Aarktica is a way to “execute the soundtrack of life in mono… one of audio distortions, aural hallucinations and reliance on painkillers.” – Jon DeRosa
Aarktica, a solo project of New Jersey born guitarist Jon DeRosa was born out of a very unfortunate event – in the late 90s DeRosa suffered a permanent hearing loss in one of his ears and Aarktica became his way to demonstrate the peculiarity/pain of living in a mono mode. Much of Aarktica’s work came out on California-based label Darla Records, as well labels like Silber (US), Ochre (UK) and Moonbunny (Germany).
After playing in many hardcore/punk bands as a teenager, DeRosa ended up in New York and inspired by his love of bands on Projekt label, he started Aarktica in 1998, with the debut release “No Solace In Sleep” produced in 2000 and released by Silber Records.
In their review of the album, All Music Guide website pointed out that the album belongs to “the realm of feedback-induced drowned sound” which DeRosa explores “with as much grace and loveliness as one could hope for”. Alternative Press magazine called the album “a somber dreamscape where sound becomes music & music becomes sound”.
The follow-up to “No Solace…” was 2002 “Or You Could Just Go Through Your Life And Be Happy Anyway” – an album that surprisingly contained few tracks with vocals as opposed to all-instrumental previous LP. AMG called it a “warm, softer counterpart” to its predecessor and concluded that “DeRosa’s studies in music technology and psychology have definitely paid off for this record, as he produces a therapeutic album of celestial space rock.”
2003 LP “Pure Tone Audinometry” was pronounced to be “pure bliss” by All Music Guide. AMG pointed out that on the album, “DeRosa hit an ingenious balance between avant-gardist guitar soundscapes, neo-folk songwriting, and post-rock dreaminess.”
Considerably different from his previous records, 2005 “Bleeding Light” combined electronics, vocals, guitar and horns, with AMG pointing out that “the record represents a less desirable side of New York, but one that may not be sufficiently acknowledged.”
Aarktica’s latest LP (as of 2009) is “Matchless Years”, which came out on Darla Records in 2007. AMG pronounced that the record is bland, meditative and yawn-producing as opposed to Aarktica’s previous efforts. PopMatters website compared DeRosa’s vocals to those of Morissey, but also pointed out that the album’s “morose tunes are not able to capture one’s attention and that “jilted love lyrics add to the buzzkill of his sappy sad instrumentals.”
2007 also saw the release of an indie movie “Apology” which featured both old Aarktica material and new compositions written specifically for the movie soundtrack.
In addition to his solo work, DeRosa was/is involved in numerous other projects, including Dead Leaves Rising and Pale Horse And A Rider.
Update: In 2009, Aarktica released “In Sea” its sixth studio album, which came out on Silber Records. AMG commented that on the album is about Jon DeRosa “exploring the possibilities of drone-as-song, caught somewhere in suspended space between pure atmospherics and understated, almost hidden melodic grace.”
No Solace In Sleep CD (Silber, 2000)
Morning One EP (Ochre, 2001)
…Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life And Be Happy Anyway CD (Darla, 2002)
Pure Tone Audiometry CD (Silber, 2003)
Bleeding Light CD (Darla, 2005)
Ocean EP 12″ (Moonbunny, 2005)
Matchless Years CD (Darla, 2007)
In Sea CD (Silber, 2009)
“Elena” on Songs From The Loosing End 2.0 (Krank, 1999)
“Drone On A Theme By Thomas Ellis” on Zann (Silber, 2000)
“Icreateyoutoinhaleyou (Inthesehoursitsallihave)” on A Rocket Girl Compilation (Rocket Girl, 2001)
“These Days Fail To Bring Me Near” on Infrasonic Waves (Ochre, 2001)
“These Days Fail To Bring Me Near” on Ochre 7 Festival (Ochre, 2001)
“Aura Lee” on Little Darla Has A Treat For You Vol.18 (Darla, 2002)
“Out To Sea” on Little Darla Has A Treat For You Vol. 20 (Darla, 2003)
“Raga For The Pale Blue Lights” on Fuzzy Boombox V.2 (Fuzzy Box, 2004)
“Alceria” on Hear You Soon: Part One (Blue Bell, 2004)
“Brokedown” on Misplaced Pets (Misplaced Music, 2004)
“Bleeding Light (Edit)” on Little Darla Has A Treat For You Vol. 23 (Darla, 2005)
“You Have Cured A Million Ghosts From Roaming In My Head” on Drones, Loves, Honesties, Sounds (Silber, 2006)
“Summer Tunneling” on Little Darla Has A Treat For You Vol. 24 (Darla, 2006)
“Arms” on Little Darla Has A Treat For You Vol. 25 (Darla, 2007)
“Ocean” on Lost Tracks (Ad Noiseam, 2007)
“Ends” on Demain (Silber, unknown year)