Review Summary: A bravura achievement from a worthwhile noise band that takes notable nods from pop, hip-hop, rock, post-rock, and avant-garde music.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has stood the test of time, and shown the power of ingenuity through the perspective of a commited science student named Victor Frankenstein who wishes to create an animated creature. Creating said creature via an assortment of corpses and their stolen anatomical structure shows this ingenuity, just as Neptune and their hand-crafted instruments do. Created out of antiquated machinery, scraps of metal and plastic parts (made most notably out of circular saw blade, gas tanks, oil drums, bike parts, VCR casings, and miscellaneous scrap metals) Neptune began as a student art project by Jason Sanford (baritone guitar, electric thumb piano, electronics, small electric spring, and vocals) back in 1994. And though the early melodies were atonal due to primitive instruments, Gong Lake
is proof of the progression that has taken place throughout Neptune's approximately fifteen year life span.
Rather than said atonal melodies, the band has upgraded their instruments to provide traditional rock music with an aural stylization that brings literal meaning to the term “industrial music.” Tracks like “Copper Green” continue to drone on and on, and expand on said drone with homemade electronic noises (made via electric lamellophones) that add a vivid spice to the aural mix with great resplendence and impact. This testament to their progression continues on “Grey Shallows” which allows soughs to become a new manifestation of the aforementioned testament towards aural progress. However, these soughs almost distract the listener from the true treat that is taking place, and intrude on occasion. “Black Tide” however is the opposite, and allows Sanford's vocals to shine rather than grow dull. The nebulous atmosphere that overhangs like a dismal shroud of gray allows other tracks like the seedy “Yellow River” to follow the same fate as “Black Tide” with its portentous, bouncy groove chock full of hip-hop reminisce seen primarily in the tracks ebb and flow akin to said genre. And whilst tracks like “Purple Sleep” and “Red Sea” show the band's knack for atmosphere and subtlety, the band also shows that they can play fantastic rock tracks with strings that relate to normalcy (see: “Paris Green” and “Blue Glass”). This all shows that no matter what style of music the band executes on this aural outing, they execute it to near-perfection.
is a steady manifestation towards what music can be: a musical thrill that is as innovative with the physical craft of the music as is the aural experimentation itself. The industrial soundscapes are as industrial as the makeshift instruments, or the sharp angles the creations make. This album is as intriguing and as spectacular as their phenomenal live shows which emphasize performance art and improvisation as much as this album emphasizes pop-sensibilities, an avant-garde approach to music, and states of noise that resemble a fugue, droning incessantly and bringing a cavalcade of lush electronics to the spotlight. Hopefully this will stand the test of time and be as praised as Frankenstein in the future, because Neptune is a musical visionary, almost never exhibiting a flaw or defect, like a diamond that has escaped its rough. In fact, that analogy is quite apposite towards Neptune's Gong Lake
. The heaps of progress (and scrap metal) that has been a part of Neptune's musical career is astounding, and shows how atonal rumblings can transform into musical delight.