NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM
Éons


4.5
superb

Review

by tectactoe USER (3 Reviews)
July 7th, 2020 | 103 replies


Release Date: 06/26/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If supermassive black holes could talk.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey opens with two and a half minutes of an unpunctuated black screen and only the slow crescendo of ”Kyrie” from Ligeti’s Requiem to indicate that the film has indeed begun. And while orchestral overtures were all the rage in late–Golden Era epics (see also: The Ten Commandments; Ben-Hur; Spartacus; West Side Story; Lawrence of Arabia; Cleopatra; Doctor Zhivago, et al), one gets the sense—from the chilling reverberation as that twenty-man polyphony reaches its climax—that Kubrick had more in mind that simply “setting the tone.” Theorists have long argued that this opening gambit is not a traditional overture, but that we, the audience, are meant to be staring into a monolith—as the primates and astronauts in the film would eventually find themselves doing, accented by the same, haunting arrangement—which effectively represents the beginning of our subconscious journey; that is to say, the audience’s spiritual rebirth.

Whether you buy into that sort of crackpot posturing is entirely your prerogative and, as expected from an artistic maven of such caliber, Kubrick neither confirmed nor denied any hypotheses regarding the film’s lightless introduction, leaving the world to subsist on mere speculation, thereby ensuring that any argument will always carry with it a sliver of credibility, however infinitesimal, in the absence of outright disavowal. I’m not sure if getting older has softened up my speculative synapses, or if my gradual coagulation toward a standardized family-man has heightened my predilection for buying into anything remotely outre as a means to engender excitement and novelty from unorthodox sources, but every few years when I inevitably revisit 2001, I find myself more readily accepting of the meta-interpretation that I’m about to undergo an odyssey of incorporeal enlightenment alongside the organisms in the story—a notion that I’m certain nineteen-year-old me would’ve thought risible and ineffably pretentious. Such is life.

All that is to say: I’ve listened to Neptunian Maximalism’s Eons somewhere in the ballpark of five or six times in the past week (which doesn’t sound like a major achievement in and of itself, but totally is when you consider my generally short attention span and the album’s mammoth length) and each time as the opening saxophone blares of ”Daiitoku-Myoo no Odaiko” commence - followed shortly thereafter by an obfuscated assortment of rhythmic, percussive pounding and double-time hand-claps - the notion that wafts across my pea-sized cranium is that if someone were to cobble together a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey for contemporary audiences with updated arrangements and structuring (which they absolutely should not do, by the way; this is merely a hypothetical assessment), this album could very well serve as the soundtrack for the whole film. It’s the type of towering monument that clandestinely permeates your consciousness, the kind of enriching orchestration that seeps into the margins of your soul where it’ll take up residence for eternity.

Despite how unnecessarily highfalutin I believed my own personal appraisal of this piece of work to be, I was shocked - though maybe I shouldn’t have been? - to find that the band themselves have constructed a contextual narrative for Eons, transcribed as such: ”By exploring the evolution of the human species, Neptunian Maximalism question the future of the living on Earth, propitiating a feeling of acceptance for the conclusion of the so-called ‘anthropocene’ era and preparing us for the incoming ‘probocene’ era, imagining our planet ruled by superior intelligent elephants after the end of humanity…The ambitious album trilogy of ‘Eons’ is a musical experience of gargantuan proportions where each chapter is part of a fascinating ritual, a cosmic mass of light and darkness…” Again, I can feel nineteen-year-old me’s eyes rolling back into his pop punk–obsessed skull, scoffing at the sheer magnitude of pontifical wankery before him. Even reading that description now, my reflexive impulse is to either wince or cringe: This is a stratum of aplomb and self-mythologizing that so few artists currently indulge in that when one of them finally does, everyone’s immediate response is ”settle the hell down, guys.”

