Dead Leaves Rising
Dead Leaves Rising was the project born from the ashes of Jon DeRosa’s first musical project Fade, which was active from 1993-1995 while he was still in high school. He released two cassettes under this moniker, 1993’s Pale, Broken Truths and 1995’s Windows, and performed his first concerts in New York City. Musically, it can best be described as minimal dark folk.
Musically, DLR showed a complexity and an aggression that was absent in all of the Fade material, which tended to be passive and mournful. The acoustic guitar still served as the basis for all songs, but DeRosa’s classical training and appreciation of the studio environment led him to experiment with layered guitars, other instruments and collaboration with other players. He drew influence from bands on the Projekt Records label, (Lycia, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Thanatos, Love Spirals Downwards and Eden) as well as the 4AD label, meshing darker atmospheres with the folk music he grew up with.
DLR’s first album Shadow Complex was recorded from September 1996-January 1997, at Waterlands Studio in Colts Neck, NJ. DeRosa funded the project through part-time jobs during his senior year of high school and released the CD on his own Brighter Records imprint in June of that year. It was limited to 500 copies on matte art paper, hand-assembled, and included a comic that DeRosa drew. DeRosa made up the term “shadow complex” to describe the social phenomenon he saw in a lot of his (often older) friends and acquaintances: 20-somethings from affluent upbringings with college educations, doing hard drugs and looking for reasons to be miserable. As someone who grew up feeling extremely detached, he couldn’t imagine why someone would want to “portray” that mood as glamorous, as those in the gothic community had.
In the years that followed, DeRosa began his ambient/guitar project Aarktica, released a cassette of downtempo ambient/electronic music as Still, joined the NYC chamber pop ensemble Flare, and graduated from NYU. It wasn’t until 2001 that DeRosa released the second and final DLR album Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of No One on Plow City Records. This release displayed DeRosa waning from the brooding, gothic sounds of the first album, and toward a folkier, dark indie rock sound.
Label problems plagued the release from the start, and the album fell largely into obscurity. Frustrated and now involved in other projects (Aarktica and Flare), DeRosa laid the project to rest in 2002.