Rosetta - Wake/Lift (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Wake/Lift (2007)

Translation Loss

Rosetta began as ambitious a project as one could get with their debut, 2005's The Galilean Satellites. It was a double-disc album, with the first carrying the band's main heavy metal stylings and the other a more ambient tone; the two CDs had corresponding lengths and were meant to be played simultaneously, much like a slightly pared down version of the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka. Their followup here, Wake/Lift, is a much more straightforward approach -- aesthetically, at least. Musically, however, the album picks up from where their split with Balboa, Project Mercury, left off.

Wake/Lift does a bit to quell common comparisons to fellow post-metal mavens Isis, as the band have clearly been feasting on a diet of space and post-rock influences that take their sound to whole new levels (for a stunning representation of the latter, check out the climax of closer "Monument"). On the surface, it's not quite as engaging, immediate or stunning as the material on Mercury, notably in the occasionally more ambient moments of "Lift," which spans 14 minutes over three parts/tracks.

However, when Rosetta is on, they're on. Take opener "Red in Tooth and Claw": Only a dozen or so seconds into an hour-long-plus album, vocalist/sound manipulator Michael Armine is erupting with a cloudy, guttural growl that gurgles in the background and, when employed, remains in that position for Wake/Lift's entire duration. Its placement is fresh and attention-commanding, however, with the band's swirling, layered instruments creating a front-end cacophony.

Upon the completion of "Lift," the other half of the title kicks in. "Wake" is a masterful, throbbing piece that shows Armine continuing to roar over the gray mass, but here it pounds and swells in a slow march of a tempo that carries a different type of urgency than its track-mates. It's followed up by the album's longest, "(Temet Nosce)," an instrumental, oceanic washboard with the soft clamor of ringing guitars and distorted cymbal crashes that splash about the song.

Wake/Lift is a very strong and surprisingly absorbing record from Rosetta, a band who despite shortening their massive, forward-thinking visions, have created a record that perfectly conveys and floats the moods and colors of space, time and movement, whether they've intended it or not.