But you know what? Piss on that. Because if even half of today’s music makers put this much effort and meticulous detail-sculpting into the various nooks and crannies of their work, maybe the crema of music charts everywhere wouldn’t be clogged up with the same, regurgitated carbon copies of mindless, proven success year after year. (On second thought, they probably still would; but the layers beneath the surface would be a lot more interesting and plump.) And, as jaded people often do, the thirtysomething in me sees not a troupe of pseudo-bohemian cadets hellbent on stroking their own egos until their skin is blistered down to the bone, but a collection of ambitious creators with an uncompromised vision and a boundless passion for carving out an iconography for themselves at any cost. When we really get down to the nitty-gritty, isn’t that what “art” is all about? Or are we meant solely to subsist superficial pleasures nowadays, cycling through new music packs of cigarettes, each chart-topper and buzz-worthy release occupying space in our frontal lobes for only a moment before recessing into the annals of obscurity forevermore; soulless, hollow, and bereft of anything legitimately “human”?

Of course, that high-wire act would be nothing doing if the musicianship balancing it out wasn’t either impeccably executed or sonically appropriate; here, it’s both. In spades. There’s no short supply of talent between the album’s four major accredited composers—Guillaume Cazalet, Jean Jacques Duerinckx, Sebastien Schmit, and Pierre Arese—who shuffle effortlessly through a toolbox that harbors everything from sitars and saxophones to electric guitars and bows to flutes and trumpets, never giving the slightest inclination that they aren’t in complete control. Two of the men are denoted as “drummers,” though that’s a reductive moniker; lost count of how many times I could hear percussion but had trouble readily identifying anything that resembled a “drum.” Vocal contributions range from deep, throaty growls to tonal, neo-Gregorian chants and various combinations therein. Clear touchpoints and influences include Sunn O))) and Swans on one hand, and Sun Ra and John Coltrane on the other. So: What the hell does this thing sound like? At the risk of coming off evasive and smarmy, the record sounds an awful lot like the cover—a surreal, shambolic painting by Kaneko Tomiyuku—looks, and I mean that in the best and most enthusiastic way possible.

To be a bit more descriptive, though, the largest and most general isobar is avant-garde jazz, only soaked in squid’s ink and constantly subject to severe electrostatic shock. But that barely scratches the surface of everything that Neptunian Maximalism explores: There’s a heavily progressive element to the whole thing; segments that induce a brutal dissonance; an overarching flavor of weighty psychedelia; segues of indigenous, tribal ambiance; and long stretches of colossal droning. Efforts to reduce this to any collection of standardized genre tags feels dangerously flippant, though, imposing a sort of predefined impotence that this album simply does not possess. And yet each of the three included discs—aptly titled “To the Earth,” “To the Moon,” and “To the Sun”—carries with it a distinct personality; no less internally sprawling in a vacuum, but distinguishable from their two brethren when viewed from a distance, traversing just as an excursion to the end of our species might: From increasingly entropic (Disc 1) to incessantly sinister and brutal (Disc 2) to meditative and cathartic (Disc 3). Even so, it’s a work that reflects on the intangibles: moods, impressions and temperaments. Dealing in absolutes is counterproductive, and it’s that quality - i.e., the watercolor assemblage of genres and references, the omission of clear limitations, the intent of categorization rendered futile - in lockstep with the zeal of establishing peripheral lore and submitting one’s self so completely to their craft to which I’ve responded so strongly. But no amount of circumlocutory proclamation can capture the experience of actually listening to this behemoth. So what are you waiting for?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
tectactoe
July 7th 2020


2999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Could not risk this masterpiece going any longer without a review and/or place for discussion. Certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but this thing is simply monstrous. Please please please if you have two hours to spare, don't neglect this beautiful beast.

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MrSirLordGentleman
July 7th 2020


13462 Comments


This seems awesome

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2020


26856 Comments


I was wondering if this was going to get a review

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brainmelter
July 7th 2020


7101 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea this was pretty cool need to hear again for a rate it’s thick

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MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2020


716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, love your work (though I think you have a better last phrase than "What are you waiting for?" In you!). Can't believe I've never heard that theory about 2001 before; I'm also old enough to buy into it.



