In Sea (11.09, Silber Records)
For: Remora, German Shepherd, Yume Bitsu
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.