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Friday, May 07, 2010

CD Review: Rosetta - A Determinism of Morality

Rosetta - A Determinism of Morality
2010 Translation Loss
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Rosetta may not be Isis, Neurosis or Pelican, but as of now they are scary close.

The Philly art metal unit has been building promise alongside peers such as Mouth of the Architect, Balboa (with whom Rosetta shared a cool split EP), Cult of Luna and Long Distance Calling. Rosetta's 2007 output Lift/Wake was more of an announcement of this group's capabilities than their brow-raising debut The Galilean Satellites. Yeah, there may be another alt rock Rosetta in Michigan, but at this point, Broad Street's won the bragging rights.

Did anyone expect Rosetta to elevate themselves to the proportions they achieve on their latest album A Determinism of Morality? Seriously, Rosetta suddenly find themselves in a class equal to The Ocean and Red Sparowes this album is that good.

Would peeling the paint be declared an official art form, A Determination of Morality would lie somewhere between impressionism and expressionism. Their isolated fragments dotted, streaked and melded onto an aural escapist canvas, Rosetta has engineered an aerodynamic masterwork of ambient chaos.

Declaring a state of urgency with clambering drum flails by Bruce McMurtrie, Jr. which rolls and rolls and rolls on the opening number "Ayil," Rosetta seizes their audience's attention with massive shakes and throttles before wailing a sequence of ear-puncturing guitar tugs in a loud and shivery breakdown by J. Matthew Weed.

Weed brilliantly escorts rails of shoegazing guitar luminescence ala Kitchens of Distinction, My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Sonic Youth on "Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin" and other songs on A Determination of Morality before he and David Grossman stamp on their pedals and blast their immediate space to obliteration. Their tone-heavy anarchy is controlled by tranqulity as soothing heralds to the bombasts following their wake. When Rosetta amps up on this album, you freaking feel it.

"Blue Day for Croatoa" threads above a whisper upon a strong set of chord sequences and a sleek aura susurrating behind them. Rosetta barely turns up the urgency by the six minute mark yet never delivers a climax. Some may consider this a big-time cheat, but before the listener can cry foul, Rosetta thuds down a climax within the first tick of "Release." They hardly extinguish the intensity minus a swervy stabilization to allot for clean vocal foils against Michael Armine's customary woofing. In the final stanza of "Release," Rosetta turns on the brutality switch yet it's done in such grandiose fashion you can't help but surrender to the emotive mood shift. A ballsy maneuver on Rosetta's part to separate the songs with airs of tension and the suspicion of no payoff, but it works beautifully.

Rosetta plays within the precepts of drone, trance and ostinato yet only on the ten-minute title song do they emulate Isis' sculpture modes. Make no mistake, though; this band is pure alt at-heart, evidenced by the Cure and Siouxie-ish hypno-swoon during the opening of "Revolve."

Jesus and Mary Chain and Cure sprinkles are found throughout the dreamy "Renew," which soon erupts with gorgeous thunder, serving perfect justice to all of the delicate measures planted beforehand. Though you know the aggression is on its way, once Rosetta swings their clubs into action, they're so freaking wonderful you want to scream skywards with rapture. Better yet, Rosetta halts the boom of "Renew" after its momentary arrival, leaving a rare gimme more hankering. Fret not space cadet, for you're lifted, propelled and satiated in full on "A Determinism of Morality."

If this was Dancing With the Stars, it'd be goddamned hard not to pull up that elusive 10 paddle.

Rating: ****1/2

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