I've been desperately trying to clear a 2 hour stint to hear this thing in full for my first listen. All of the descriptions have got me pumped as all fuck.

helperoni
July 7th 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really nice review! never heard of this. coincidentally i just got Clarke’s 2001 novel in the mail... this review makes me want to throw this on while reading it.

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tectactoe
July 7th 2020


2999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, gents. I can assure that all of the descriptors in the database couldn't properly prepare you for this atmospheric vortex.

@helperoni - I could imagine this being a fantastic spiritual soundtrack to Clarke's novel. (have you read it before? if not - you're in for a treat. absolutely amazing piece of writing.)

Deez
July 7th 2020


6520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fantastic review man.



Phenomenal record. I pre ordered this weeks ago off the one track and artwork. Should be here any day now I hope. The 3cd package looks amazing. Its right up there with the handful of AOTY candidates. An incredible album. I put it number 2 on a recent half way list and said as soon as sput gets hold of this peeps are gonna freak out.

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Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2020


20531 Comments


You madman! Incredible review!

I've been blue balling this since yesterday and I'm gonna let it out today.

Yay to cosmic orgasms!

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Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
July 7th 2020


20531 Comments


Also: "my gradual coagulation toward a standardized family-man"

Loved this descriptor of my life right now lol

tectactoe
July 8th 2020


2999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Deez; glad you’re loving the album. Not an avid album collector myself, but the packing of this looks scrumptious. I’d be curious to see what (if anything) is buried within the inserts.



Thanks Dewi—one of those very rare cases where an album struck so many personal grace notes that the desire to pontificate my love for it aloud finally outweighed my reluctance to write (erm, type) stuff down. I’m just glad we all have a place to talk about this bad boy now :o)



(And yes, I’m quickly learning that middle-age is a weird purgatory between being so young that you still feel like you have your whole life ahead of you take make important decisions and being too old to legitimately give a shit about anything worthwhile, meaning most of my days are spent anxiously worrying about everything I’m currently not doing that I probably *should* be doing, but feeing to stressed to ever actually do those things.)

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
July 8th 2020


20531 Comments


Dude same here, first kid coming in September and I feel a vortex of happiness plus nihilism opening up ready to swallow me whole.

Deez
July 8th 2020


6520 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not a massive collector myself anymore man but had to cop it. Looked too intriguing not to. And there were only 300 I think. The same with the upcoming Imperial Triamphant I bought. Package looked Too good to pass up.



Congrats on your kid Dewi mate.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
July 8th 2020


20531 Comments


Cheers Deez!

bigguytoo9
July 8th 2020


789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's one hell of a record.

tectactoe
July 8th 2020


2999 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'Grats Dewi!! You're gonna love being a dad, and you will make an excellent father I'm sure. Nothing can truly prepare you for having that first baby, but that's part of what makes it so magical :^) [All I can say is enjoy every minute! Our son will be turning 2 in just over a week and it's honestly mind-blowing how the past two years have transpired in what now feels like minutes. "The days are long but the years are short," as they say.]

parksungjoon
July 8th 2020


21491 Comments


sweet review bro posd

helperoni
July 8th 2020


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“ (have you read it before? if not - you're in for a treat. absolutely amazing piece of writing.)”



not yet, i read rendezvous with rama a couple months back and looooooooooved it, so i’m really looking forward to it! a couple years ago i went to see 2001 at TIFF, what an amazing night that was, truly unforgettable experience

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
July 8th 2020


12759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is almost a 4/5 and "just" missed out on a spot on my half year list. Parts of this gets caught up in its own massiveness, not quite to the level of being self absorbed, but still.

dedex
July 8th 2020


4002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

sick rev, will czech whenever I've got a 2 hour stint

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