Being that they are unapologetic disciples of Neurosis and Isis (whose leader, Aaron Turner, designed this album's lavish digipack artwork), one would naturally expect Philadelphia's Rosetta to have ambitious plans for their music. But, upon first listen, their two-disc 2005 debut, The Galilean Satellites, seems to add virtually nothing new to the complex cocktail of metal, hardcore, progressive rock, and ambient music (equal parts abrasive rumble and atmospheric shock waves) established by their inspiring predecessors. Disc one is marked by the familiar emotional tug of war between soothing, contemplative passages, keening melodies, dense harmonic layers, and utterly thunderous guitar chords -- usually topped with Michael Armine's anguished roars -- while disc two is more adventurous in its own way, concentrating on slow-morphing textures and aleatory sound effects that are, at any given time, ethereal, subsonic, industrial, intensely percussive, and predominantly instrumental, to boot. Neither disc feels entirely complete, since the first, for all its variety (and seismic highlights "Europa" and "Au Pays Natal"), is much too noticeably derivative of Isis' prior works, and the second is conversely too vague and unfocused, at best resembling minimalist efforts by Sunn 0))). Of course, the skeleton key to unlocking The Galilean Satellites is that both discs are actually supposed to be played simultaneously on two separate stereos -- or hadn't you noticed that each contains five epic-sized tracks of suspiciously identical length? That mystery solved, the true magnitude and depth of Rosetta's musical achievement is properly revealed in all its massive, wide-angle, panoramic glory -- although cynics and one-stereo owners might still charge that the band has simply split into two CDs what could very well have fit onto one. They are of course wrong because of the sheer physical response one experiences while standing inside the maelstrom of the album's pseudo-quadraphonic effect (or whatever the hell the proper technical term may be). In the end, it is this clever twist, which, in retrospect, seems like such an obvious experiment for this kind of music, that earns Rosetta a special place among their peers.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2