A Palette of Sonic Radiance: NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM - Eons Review

Innumerable elements coalesce into a composition of towering magnitude.

Words by Rohan (@manvsplaylist):

The latest offering of genre-shattering sonic experimentation from Italy’s (& the world’s) finest curators of extreme noise terror in the I, Voidhanger fleet comes courtesy of Belgian enigmas known as NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM, and their latest 3-CD album titled Eons (set to release 6/26/2020). It is an utterly stupendous journey into overlapping worlds of tribal rhythms, free-jazz psychedelia and sub-sonic low-end frequency reverberations.


The album sits perfectly among the slate of releases coming out on the I, Voidhanger label, having created its own unique universe of hypnotic sonic textures, and one that will be of inherent appeal to all the curiously wandering ears that willingly hunt down and consume all the output from this mind bending source of extreme experimentation.


Titled Eons, (note the plural sense of the word here) itself implying the concept of moving from one geologic era and into the next, this 3-CD spanning tome of sonic audacity sets out to explore the evolution of the human species beyond the anthropocene era (the current geologic time period that is human-influenced), and into a world of post-human existence that is ruled by superior intelligent elephants following the end of humanity. Go ahead. Re-read that premise. The concept alone is a wild, logic-shattering idea; coming to terms with this notion alone will begin to place your mind and ear on the necessary trajectory of the curious, to gravitate towards embracing the world of sounds that NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM employ to maximum effect to explore the transition into the earth’s next phase.


This journey is undertaken by a multi-dexterous lineup of musicians that each command a wide variety of instruments, that come together as one almighty drone orchestra. Spearheaded by visionary multi-instrumentalist Guillaume Cazalet, the album features two drummers / percussionists, guitars, bass, flutes, sitars, trumpets, baritone & sopranino saxophones, synths & chanting, haunting vocals. As self-described “cultural engineers”, the group take in a wide variety of global influences in their own hypnotic, vividly warped and experimental way.


The sheer expanse of the universe the band creates and inhabits must truly be experienced to be believed. It is a wild ride, as adventurous as it is ambitious. Don’t shy away from the notion of a “free-jazz” album. Yes - there is an improvisational jazz feel to certain parts of the album, and saxophones and other wind instruments play at times a focal role in the compositions, but the album overall contains more of a jazz spirit than any other notion in the traditional sense. Overwhelmingly, Eons focus is more heavily tilted towards tortured tribal rhythmic repetitions, mystic percussion textures, and elaborately drawn out psych-jams. Imagine for a moment the expansive build-ups of GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR, merging with the drawn-out dirgey textures of EARTH at their feedback laden best, colliding with the middle-eastern influences of SECRET CHIEFS THREE or OM; and that only begins to describe the tenor of the first of three distinct passages that span this sprawling 3-disc set. Other influences or points of reference found within this universe include the low-end drone rumblings akin to Sun 0))) and their pursuit trance-inducing, sub-sonic frequency catharsis, and adventurous sax work in the vein of contemporary trail blazer Kamasi Washington, albeit with a far darker & sinister sounding approach.


Beyond these references, any attempt to try to describe an individual track or chapter in the album, or its variety of sounds, textures and landscapes would be entirely futile. As a whole, Eons contains a stunning, broad arch, with each chapter (or CD) representing a slight shift in style, tone or approach. The atmosphere, similar as mentioned earlier to other I, Voidhanger titles, is fascinating, unique and subversive. For those with a sufficiently adventurous spirit, a love for experiments in rhythm, tone & dissonance, NEPTUNIAN MAXIMALISM is a must to co-inhabit for several hours, dissolve into the dark rumbling baritone abyss, and give thought to a world of post-human existence. It’s a journey you won’t soon forget.

Eons arrives June 26th via I-Voidhanger Records. Pre-order your copy HERE.

Cover art by Kaneko Tomiyuki

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