(2002 – 2005)
Pale Horse and Rider was Jon DeRosa’s rock/country project, which picked up where his previous project Dead Leaves Rising left off. As DeRosa’s interest in classic country songwriting eclipsed his interest in goth/dark folk sounds, PHR became the outlet for those songs.
Pale Horse and Rider’s first recorded output can be heard on The Alcohol EPs (Silber Records, 2002), a split release with Remora and Rivulets. These songs were rough, acoustic demos recorded in his Brooklyn apartment on a borrowed 8-track cassette recorder.
DeRosa continued to write and hone his songs, and in the Summer of 2002 recorded PHR’s debut full-length album These Are The New Good Times (Darla Records, 2003) in the decommissioned Sacred Heart Church in Duluth, Minnesota with the help of Low’s Alan Sparhawk. The church’s natural acoustics and reverb were thoroughly utilized, offsetting the very “urban” nature of DeRosa’s songs. Sparhawk contributed vocals to the album, while additional vocals and instruments were contributed by Nathan Amundson (Rivulets), Charles Newman (Flare) and future bandmate Marc Gartman.
After the album’s release, DeRosa began playing and writing with Marc Gartman back in New York City and eventually joined Gartman’s band (Marc Gartman Band) for live performances. This band featured Gerald Menke on pedal steel guitar and Mike Pride on drums.
When the time came to record a second PHR album, DeRosa enlisted the band to record with him, and asked Gartman to share songwriting duties. The band traveled to Shelbyville, Kentucky to record with Paul Oldham (Palace Brothers, et al). The result of these sessions was the album Moody Pike (Darla Records/Agenda Records, 2004).
A drastic departure from the sometimes-fragile acoustic sounds of the first album, PHR was now a driving 4-piece barroom rock band that somehow still maintained the sensitivity and insightfulness of both songwriters’ earlier works. DeRosa and Gartman trade off nearly song-for-song, and their distinct styles are clearly marked; DeRosa opting for the urban, and focusing on the recklessness of youth, Gartman coming from a more pastoral and introspective place.
After the release of Moody Pike, the band largely scattered to the winds to focus on various respective projects. While DeRosa never officially ended Pale Horse and Rider, the band has not been active since 2006.
Pale Horse and Rider Selected Discography
Moody Pike CD / Darla Records (US)/Agenda Records (UK) / 2005
These Are The New Good Times CD / Darla Records / 2003
The Alcohol EPs CD / Silber Records / 2002 (w/Rivulets and Remora)
Dead Leaves Rising was the project born from the ashes of DeRosa’s first musical project Fade, which was active from 1993-1995 while he was still in high school. He released two cassettes under this moniker, 1993’s Pale, Broken Truths and 1995’s Windows, and performed his first concerts in New York City. Musically, it can best be described as minimal dark folk.
Musically, DLR showed a complexity and an aggression that was absent in all of the Fade material, which tended to be passive and mournful. The acoustic guitar still served as the basis for all songs, but DeRosa’s classical training and appreciation of the studio environment led him to experiment with layered guitars, other instruments and collaboration with other players. He drew influence from bands on the Projekt Records label, (Lycia, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Thanatos, Love Spirals Downwards and Eden) as well as the 4AD label, meshing darker atmospheres with the folk music he grew up with.
DLR’s first album Shadow Complex was recorded from September 1996-January 1997, at Waterlands Studio in Colts Neck, NJ. DeRosa funded the project through part-time jobs during his senior year of high school and released the CD on his own Brighter Records imprint in June of that year. It was limited to 500 copies on matte art paper, hand-assembled, and included a comic that DeRosa drew. DeRosa made up the term “shadow complex” to describe the social phenomenon he saw in a lot of his (often older) friends and acquaintances: 20-somethings from affluent upbringings with college educations, doing hard drugs and looking for reasons to be miserable. As someone who grew up feeling extremely detached, he couldn’t imagine why someone would want to “portray” that mood as glamorous, as those in the gothic community had.
In the years that followed, DeRosa began his ambient/guitar project Aarktica, released a cassette of downtempo ambient/electronic music as Still, joined the NYC chamber pop ensemble Flare, and graduated from NYU. It wasn’t until 2001 that DeRosa released the second and final DLR album Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of No One on Plow City Records. This release displayed DeRosa waning from the brooding, gothic sounds of the first album, and toward a folkier, dark indie rock sound.
Label problems plagued the release from the start, and the album fell largely into obscurity. Frustrated and now involved in other projects (Aarktica and Flare), DeRosa laid the project to rest in 2002.
Dead Leaves Rising Discography
Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of No One CD / Plow City Records / June 2001
Shadow Complex CD / Brighter Records / June 1997
Dead Leaves Rising compilation appearances:
The Power Of A New Aeon 2CD / Palace Of Worms (Italy) / 2000
Track: The Melancholy of Everything Completed
A Cat-Shaped Hole In My Heart CD / Projekt Records / 1999
Track: In The Snow
Americana: A Tribute To Johnny Cash CD / Irregular Records / 1998
Track: Ballad Of A Teenage Queen