"For us it is extraordinary! I always dreamt of going to Roadburn, but every time my studies or my job made it impossible."

At Roadburn, there is seldom a shortage of music that defies description, but Neptunian Maximalism exist in a sonic realm several steps beyond that. Last year’s extraordinary Éons album invited listeners into an entirely alien and exhilarating new world of sound, where ancient and ritual percussions and atmospherics collide with a densely lysergic strain of avant-garde doom, scorched-earth free jazz and an irresistible fog of tweaked-out spirituality. Unleashed on a stage, the possibilities for this utterly unique and amorphous ensemble are limitless. The BelgiansRoadburn Redux set is guaranteed to be a life-changer.

Dom Lawson

How have you adapted to our weird new reality over the last year? Any new challenges, in terms of being creative?

“Well, initially there was no real plan because the release of our album Éons was already planned before the lockdown. In addition to the many cancelled dates for some rather unique shows, we focused our energy on the idea of ​​doing more studio work. But it was definitely complicated, because some of our members are already in their 60s and must be careful! So we decided to take a break until Walter offered to let us play at Roadburn. We then spent three months working hard to prepare a new set. In the meantime, we are trying out recording sessions with different members. Basically, we split the entire orchestra to generate sub-groups and develop future songs as well. Otherwise, the pandemic gives me the time to go into more depth in the practice and theory of Indian music, which will strongly feed the rest, but with subtlety.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming Roadburn performance? And what does Roadburn mean to you, as creative people and on a personal level?

“For us it is extraordinary! I always dreamt of going to Roadburn, but every time my studies or my job made it impossible. For us it is an immense honour and a real recognition, which is heartwarming. We took this chance and pushed our limits to offer something live that technically we were not yet capable of. In Neptunian Maximalism, there are members still in their 20s, some very young practitioners of their instruments, up to members in their 60s whose instrumental practice is mastered, and its language developed. In three months, it’s a titanic job for seven to nine members to work on more intense and complex rhythms, more dynamics, more changes. In addition to rehearsals, it was necessary to train certain members behind the scenes to assemble a global choir. But we remain dependent on our limits despite everything (for example, our rehearsals are currently again amputated because of the new restrictions while we are approaching full finalisation). What we do will therefore be the best we could do with what was given to us. It may not be perfect, but the work and the heart will be there! Improv will do the rest, as usual. Oh, and we will be releasing a new live album, Solar Drone Ceremony on vinyl and DVD via I, Voidhanger Records on the day of the show. If you want more after the Roadburn show, go on Bandcamp for a full stream!”

Can you tell us about your favourite past experience(s) of Roadburn? Were there any shows that had a strong impact?

“Personally, having never been there, I rely on YouTube videos and live albums on Bandcamp. I can easily say that I have listened to Bong’s three shows at Roadburn a good 50 times! I love to share Mysticum’s video with my friends when they think they’ve seen it all in terms of a completely crazy live show. I regret so much that I couldn’t attend the Sleep concert when they played Dopesmoker. And so many others…”

What are your hopes and plans for the (hopefully post-pandemic) future?

“We hope for nothing, because as I usually say, while hope withered, the action bloomed. So we act in the present. If there is a concert, we are up for it! If it’s cancelled, okay, we keep moving forward on something else. Clearly the idea is to prepare a new studio album, which will take us one year or more. We have a lot of line-up ideas, collabs, theory to put into practice, improv laboratory workshops to train other members in autonomy and personal language in improvised music, and our personal projects, of course.”

What else are you looking forward to experiencing during Roadburn Redux?

“Unity for the group, to unite and strengthen our links, both human and artistic. Also, to help to be discovered, because some of us try to make a living from music, and what happens to us here helps a lot. And finally, to take up a perpetual challenge: the approach of the metal genre and doom through improvised music revealing the Anarchist character that occupies the minds of the members of the group and aims for each of us to achieve a certain freedom of artistic language, so that eventually there is the possibility of working and playing shows without direction. That may seem to be a Utopian ideal, but Anarchy has never hidden itself from its Utopian character: it asserts itself more as being a horizon line, a point of aim to be reached. This show will therefore be one of the many opportunities to show that regardless of age, level of practice, gender, origin, or musical influences, we can create together something that is intriguing and fascinating.”

Neptunian Maximalism will perform Set Chaos To The Heart of The Moon on Saturday 17 April at 1.00 CEST