Here, they definitely complement the natural warmth of the song. ‘Ladies In Love’, on the other hand, recalls the elegant, urbane atmosphere of The Divine Comedy and it’s then left to ‘Submarine Bells’ (a cover of a track by The Chills) to provide the lullaby moment; the arrangements surrounding DeRosa’s echoed croon like twinkling stars.
DeRosa has been better known as frontman for drone-pop act Aarktica for over a decade. Due to its limited release, ‘Anchored’ may not change that situation but whether this is a brief side project or not, there is a wonderful voice here which simply demands to be heard.
~ Leonard's Lair
DeRosa is a bit of a musical chameleon, releasing his material under a variety of guises, be it the guitar soundscapes of Aarktica (Terrastock alumni, Mason Jones of SubArachnoid Space features on an Aarktica remix album), the rocking, alt.country of Pale Horse and Rider, or the dark folk of Dead Leaves Rising. Jon celebrates his dozenth release with this 4-track EP released under his own name, and there’s a distinct 80’s vibe throughout. The title track is a dirgy lament that echoes The Cure and Echo and The Bunnymen at their most introspective, with perhaps a touch of Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized project trickling through. DeRosa’s sparkling guitar notes serpentine around Julia Kent’s superlative cello embellishment creating a warm, thousand-yard stare atmosphere.
The first thing you’ll notice about ‘Snow Coffin’ is Sam Lazzara’s big drum sound (an ‘80’s trademark), and the poppy, singalong track could have set comfortably on a Julian Cope album, both solo and his Teardrop Explodes material. ‘Ladies In Love’ is another tearful ballad, bleeding a mournful cello and reminiscent of his dark folk releases, but his tender voice lifts us above the somber backing and dreary imagery, which borrows a line from the poetry of serial killer, Charles Schmidt, the notorious “Pied Piper of Tucson.”
The set concludes with his interpretation of The Chills’ ‘Submarine Bells’, featuring tinkling vibes, Jon Natchez’ tearful horns, and delicate backing vocals from Lorraine Lelis. Overall, this is a perfect way to while away a dreamy, rainy afternoon.
~ Jeff Penczak, Terrascope
The first time I heard of Jon DeRosa was when he was a teenager. He sent his brilliant demos into a small indie record label that had the poor sense to employ me. His project, Dead Leaves Rising, was something the label should have latched onto immediately. The only reason I can think of that we didn’t was that we had our heads up our collective asses.
Or perhaps we didn’t know HOW to sign a 14 year old. What do you do? Ask for a note from mom and dad?
Since then DeRosa has worked on a number of consistently creative and adventuresome projects --Aarktica, Pale Horse And Rider.
This new record might lead some to look for differences with previous work. In fact is likely to look for similarities—and by that I mostly refer to the stellar songwriting. If DeRosa decides to embrace death metal or techno next the songs would be top notch. He is someone you should hear.
The CD release is limited to 500 hand numbered copies. A second record is in the works for next year.
~ Pat Ogle, Mapanare
The man behind Aarktica delivers his debut solo album, an EP with four gorgeous songs with delicate acoustic arrangements. A rich true-sounding baritone voice and tender lyrics – it’s In Gowan Ring minus the Gothic element. Short but very nice.
~ François Couture, Monsieur Delire
A l’heure de découvrir le premier disque signé sous son propre nom, difficile d’occulter l’histoire singulière de Jon DeRosa, qui a perdu l’usage d’une oreille en 1998. Abandonnant ces précédents projets, Flare et Dead Leaves Rising (dont les deux albums sont réédités ces jours-ci), DeRosa adopte alors une toute autre approche de la musique, délivrant sous le nom d’Aarktica de sombres albums fait de drones et de nappes ambiantes. Et puis, au fil des disques, le chant est revenu, les guitares ont rejailli, jusqu’à Matchless Years en 2007, magnifique album de cold-wave sensible et saisissante. Mais, tout près de toucher le soleil, Jon DeRosa fait alors volte face et se réfugie de nouveau dans les profondeurs abyssales (In Sea – 2009). Humeur instable, inspiration changeante, Jon DeRosa surprend à nouveau sur Anchored EP. Portées par un chant appliqué et très pur, les quatre chansons de ce disque dédié à Anthony DeRosa sont d’une grande limpidité acoustique et finement orchestrées. Le ton est franchement mélancolique, souligné par une pluie de violons, une averse de cuivres, soutenu par une batterie faisant régner une tension sourde d’avant l’orage. Un orage qui n’éclate pas. Inutile de céder à la colère puisqu’elle ne peut pallier au manque, à l’absence. Reste à Jon DeRosa les souvenirs et immortaliser avec la plus grande retenue cette déclaration d’amour posthume.
~ Denis Frelat, Autres Directions