April 07, 2005

Aarktica "Bleeding Light"

When you look at the name "Aarktica," you might think it pertains to something "artic," or possibly "Antartica." Listening to the Aarktica's fourth album Bleeding Light, it's quite obvious that such allusions are apt. To top it off, the album is wrapped up in chilling, stark white packaging, making it the sonic equivalent of spending six months in the tundra. It's cold, it's bleak, it's warm, and only occasionally is it warmed up by a ray or two of light. Wear a light jacket while listening and you'll freeze to death.

Such description might seem silly, but in the case of Aarktica, it's certainly apropos. Jon DeRosa's a man who likes his music to be atmospheric, whether it's cold gothic post-pop (Dead Leaves Rising) or country & western (Pale Horse & Rider), his music is always, always heavily drenched in atmosphere. For Bleeding Light, DeRosa--accompanied by members of the Antony Braxton Ensemble--examines a world that's arctic, cold and detatched and ambient. The pace is glacial; the music is extremely detatched and listening is narcotic, and that's most likely what DeRosa set out to accomplish. Unlike those other projects, Aarktica is more of a focus on the mental state; it's beautiful music for thinking, and lyrical content is not the focus.

While Bleeding Light has overtones of Eno--from the quiet, subtle ambient drone to DeRosa's somewhat awkward, drowsy vocals that pop in and out between long periods of gentle instrumental bliss--there's much more than mere rehashing of Music For Airports or Another Green World. Underneath the cathederals of relaxing sound, you'll soon discover that the music is built on late 1990s electronica ("Twilight Insecta"), Eastern rhythms ("We're Like Two Drops Seperated By A Drowning") and free jazz, ("Night Fell Broke Itself") but it never really sounds indebted to any one style. When he sings on "A Wash A Sea Goodbye It's Me" and "Depression Modern," he adds a dimension of melancholy to his work. Knowing that he's a good singer with a beautiful voice on his other projects should be kept in mind, because his singing here is as cold and detatched as the instrumental passages.

Bleeding Light is austere and cold and sounds like it should be played in art galleries and museum foyers. It's also intelligent, gorgeous and worth repeated listens. It is a beautiful soundtrack to a cold weekend, a good night's sleep or a simple forty-five minutes of meditation.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.aarktica.net
Label Website: http://www.darla.com

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