Friday, February 22, 2008

Neptune - Gong Lake

Neptune playing at Magpie's first Recraft Fair in Somerville.

Neptune opening for the Ex Models at T.T. The Bears.

I've seen Neptune perform live quite a bit over the past couple of years and most of the stuff they've been playing at their shows was material from Gong Lake. Only being able to hear these amazing songs at one of their shows was frustrating to say the least, so I've really been looking forward to this record.

For those unacquainted with Neptune, let me introduce you. Quoting the back of their new record, "It's three members are equal parts musicians, sculptors, scientists, blacksmiths, electricians, and industrial machinists." All of their instruments are created from scratch. Their guitars weigh 40 pounds, one of which has a curved blade on the end of it, and the drummer uses circular saw blades as cymbals. But as far as traditional instruments go, that's the end of it. Everything else is something completely new and different form anything you've seen before. One of my personal favorites is a long box covered with light switches and each switch makes it's own unique electronic buzz when turned on.

Neptune's release of their new album is a momentous occasion, which is probably why they celebrated their CD release party at Great Scott by covering their equipment and stage with foliage and passing out cake to everyone at the end of the show. The reason they're celebrating is because Gong Lake is a fantastic album and it's their first ever unlimited release. Neptune has been around for quite a while, putting out almost 2 dozen limited release recordings and gathering a significant fan base. But now they're ready for the big time.

Gong Lake is possibly their most accessible work to date, which isn't a bad thing, because it's also possibly their best. Unlike previous releases, these songs were written together to create a cohesive album. This album flows like none of their others have and it makes for a very pleasant experience. The songs they craft are harsh and abrasive but also really catchy. The choruses and melodies found throughout will stick in your head for days and you'll still be drumming your pens on the counter a week after you've listened to it. Maybe the best comparison that can be made would be to think of Einsturzende Neubauten trying to get the kids who wear nothing but black to dance.

Neptune's new album isn't flawless (and what record is?) but almost everything about it is awesome. My only real problem with it is the song Black Tide. To me, it sticks out like a sore thumb because none of the other songs sound anything like it. It's like ambient droning doom with bouts of dominating percussion while the singer, um, sings. The music in the song is fine but there's something about the way he sings, it just reminds me of some cheesy music I used to listen to in high school.

If you've never listened to Neptune before, Gong Lake is the perfect introduction to them. And if you know and love Neptune but haven't picked up Gong Lake yet, make sure you do it soon because you'll be more than happy with the results.

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