Review: Aarktica - In Sea (2009) / In Sea Remixes (2010)


In Sea

artist: Aark­t­ica
release: In Sea / In Sea Remixes
format: CD, CD
year of release: 2009, 2010
label: Sil­ber
dur­a­tion: 56:03, 73:05

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com [1, 2]

Jon DeR­osa returned to Sil­ber Records with Aark­t­ica last year, releas­ing a new album entitled In Sea. This album of calm gui­tar ambi­ent, drones, and a couple of songs, was sub­sequently tackled by a host of guest artists, who remixed each song of the album in turn, cul­min­at­ing in three altern­at­ive ver­sions of Aarktica’s mag­ni­fi­cent cover of Dan­zig’s “Am I Demon?”. The bal­ance between the ori­ginal and the remix album is per­fect, and as such, both deserve a place in the spot­light here in turn.

In Sea is my intro­duc­tion to Aark­t­ica, but it turned out to be a very pleas­ant one. The strength in DeRosa’s approach to music is the com­bin­a­tion of sim­pli­city and refine­ment. His melod­ies and chord waves in gen­eral have a calm, relax­ing sound, appro­pri­ate to the album title, and some­what remin­is­cent of Dirk Ser­ries’ recent work on 3 Second of Air and Micro­phon­ics. The mourn­ful sounds of the open­ing track set a some­what somber (but beau­ti­ful!) tone for the start -  a ver­sion with a great anim­ated video by Karo­lina Waclawiak can be seen on you­tube. How­ever, the moods shift through the second track, and the uplift­ing vocal on “Hol­low Earth The­ory”, which sees DeR­osa intro­du­cing a more rhythmic approach as well. The whole album stays afloat on this subtle bal­ance of moods and sound tex­tures, with the cent­ral high­light being the incred­ible drone­work of the title track. Spe­cial men­tion also goes to the afore­men­tioned Dan­zig cover. The ori­ginal, a pound­ing proto-metal track, is trans­formed into a brood­ing and per­fectly pro­por­tioned vocal ambi­ent track that pushes the album to new heights at the very end.

In Sea Remixes

This year saw the release of the com­pan­ion remix album, simply entitled In Sea Remixes. This well-stocked appendix con­tains some very fine mater­ial as well, espe­cially since all these dif­fer­ent remix­ers bring their own influ­ences to the board, which res­ults in a broad and access­ible album that retains a great deal of the unique atmo­sphere of the ori­ginal. The basic line is still ambi­ent of course, as is illus­trated by Rameses III’s relax­ing rendi­tion of “I Am (The Ice)”. How­ever, it is when these new influ­ences shine through that the strength of this album comes to the fore. A per­fect example is Mason Jones, adding subtle drums and treat­ments to “In Sea”, tak­ing the track to a dif­fer­ent, but equally bril­liant plane. Idem the Planar remix of “Young Light”, where min­imal rhythms and newly added female vocals evolve the song bey­ond its ori­ginal form. Of course, not all of these remixes are as remark­able as these, but the gen­eral flow of the album is pre­served excel­lently. It ends, as men­tioned with a trio of remixes of “Am I Demon?”, each of which is more than worth­while. The Declin­ing Win­ter add a cold, windswept touch to the song with some strings and addi­tional vocals. The one by Suck­ers goes for a min­imal beat and sub­dued dis­tor­tion of the ori­ginal vocals, res­ult­ing in a quirky, muted new ver­sion. The Land­ing remix, finally, opts for a sim­pler approach with delays and reverbs, deliv­er­ing a slightly more dreamy rework­ing.

Of course, In Sea is the basic album here, but both CDs can really be listened or bought sep­ar­ately, as they con­tain ample mater­ial to delight a broad spec­trum of listen­ers - ambi­ent, exper­i­mental, inde­pend­ent rock, drone. How­ever, as a pair they are even more ful­filling, so it is cer­tainly worth it to pur­chase both if my above words soun­ded con­vin­cing enough. Regard­less, Aark­t­ica is a name that is on my watch­list from now on.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­lists:

In Sea
1. I Am (The Ice) (3:54)
2. LYMZ (4:46)
3. Hol­low Earth The­ory (4:46)
4. A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Dia­monds) (8:10)
5. In Sea (3:54)
6. Onward! (2:40)
7. Young Light (3:02)
8. Autum­nal (3:14)
9. Corpse Reviver No. 2 (8:00)
10. Instill (3:32)
11. When We’re Ghosts (4:07)
12. Am I Demon? (5:58)

In Sea Remixes
1. I Am (The Ice) (Sky Burial Remix by Rameses III) (4:04)
2. LYMZ (Slicnaton Remix) (5:58)
3. Hol­low Earth The­ory (Sum­mer Cats Remix) (4:21)
4. A Plague Of Frost (In The Guise Of Dia­monds) (Al Qaeda Remix) (8:08)
5. In Sea (Mason Jones Remix) (4:34)
6. Onward! (Yellow6 Remix) (4:08)
7. Young Light (Planar Remix) (4:45)
8. Autum­nal (Keith Can­isius Remix) (5:01)
9. Corpse Reviver No. 2 (ThisQuietArmy Remix) (5:47)
10. Instill (Remora Remix) (4:14)
11. When We’re Ghosts (James Duncan Remix) (6:43)
12. Am I Demon? (Declin­ing Win­ter Remix) (4:53)
13. Am I Demon? (Pan/Suckers Remix) (4:31)
14. Am I Demon? (Land­ing Remix) (5:58)