Rosetta – Terra Sola

Terra Sola does a neat job of connecting two running threads that I’ve been thinking about lately. The first is the experience of coming back to bands. I’ll be honest with you; I used to be a massive Rosetta but kind of fell away from them in the past few year. What is it because of a change in their music or a change in what I was looking for? Probably both. But regardless, their latest releases felt stifled to me, too busy and draped with this air of post-metal weight that I just wasn’t drawn to anymore. I had always liked the breath-y, “open” feeling that Rosetta sometimes I had and I think it has been replaced by ambiance in past releases, which is not really the same thing.

The second thread is post-rock and metal’s approach to climate change. Like 65daysofstatic, Old Solar, and others (which I discussed in depth in this post), Rosetta have decided to make Terra Sola about climate change. It takes a similar approach to some of these other releases by using the tension between lighter and heavier segments to try and communicate the complicated feelings one has when thinking about our dire future. Very interestingly, I think that it’s this aspiration or contrast that makes Terra Sola one of Rosetta’s best releases and that has brought back some of the elements which I have missed over the last few years. Mainly, it has brought exactly that balance between light and heavy, between somber and sparse, that I’ve been really craving for in their music and haven’t really been receiving as of late.

It would be wrong to divide this EP into two parts in this sort of investigation, as people are tempted to because of track naming and conventions. To be sure, the first track bears the release’s name and is much heftier than the other two tracks but I think that breathing them all in in one breath is the way to go here. “Terra Sola” the track takes its time to unfurl; it starts with a heavy, classically Rosetta passage, channeling the post-metal vibes that the band helped to invent to an accomplished degree. But there’s a lighter thread running through it, a certain guitar line and effect that adds an embellishment of melancholy and introspection to the whole thing. Once we get nearer to the track’s middle, more inspired and agile drums appear; in fact, I think this is one of Rosetta’s best drums lines ever and one of the best I’ve heard on a post-metal album recently. The drums expand on this lightness, drawing agile figures not just with their speed but also with their tone and almost caress like impact.

This drum line shifts the entire track around it and, suddenly, the melancholy and lightness is in the middle of it. The track expands on these ideas and ends with them, crucially setting up the stage for “57844” and “Where Is Hope?” which follow it. The former is more in communication with “Terra Sola” but also “speaks” with the similarly named “54543” from Utopioid. It almost “updates” that track, borrowing harmonic and melodic ideas from it and meshing them in with “Terra Sola” and its coda with the addition of beautiful, captivating vocals which elaborate on and flesh out the ideas presented in the previous track. The combo of light and heaviness is in full effect now; where “Terra Sola” first started with a punch and then allowed a softness to be born from out of it, “57844” stands in the warm light of that softness and explores it.

But it’s “Where Is Hope?” that truly stands out for me from the second half of this release; this acoustic, lo-fi track is truly something almost completely new for the band and it just works so well. The clever use of guitar tracks on it, the touches of reverb, the myriad noises that play in its background, the deep drums, and the evocative composition of the guitars, make it an incredibly complex and satisfying track. It works really well by itself, as a vibrant, lush, and alluring instrumental track. But it works even better in the context of the previous two tracks, fully affirming and completing the band’s journey on this EP.

This is what made me first fall in love with Rosetta, the sense of a journey traveled, and which, to my ears, was mostly muted as the band have experimented more with repetition, feedback, ambiance, and “size” over the last few years. But in this “smaller” EP, a “freer” release, there is a return to roots coupled with a taking of flight, and it is downright exhilarating to witness. If Rosetta can build on this sound and cast their nets as wide and as close as they have here, catching some of the musical and conceptual ideas which have always fueled their career, it’s safe to say that I’ll love whatever they do next.

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Rosetta’s Terra Sola was released on October 1st, 2019 (yes, we’re late). You can get it from the band’s Bandcamp page, linked above.

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Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.