NEAR EARTH ORBIT: Echoes Of The Future (Solar Lodge 2023)

NEO (aka Near Earth Orbit) are publishing their eighth album on April 21st: the third written solo by Artaud Seth, once Ashley Dayour decided to leave the band to focus on the other (also prolific) music projects. This Echoes of the Future (of course published by Solar Lodge) represents one more episode in that kind of futurist epopee, postapocalyptic and dystopic, it started already nine years ago with End of All Existence. However, despite the intentional projected to the subsequent portrait, it’s pretty contemporary. Climate change, artificial intelligence, war, repression, dehumanizing technology, deceiving advertising, metaverse… Are we actually talking about a really far future? Well, yes, the scale is now spatial and not terrestrial, the human species has survived the total extinction somewhat late, but the symptoms couldn’t be more coetaneous. The author’s edgy fangs couldn’t be more on point.

NEO (Mr. and Ms. Seth- collaborating on the instrumental parts as usual-) applies all those mostly visual and lyrical concepts that take them a step further musically, with surgical precision. Echoes of the Future is much less close to the dark ambient we saw on their previous work and it goes deep into an electronic much less formal and specially rhythmical atmospheric. Formal because those keys and those recorded bases, apparently less ambient, as a conjunction with the (less than other times) omnipresent guitars and basses, manage still to compose a luckily perfect soundtrack that sometimes goes much further than the incidental. NEO proves, again, that they are masters in these making movies with no celluloid thing, telling stories completely cinematographic with no need to rely on the visuals. Of course, the music videos that have been published to date support in this way what’s been voiced but, in regards to the intelligible of the epopee they turn to be unnecessary.

It’s curious how the project has been separating from the most canonic gothic rock sound (the one Artaud keeps submerging in incessantly with Merciful Nuns and the super band Alphavox, which has also released stuff this year) without abandoning the dark nor its everlasting space-esoteric obsessions at all. NEO has always been more terrestrial -even from the stelar celestial- in that sense. Rawer too. In this Echoes of the Future, it is again made very noticeable in the musical and in the furious and madly recited epics of the lyrics. It’s hard to highlight songs due to the main concept of the album and the need (I usually have it but in this case it’s absolute) to listen EotF on its totality to squarely submerge in it and fully enjoy it. However, if I force myself to underline any cuts above the rest, I might be left with Hypersonic Asylum, Android Human Slaves or Infocalypse, as they are very different to what they have gotten us used to. Or Silent Runner, which reminds me a little of some Killing Joke songs. Or The Long Loud Silence due to that retro-futuristic air that it holds. Or Decarbonised because of how it plays with the different vocal filters. Or Infernal Algorithms as it seems like an electronic copy of those far litanies (in all) Enki’s Temple that it supposed the serious debut of The Garden of Delight more than thirty years ago. Or, of course, with Echoes of the Future itself, with its eight great minutes that could be a round up of all that’s been said before as of the main discography of the band.

Wow, in the end I’ve underlined them all as if I was just a bad highschooler. In this case, it’s properly done, as I believe that EotF could have perfectly been just one really long song, even if obviously in these times of immediacy and streaming it results to be almost anachronic (holy it is, but anachronic) and suicidal the mere act of publishing plasticized music, even doing it all in one piece. Longer than forty minutes. Craziness.