“At first, Jon DeRosa’s Anchored EP, a quartet of gorgeously layered chamber-pop shanties, seems leagues away from the voluptuous Lovecraftian drift he perfected under his moniker Aarktica. But there are dark spaces here, too, room to brood in the sweet gravel of his voice, in Julia Kent’s penetrating cello lines, and in the quiet violence of the lyrics. With a depth that belies its brief running time, Anchored is so perfect that it literally gives you the chills.” Ed Park, Novelist
Jon DeRosa began releasing music under his own name in 2011, with The Anchored EP. While his work as Aarktica was largely lyric-less and guitar-based, DeRosa’s solo sound identity introduces a maturer and more confident artist, highlighting his rich, golden baritone atop lush, cinematic, noir-influenced chamber-pop arrangements.
On Anchored DeRosa is supported by an accomplished group of musicians including cellist Julia Kent and multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez (Beirut/Yellow Ostrich). The album was mixed by Charles Newman, best known for his work with The Magnetic Fields. It features a cover of “Submarine Bells” by The Chills.
DeRosa’s debut full-length release A Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes was released in the US on Mother West Records on limited edition vinyl in April 2012. In Fall 2012, DeRosa signed with Rocket Girl Records in the UK, and released A Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes digitally and on CD throughout Europe.
Aarktica was conceived in the winter of 1998 with Jon DeRosa’s permanent loss of hearing in one ear as a distraction from his other musical interests. As his hearing loss became less of a distraction and more of a new way of listening, Aarktica became a means to execute the soundtrack of the life in mono he now faced; one of audio distortions, aural hallucinations and a reliance on painkillers. The first album No Solace in Sleep (Silber Records, 2000) was a series of minimal guitar and tape compositions, glacially paced and effected, recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder in various NYU dorm rooms.
This release echoed across the Atlantic, and Aarktica soon released the Morning One EP on Ochre Records (UK) in 2001, gaining accolades and airplay from the venerable John Peel.
Soon after, Aarktica released Or You Could Just Go Through Your Whole Life and Be Happy Anyway, Bliss Out v.18 (Darla Records, 2002) and Pure Tone Audiometry (Silber Records, 2003). These releases combine lo-fi electro, noise and shoegaze with the ambient textures of modern composers like Morton Feldman and Ingram Marshall, defining Aarktica’s innovative drone pop hybrid. These were also the first Aarktica albums to feature guest musicians to realize DeRosa’s ultimate goal: to create drones and textures from the timbres of instruments, not solely from reverb units and delay pedals.
It was also during this time that DeRosa began his classical Indian vocal studies with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela. Their mentorship would be extremely influential to DeRosa and would affect all of his musical output, in every genre from this time forward. DeRosa also studied extensively with Michael Harrison, a former disciple of Young and Zazeela, and a composer specializing in harmonic tuning systems.
Aarktica’s fourth full-length release Bleeding Light (Darla Records, 2005) was an homage to New York City, in both its lyrics and compositions. DeRosa enlisted many friends and young NYC free-jazz luminaries (Nate Wooley, Seth Misterka, Mike Pride, Harry Rosenblum), forgoing the often glacial guitars, for a more chaotic, eerie and psychedelic sound.
After releasing the limited Ocean split 12″ with Aaron Spectre on Berlin’s Moonbunny Records, Aarktica relocated to Southern California in Summer 2007 and released its fifth album Matchless Years (Darla Records) in Fall 2007.
In Summer 2008, DeRosa moved back to Brooklyn, NY to work on the sequel to Aarktica’s 2000 debut No Solace In Sleep. The result was In Sea (Silber Records, 2009), a return to Aarktica’s original guitar/ambient sound. A particular highlight of this release is Aarktica’s cover of the 1988 Danzig song “Am I Demon?” which closes the album, and its accompanying video.
In 2010, Silber Records released In Sea Remixes, a limited release of 500 copies of the entire In Sea album remixed entirely by other artists. Remixers include Suckers, Declining Winter, Landing, Yellow 6 and Keith Canisius.
Aarktica continues to compose music for film soundtracks, and plans to release new material in 2013.
Aarktica Selected Discography
In Sea Remixes CD / Silber Records / February 2010 [limited to 500]
In Sea CD / Silber Records / September 2009
Matchless Years CD / Darla Records / November 2007
Live at KUCI (digital release) / Silber Records / 2006
Bleeding Light CD / Darla Records / January 2005
Pure Tone Audiometry CD / Silber Records / March 2003
…Or you could just go through your whole life and be happy anyway (Bliss Out V.18) CD / Darla Records / February 2002
Morning One CD EP / Ochre Records / 2001
No Solace in Sleep CD / Silber Records / July 2000