By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – Amalgamated in 2003, Philadelphia’s dronecore specialists Rosetta spent a decade building the momentum required to achieve their ideal cruising altitude. The spacegazing band reached escape velocity in 2013 when they tore away from their record label to go it alone. About that same time the four sonic cosmonauts, guitarist Matt Weed, bassist Dave Grossman, vocalists/synth-player Mike Armine and drummer BJ McMurtrie welcomed guitarist Eric Jernigan to the Rosetta crew.
“I actually joined the band late, but I had been friends with the band for ten years, so we had a rich history together,” Jernigan relates.
“I would say that my role in Rosetta has been to help distill some of the melodic ideas that Matt or Dave will bring to the table and find the hidden hook that’s lying in wait.”
Rosetta’s stormy compositions vacillate between mindful contemplation and reckless abandon. The result is a volatile yet intriguing dark-matter meets doom-rock dynamic that is as attractive as it is indefinable.
“A lot of the early Rosetta stuff was equal parts melody and aggression, but sometimes they would sort of feel like a wave washing over you and the catchiness of it would only reveal itself after maybe a dozen listens,” Jernigan admits. “When I came into the band I wanted to make the melodic movements more obvious and still do a good job of hiding them.”
Designed as a quartered cycle of songs that stretches across hemispheres and genres, Rosetta’s sixth album, Utopiod, is perhaps the most thematically-driven milestone in the quintet’s discography. Components ranging from ambient synth to hardcore sludge converge to formulate Rosetta’s atmospheric anthems and stormy eulogies. Or, “metal for astronauts,” as they like to call it.
Jernigan says, “These days the influences are across the board. I think for all of us, the older we get the more interested we are in avant garde and non-traditional forays into a sort of exploration of emotion through sound rather than the typical rock band format.”
By Jernigan’s estimation the stress-energy tension Rosetta generates in the studio becomes exponentially magnified when presented in the flesh. Thrusting artifice aside in favour of exposing the raw nerves beneath the façade, Rosetta insists on letting moments unfold, and occasionally explode, according to their isotopic nature.
“Same as any given year of our lives, we have moments of unbridled intensity and hopefully moments of calm reflection and the record does follow sort of a protagonist through the character’s life and we wanted to keep that in mind – that there’s a whole breadth of experience that we all go through and we made a conscious decision to really let some of those quiet, less aggressive moments speak for themselves on the record.”
ROSETTA performs October 16 at the Brixx (Edmonton) and October 17 at The Palomino Smokehouse & Bar (Calgary) .Brixx, ROSETTA, The Palomino Smokehouse & Bar