Aarktica – Matchless Years

Matchless Years

Jon DeRosa recently moved himself, and his band Aarktica, from NYC to southern California, but don’t expect a whole lot of sunniness to come shining through the moody, noir indie-rock on Aarktica’s new album Matchless Years.

Though moody, noir indie-rock is only a partial description of the music heard on the band’s 5th album. Drawing from the artful and atmospheric rock of some of the old 4AD bands like Breathless and This Mortal Coil, Aarktica create a similar sound and infuse it with some dark guitars, swirling in echo and reverb, that add gusto. But the gusto is tempered with plenty of reflective moments when the band mellows out and the arrangements open up. In ways comparable to Piano Magic and Dead Can Dance, Aarktica pour on a bit of melancholy with the use of cello, upright bass and seductive female vocals to smooth out the jagged guitars.

The Dead Can Dance and Breathless comparisons are not only heard in the music with Aarktica’s use of otherworldly percussion and tribal-like rhythms driving some of these shadowy anthems, but also in the vocals. DeRosa’s voice is rich in character and sounds like a cross between Dominic Appleton (Breathless) and Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance). But even as Matchless Years has a lot in common with the music of the aforementioned bands, it is a unique record that has bits of scruffy, electronic percussion and drum programs, along with some dreamy, ambient-flavored post-rock, for an overall sound that will tickle the fancy of the art-rock, shoegazer, and indie-rock fan inside us all.

The album can also be described as moody since the songs vary in their emotional intensity with opener “Seventy Jane” and “Happiness Boys” employing more driving rhythms with searing, raw guitars, in a kind of Joy Division way, that give way to more delicate and creative soundscapes on the tracks in between. There are even a couple of instrumental tracks like “Summer Tabla Dub” that employs a bouncy and reverbed dub loop with spacey guitars on top and “Rooftop Films”, a meditative number with ambient keyboard swells, strings and gentle guitar strums that mimic rolling ocean waves that wash gently upon the shore and then slowly recede.

Aarktica have blended their influences with their own sounds and have made a very original and accessible, yet artful, record of dark and melancholic indie-rock. Not the dark associated with goth, but more like dense cloud matter dark where the sun is almost shining through. Any way though, the aesthetic and atmospheric indie-rock on Matchless Years is a perfect companion for those days in your life when you need a glimmer of hope amid the despair.