"In Sea" is Jon DeRosa’s sixth-full length release as Aarktica and a return to the sound Aarktica established on its debut "No Solace In Sleep" in 2000.
While In Sea’s title is a nod to Terry Riley’s landmark minimal composition “In C,” DeRosa also pays tribute to his teachers La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela (“LYMZ”), with whom DeRosa studied composition and Indian classical vocal music during the difficult years following his sudden deafness. He credits Young & Zazeela with teaching him how to hear without ears, relying on the physical vibrations of his instrument and his vocal chords. This ability allows him to create more detailed and nuanced guitar structures than most could make even with full use of their ears.
In Sea’s parallels to No Solace In Sleep are apparent on the opening opus “I Am (The Ice),” a majestic dirge reclaiming Aarktica’s reputation as a master of chilling, glacial guitar symphonies. Two pieces, “A Plague of Frost (In The Guise Of Diamonds)” & “Corpse Reviver No. 2,” were recorded exactly like NSIS’s opening track “Glacia” – double-speed 4-track cassette recordings played back in regular speed mono. The darker, more rhythmic “Instill” meshes post-punk bass and guitar lines in repetition, falling into cathartic bursts of distortion, while tracks like “Onward!,” “When We’re Ghosts” & “Young Light” convey a youthful optimism absent from most of Aarktica’s catalog.
“Autumnal” rides along on layers of lush & layered picked guitars, almost hymnal in tone, while “In Sea” simmers like an oceanic storm, with the sky opening up to reveal both rain & bright sunlight. On “Hollow Earth Theory,” one of the two vocal tracks on the album, DeRosa hopes against hope that Inner Earth truly does exist, searching ancient maps for an escape & an entrance, stating “We will wait & we will see, if it’s right to put our faith all in this hollow earth theory.”
The album ends with Aarktica’s cover of Danzig’s “Am I Demon?” turning the blues-metal classic into one of deadpan dark, atmospheric intimacy & self-realization with organs & reverse guitar loops that imply an unholy exorcism. DeRosa’s exorcism perhaps? We hope so. After all, it sounds like the man has finally conquered his demons. After years of creating fractured pop songs for perfect ears, DeRosa has finally reconciled with the way he hears sounds, letting the rest of the world in on his otherworldly auditory hallucinations.