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2020-07-06

NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM - Éons

Oh, this is going to be a quick one!

There are certainly albums where you don't even know where to start with a review. This one however is super easy. So this will be quite a short write-up.




But before I get to it I can just as well misuse this place to talk a little about what has moved me musically throughout the last... let's say about ten years.

About a decade ago I slowly came out of a very long phase in which I hardly exposed myself to any new music and instead listened to maybe a handful of new albums a year - mostly of artists within my comfort zone who I was already following.
When you take a quick look at the frequency of me posting something in this blog during its first years, you will immediately notice that not only the total of entries has grown significantly since then, but also that it was all much more about photography.
Only at the point where I got consciously aware that I was beginning to invest much more time in widening my musical horizon, I decided to make this website part of my journey.

Interestingly enough even the most obscure or out there paths my ears went on since then have some kind of root in the early 1990s. I've always had a leaning to the kind of adventurous and left-field stuff under the umbrella of "an acquired taste", which frankly is a meaningless bullshit term for stupid people, who are too lazy to immerse themselves into unfamiliar territories - because ultimately every fucking taste that there is, is acquired.

However I don't want this to become neither a rant nor a George R. R. Martin novel, so here's just a quick spotlight on some of the sonic roads I found myself wandering on:

  • Obviously there's the whole Roadburn experience, which has helped to broaden my perspective in multiple ways and played an integral part in re-igniting and furthering my passion for new artists. Well, talk to any Roadburner you meet, you'll probably hear a similar story about the festival changing his/her life.
  • I've seen several bands for the first (and then sometimes second, third etc. time), which extended my knowledge about what music is able to do, be it the overwhelming Zeuhl of Magma, the big band free jazz excess of the Sun Ra Arkestra, the pummeling time-defying drone metal of Sunn O)) or the carthatic complete physical assault on ear and body that is Swans.
  • Bong washed over me with meditative drone doom, while Bongripper opened me to the most crushing power of the riff.
  • I've seen performances which went beyond just a good show to the category of lifetime experience. Laibach with RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra in Ljubljana or Bell Witch playing their whole 83-minutes song "Mirror Reaper" come to mind first.
  • I took a dive into both the oceans of post and psychedelic rock.
  • I finally became fond of various forms of black metal, especially if hey are distinctively raw or avantgarde.
  • Give me drone!
  • Give me ambient!
  • Give me saxophone!
  • Give me that honey from the bees who live inside the lion's skull
  • I let my brain be brutally boxed by heaviest Dead Neanderthals free jazz.
  • Speaking of jazz, I went down various tunnels of that rabbit whole (and still feel like I've just entered). Miles Davis, John and Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman...
  • Kamasi Washington impressed me with his audacity of releasing albums of colossal length, consisting of up to five LPs.
  • I fell in love with all kinds of orientalisms, Arabic and Indian influences, be it in the context of jazz (Yazz Ahmed, Konstrukt), psych rock (Kikagaku Moyo, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard) or the multi-genre darkjazz of most projects involving Jason Köhnen (The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, The Thing With Five Eyes...).
  • I... wait, you're getting tired?

Ok, I guess I could go on and on, but I accept that you're here to read an album review. So ok, I'll go back on topic. Here it is:





NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM - Éons (3CD) (2020)


Neptunian Maximalism is a Belgian project with multiple past and uhm... closer-to-present past live members, yet this album was performed by the core of four players:

Guillaume Cazalet on bass, baritone guitar, sitar, wind, wood, vocals, Jean Jacques Duerinckx on saxophones and with Sebastien Schmit and Pierre Arese not one, but two guys on drums and percussion.

Besides being musicians these dudes are also time-travellers who took a trip to the future to right now and then went back to create an over two hours long 3 CDs mammoth of an album based precisely on the corner stones I've just delivered in the introduction of this review!

All just for me to say that they delivered a perfect album which mashes together tons and tons of everything I love.

The three chapters of this journey all go in slightly different directions. "To The Earth (Aker Hu Benben)" introduces the general Sun Ra meets drone sound, with the jazz element in the foreground. "To The Moon (Heka Khaibit Sekhem)" gets more rhythmic and mythical while also adding lots of guitar shredding to the mix. And finally "To The Sun (Ânkh Maât Sia)" is a full-on transcendent magnum opus dronum.

I won't say that Neptunian Maximalism necessarily beat any of my examples above in their respective style or speciality, but the bold way in which the band piles all these pieces together to a ginormous mountain of all-encompasing grandeur that offers you so much to discover is absolutely amazing.

All songs have multilingual boa-constrictor titles, the occasional vocals obviously speak, screech and chant in an imaginary "proto language". The whole thing of course has a trans-historic grand concept and a super bad-ass artwork and layout. 

That cover would surely be looking fantastic in vinyl format. But I get that would would probably be pretty expensive... [EDIT: It has been released on vinyl!]



"Éons" is easily one of my favorite albums of this year so far.

So yeah guys, your chrononautic sci-fi trick worked! Happy now?

Let's hope you didn't fuck up some timeline in the process.



Hmm... wait. We do live in the dumbest timeline, right?

Damn.



Yet however high the multiversal price for "Éons" might ultimately be, my verdict still stands:

Perfection.





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