Utopioid is Rosetta’s sixth full-length release, but most importantly, this is their third release as a fully independent outfit. Rosetta have been around since 2003, though they only chose to go independent in 2013, indicating that this Philadelphia post-rock group have entered a new, prolific era triggered by their newly found creative freedom. Unbound from the industry’s shackles, Utopioid clocks in at over an hour. Building a great wall of sound, Rosetta weave their way through subtle, atmospheric guitar work that grabs the listener’s attention devoid of all pleasantries.
Rosetta aren’t afraid to play up to certain genre tropes; hence, Utopioid begins with an instrumental track entitled ‘Amnion’. This opening sequence sets the general tone of the entire album, with sleepy, clean guitars plucked and strummed in an almost hammy minor key. Following the introduction, ‘Intrapartum’ provides us with the first vocals of the album - with the whole band harmonising in tones of “ahh”. At this point, I feel a little concerned that I am in for an hour of corny self indulgence; I like my post-rockers to be suitably ashamed of their very nice voices, burying them deep in the mix. Which, to my delight, is exactly what happens next, but the melodies belie a real prog influence.
From the third track onward, the listener can gain a much clearer picture of the album, given its lack of genre-defining characteristics, and from hereon out, we are able to hear the real fruits of Rosetta’s creative freedom, as ‘Neophyte Visionary’ falls yet further from the post rock tree, seemingly channeling Gojira-meets-Opeth melodic metal. These first three tracks set the range for Utopioid, and as Rosetta glides gently from wall to wall, it becomes seamless.
‘Détente’ is the next highlight on the album. Given the gift of a real drum groove that pulses through the song, letting the guitars breathe and the melody take centre stage, this track stands out as being a bit of a departure from the norm, and in its cleaner moments sounds more akin to Scandinavian bands like Mew than remaining true to their East Coast hardcore roots; however, the melting pot of Utopioid only adds to the scope and range of Rosetta’s creative vision.
‘Hypnagogic’ could be considered a little long at nine minutes, particularly as it is essentially a ballad, while the tail end of the album doesn’t feel quite as developed as the first two thirds, but that is really not a bad average for such an ambitiously long, wide-ranging and complete piece of music. Utopioid earns the time it takes to listen to it, and Rosetta appear to be enjoying something of a purple patch in creativity.
Highlight Track: ‘Détente’
Released September 1st, 2017