Rosetta Stone (band)

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Rosetta Stone
Origin England
Genres Gothic rock, post-punk, alternative rock, darkwave
Years active 1980s–1998
Labels Cleopatra Records
Expression Records
Minority / One Records
DEppressION Records
Futurity Records
Associated acts miserylab
Dream Disciples
Past members Porl King, Karl North, Porl Young

Rosetta Stone were a British gothic rock band formed in the mid-1980s by Porl King (guitar/vocals/keyboards) and Karl North (bass), plus their drum machine and synthesizer rack nicknamed "Madame Razor".

The band was named after the Rosetta Stone, an Egyptian historical artifact, and the band used much ancient mythological imagery, especially in their earlier work.

Their early style and first album reflected the jangly-guitar sounds of 1980s gothic rock,[1] and their first big break came after live gigs supporting the then already well-established band The Mission.


After playing live gigs locally and then nationally from 1988 onwards and releasing several independently produced singles to increasing popularity, Rosetta Stone recorded their first full-length album, An Eye for the Main Chance, releasing it in 1991. They also recruited Porl Young as a second guitarist and toured extensively to promote the album.

Following on from this, the band released their most successful single, the 12" Adrenaline. Porl Young subsequently left the band to produce Children on Stun whilst Porl King and Karl North released a cover version of The Rattles' 1970 hit The Witch which took the band into the UK top 40 singles chart.

The band went on to sign a US record and distribution deal with Cleopatra Records who released much of their early cassette and vinyl singles and EPs in 1993 as an album under the title Foundation Stones, and a CD album Adrenaline which, along with the title track, also featuring earlier singles such as An Eye for the Main Chance and The Witch. In the UK they released a CD album (on Minority One) entitled On The Side Of Angels, compiling previous vinyl singles and their various remixes.

Using the advance money for 1995's The Tyranny of Inaction, Porl King purchased an Alesis ADAT multi-track digital recorder, the use of which substantially changed Rosetta Stone's sound. That album and most subsequent work featured a much more industrial/electronic sound, with extensive use of sampling.[1]

Following an accident in late 1997, Porl King lost part of his left little finger, which changed his guitar style considerably.[2]

The band split in 1998 after releasing Chemical Emissions and a radical remix of Tyranny as a limited release CD gENDER cONFUSION and playing a final headlining live performance at the Whitby Gothic Weekend festival in October that year. Karl North went on to join the already-established UK band, the Dream Disciples (their next album Asphyxia notably featuring Karl's Rosetta-sounding bass), and their subsequent live performances attracted much of Rosetta Stone's most ardent UK fanbase.

Porl King produced one more album (contractually) of 80s new romantic cover versions under the name Rosetta Stone for Cleopatra Records. He then went on to be a remixer and producer, working for the likes of the Mercury Music Award -nominated Elbow and the Fluke side-project Syntax.

Current status[edit]

Porl King wrote and produced his own music for some years under the name Miserylab.[3][4]

In recent years, instead of working on the Miserylab project, King works on the solo project In Death It Ends since 2011.[5] The dark, foreboding nature of this project abandons prior interest in politics, and is connected with the witch house scene.

The Dream Disciples (Karl North) ceased to be active after their performance at Whitby Gothic Weekend in April 2004.

Porl Young was resident DJ at Heaven in London. He is co-owner of the Tuff Twins label, and has produced and mixed several club tunes.[6][7][8]


Rosetta Stone were one of the biggest names in the 1990s UK goth live circuit, due both to frequent and extensive early touring and to the successful independent promotion and sales of their records. Porl King was one of the few well-known goth musicians to contribute actively to online discussions with fans, for example on Usenet's uk.people.gothic newsgroup. Their dedication, successive tours and live appearances have gained them a solid fanbase - the most loyal followers became known as "Quarriers".[1]


Studio albums[edit]

  • An Eye for the Main Chance (1991)
  • The Tyranny of Inaction (1995, revised later that year with normalisation)
  • Chemical Emissions (1998, also includes new hidden bonus track "Plastic Toy")
  • Unerotica (2000, US-exclusive release with reformatted 80s Audio and cover versions of New Romantic classics)

Live albums[edit]

  • Under the Rose (1991, cassette only bootleg, re-released as a CDr in 1997)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Adrenaline (1992, US-exclusive compilation of singles and remixes)
  • On the Side of Angels (1993, UK-exclusive compilation of singles)
  • Foundation Stones (1993, US-exclusive compilation of early material)
  • Epitome (1993 EP, compilation of "Adrenaline" and "The Witch" remixes)


  • "Darkness and Light" (1989)
  • "Leave Me for Dead" (1991)
  • "An Eye for The Main Chance" (1991)
  • "Adrenaline" (1991)
  • "The Witch" (1992)
  • "Nothing" (1995)
  • "Hiding in Waiting" (1996, EP that is occasionally considered an album)

Demos / Fan Club Releases[edit]

  • Recreate and Emulate (1988, cassette only)
  • Whispers (1988, cassette only)
  • Chapter and Verse (1988, cassette only)
  • Retribution (1989, cassette only)
  • And How They Rejoice (1989, cassette only)
  • Gender Confusion (1998, CD, limited edition of 500, remixes from Tyranny of Inaction)

Tribute Albums[edit]

Project Albums[edit]

as Complicity (featuring members of Vendemmian, Altered States with production and keys/additional vocals from Rosetta Stone under the moniker wHATEver pRODUCTIONS)[10] Playing God (17 March 1997; CD album; UK, Grave News Limited - Catalog# FETISH 16)[11]


  1. ^ a b c Maisey (4 Oct 2010). "Under The Rose: Goth in the 1990s". Terrorizer’s Dominion. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  2. ^ Side-Line (8 July 2011). "Miserylab - 'This project is completely reliant on social media'". Side-Line. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  3. ^ Porl King. " (Official Site)". Carbon Neutral Digital. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  4. ^ Porl King. "miserylab (Official)". on Facebook. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Porl Young. "Porl Young (Official)". on Facebook. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  7. ^ Porl Young. "Porl Young (Official)". on MySpace. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Porl Young". on Discogs. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "wHATEver pRODUCTIONS". on Discogs. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Complicity – Playing God". on Discogs. 17 March 1997. Retrieved 19 May 2011.

External links[edit]