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projekt records: Aarktica: Morning One 2023 remaster

A remastered expanded edition of the long out-of-print Morning One, available for the first time digitally.

On the original 2001 release, Aarktica (aka Jon DeRosa) explored ethereal shoegaze balladry and surreal ambient guitar excursions. For this expanded edition, three unreleased tracks from that era shine a light on additional facets of their burgeoning sound with cloudbursts of “beautiful noise” and minimal guitar drones.

Morning One — released shortly after their debut No Solace in Sleep (2000) — illuminates a transition from pure guitar ambient to the atmospheric drone pop hybrid sound that became their trademark.

“In many ways Morning One is the ‘missing link’ in the catalog,” says DeRosa. “It’s an important release for me, a transitional release, from a time when I was really feeling out what I wanted Aarktica to become. I was influenced by bands like Flying Saucer Attack, Slowdive and Mogwai, but I was also a composition student studying Indian classical music with La Monte Young and becoming more interested in how to create ambient textures in a compositional way. I was listening to composers like Ingram Marshall and was so in awe of his ability to bridge the ambient/electronic world into that of modern classical. And in much the same way, I was listening to bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor! who were doing very much the same but in reverse.”

These influences are noticeable on the unreleased bonus track “Drone on a Theme By Thomas Tallis,” a response to Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.” This fuzzy and noisy interpretation of the original Tallis melody develops through layered, overdriven electric guitars creating tone clouds and layered drones with hints of the harmonic structure peeking through.

In “(Less Than or Equal To) 23,” DeRosa incorporates sampled voice over atmospheric piano, glockenspiel and minimal guitar; while on the title track “Morning One” he performs a composed “duo for strings” on sustained electric guitars, sounding more like organs, to surreal floating effect. The jewel in the crown is the leadoff track “These Days Fail To Bring Me Near,” one of Aarktica’s most sublime songwriting moments; it’s a soaring psych-shoegaze ballad and the first track in their catalog to feature vocals. Included is a 2002 remix by Aaron Spectre (aka electronic artist Drumcorps), a seductively downtempo version with darkly danceable beats and hammered dulcimer.

“When I think back, I remember Morning One introduced Aarktica to John Peel,” muses DeRosa. “It originally came out on a UK label. It reached him, and I remember the delight in tuning into the BBC via the internet one afternoon (a very novel thing at the time) and hearing his praise for ‘These Days Fail…’ before playing it.”

Press for the 2001 release:

The Assistant: With the second Aarktica release, dronemeister Jon DeRosa ups the ante for like-minded acts by increasing the complexity and the surface tension without succumbing to aural clutter or bravado. Detailed and precise, each gesture (crisp glockenspiel; histrionic, heartbreaking voice-over, slow-creeping glacial guitar) assumes a weighty dignity and dramatic resonance too often absent in such minimalist fare. Though brimming with pathos and despair, Morning One is transcendent. Those who fail to succumb to its great beauty have hearts of stone if, indeed, they possess hearts at all. — Martin Lombardy

Delusions of Adequacy: “These Days Fail to Bring Me Near” starts off, and it’s an absolutely gorgeous song. Very quiet, the basic elements are DeRosa’s hushed voice, some lightly strummed acoustic guitar, and then those washes of sound, creating a wall of ambiance that blankets the whole aural soundscape of the track. It’s as if you took your favorite slow-core song and wrapped it in a tight, warm blanket of sound. The addition of vocals to the style is quite good, and I’m constantly amazed by the beauty of this song with every listen. Although I’m not often a fan of more ambient, atmospheric music, anything done with originality and talent will sit well with me. DeRosa takes a unique approach to his electronic project, managing to mingle the enveloping ambient background with piano, tape, and guitar — and even vocals — to create something that ends up sounding quite powerful and adventurous. — Jeff Marsh

Track Listing:

  1. These Days Fail to Bring Me Near
  2. Drone on a Theme By Thomas Tallis
  3. Morning One
  4. These Days Fail to Bring Me Near (Aaron Spectre remix)
  5. (Less Than or Equal To) 23
  6. Slept Through Christma