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Neptunian Maximalism - Solar Drone Ceremony review

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Band: Neptunian Maximalism
Album: Solar Drone Ceremony
Release date: April 2021

01. Solar Drone Ceremony

It is only in the live setting where you can stretch a 16-minutes piece into a 52-minutes one.

Neptunian Maximalism shook the world last year with the massive triple album Éons. I'm not particularly sure how the jazz world reacted to that album, since it's much more of a jazz album than a metal one, but the metal world was in awe at the droning avantgarde jazz. I was in awe too. Naturally they were nay-sayers who called this "metalhead's first avantgarde jazz album", and I can kind of understand why. A lot of the jazz albums that I namedropped in my review aren't exactly that commonplace among metal fans, at least not to the extent that Éons' reach was. Naturally this isn't the first time that the metal and jazz worlds have met, nor is it necessarily the best one. Does that retract in any way just how massive and awe-inspiring Neptunian Maximalism's music is? Not one bit. If anything, I invite all who have discovered this branch of jazz through Neptunian Maximalism to dive deeper.

Solar Drone Ceremony isn't the first live album from Neptunian Maximalism, but it is the first one to be released after the band made it big with Éons' release. And akin to it, Solar Drone Ceremony is also released by I, Voidhanger records. So there's reason why comparisons to Éons feel natural, but there's still a big divide. Solar Drone Ceremony is a live recording of one song, which is a song from the The Conference Of The Stars EP from back in 2018. The recording was made in March 2020 in Brussels, before Éons' release. And, as stated, the original song is a 16-minutes piece. And here, in a live improvisational setting, it could be stretched in a way that the only way a studio can rival it is that time Type O Negative stretched Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" from 3 minutes to 7 minutes. But 52/16 > 7/3.

However, coming off a triple disc massive record, a 52-minutes one is somewhat of a change of pace. The entire package is more robust, but as a whole it is larger than any of the three discs, plus it being a single track makes it more cohesive, as much as the flow of any of Éons' discs was magnificent. It develops quite organically, each of its movements progressing naturally from its predecessor, moving with ease through mellow ambiance, droning distortion, dense crescendos, ominous chants, and psychedelic repetitions. There's a clear live feeling that admits some slight improvisational hiccups, as happens in live performances, but none that truly affect the immense flow of the piece. But because of how it is structured, it is still one piece, after all, so there's a lot of work needed to keep the momentum once the gears are in motion. With such a huge length, there's more need of immersion and less push for engagement. Rewarding for the patience and immersion, but exhausting if any of the two has its spell broken.

So the bottom line is "it is only in the live setting where you can stretch a 16-minutes piece into a 52-minutes one". Solar Drone Ceremony is a live album. But we're not listening to it in a live setting. It worked as it was played towards the people in the audience, but it loses some of its steam when played on Bandcamp to people in their home. But this is pretty much the biggest flaw, and for such a massive piece, it is still quite an achievement and an exercise in monumentality.

And due to how astonishing the album cover is, I have to embed the Bandcamp in such a way to fully show it:

Written on 09.05.2021 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 32 users
11.05.2021 - 10:27

I could totally see this being played in the early morning at Roadburn, just like that Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation set the year I went there, that had people tripping over their morning coffee and transcendental music.

I need more music like this, for some reason it really helps me focus when I'm working.

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