Artist: Near Earth Orbit
Title: End of all Existence
Genre: Goth / Dark- / Apocalyptic Wave
Release Date: 8th May 2015
Label: Solar Lodge
What emerges if Artaud Seth, Grandmaster and High Priest of the MERCIFUL NUNS and Ashley Dayour, for his part voice and mind of Austrians occult shamans WHISPERS IN THE SHADOW decide to change branded horses for collaborating in a musical brainchild, that leaves the paths of the obvious sonic commonalities for a concept that includes religion, philosophy, apocalyptic doom-mongering, consequently a bit of physics and a lot of interstellar verities?
Right, no soundtrack for your child's birthday!
"The world goes to sleep, time to face the end, deep endless blackness towards nothingness..." as the opener ‘The End’ encouragingly reveals and this is more than an introduction - it’s an atmospheric guideline. Droning synth-scapes, spherical low-tuned guitars, rhythms that combine tribal elements with driving beats, echoing the sounds of angry machines, and finally Mr Seth´s vocal, which seems to emerge far from beyond, whispering, yelling, preaching and foreseeing, adequately on an appropriate low level.
But for getting the "What is it about" let me try to summarize the plot at first: Ehm... the mankind and its cosy home the earth are all fucked up, so to say. Civilisation stumbles unswervingly towards to its own extinction, accompanied by the proper scourges like floods, blasts, earthquakes and nuclear devastation, caused by ecocide, cancer-like progression and of course human exorbitance. But what makes this forecast differ from the usual apocalyptic “Beware!”-prognoses is that we have an assessable schedule, an eschaton timetable (set to March 2034, unfortunately 4 days before a solar eclipse is going to happen. What a pity!), provided to us by interstellar beings, which sent a pertinent note via a digital radio broadcast straight from beyond space and time or better - from beyond our solar system and the future. It shows up that there have been further contacts in the past, but governments and other dodgy circles draw a veil of silence over it, may it be for financial, economic or other selfish reasons and this failure of acting spelled doom for earth's irrevocable swansong...
That´s at least what I got from the cryptic homepage, the veiled project´s vitae and the blurry monochrome shots, exhaling a visual setting somewhere between Giger´s tapestry and that well-known novel of a certain John. Okay, this is not that innovative yet and the ideas and theories of the ones like Sitchin, Collins and Hancock are also not that new anymore, but the protagonists of NEO use this clever "recovered footage" trick (whose effect we all remember best from the ‘Blair Witch’ motion pic), by not claiming to know the truth prophet-like, but just to provide some given evidence, bearers of a message, what gives it all that special documentary patina, offsetting it against an "ordinary" dark, out of space-themed, end time rock album. In the end it is of course left to the consumers ears, eyes and minds to decide if it’s just a sonic playground for Sci-Fi-addicts, the raised pointer of an ecological zeitgeist or apocalyptic paranoia, but by lacking any kind of public statements the two actors seem to elude themselves from any kind of judging and that's (in my mind) the most effective gambit of all.
So I guess the topical attic seems sufficiently outlined for now, so let’s take a closer look at the music finally.
We start with the above mentioned ‘The End’ what introduces right off all ingredients the album is feeding from. Layers of synthesizers, that emerge like shallow fog from the ground, a leaden bass-line hovering above convulsing drum-patterns, samples and electronic splatters intersected by circling and piling guitars and the ulterior vocals, invoking and channelling truth and doom (what seems to be the same in that case!) A proverbial setting of the course for what is to come. ‘Abandoned World’ leaves the rhythmical mantra-path for a moment for offering an almost danceable, electronically infused beat (I guess silly me is the only one who is reminded of Bowie´s ‘I´m deranged’ for a second...), that sets the stage for a storm clouds of guitars, saturated with distortion & reverb, a sonic fallout pouring down on the rasping vocals, not that far from a timbre a certain Carl McCoy calls his own. ‘The Warning’, again, is more a soundscape than a song, a ritual collage of interlaced layers of sound and noise, rubbing against each other for creating an atmospheric tension, like a discharged delayed.
‘Observing The Sun’ captivates by its contrast of electronic signal noises, interspersed by spoken words and ground control samples, and doom-like thunder strikes of distortion and gunshot-drums, while ‘T.H.E.M.’, a pulsating imprint of frequencies and digital throbbing offers the albums most melodic sequence, when its final surprises with OLDFIELD-like sounding guitars, creating a real spherical canopy, an Ambient nebula, fragile and wrapped in a kind of beauty within its own surrounding. ‘Heat Death’ is the track that is the closest to a "conventional" Goth Rock song and it wouldn't be out of place on the next regular MERCIFUL NUNS release. Impelling drums lead the way for a tidal wave of pumping basses and attacking guitars, which are spurning the vocals through the lyrical setting of biochemical processes. And while ‘Taken’ takes up the thread of that leaden, mantra-like invocation motive again, ‘Anybody Out There’ is a calming sunrise after all that orbital storming. A gentle, feather-like outro, combining transmitted samples with the lovely sound of an acoustic (sic!) guitar. And suddenly the sky seems so peaceful again... but not for long as we know now...
So let me conclude that with ‘The End of all Existence’ the two gents have created a refreshing conceptual album, scratching at the borders of conventional Goth Rock by dissolving familiar song-templates like chorus and verse for playing with soundtrack-like collages, ambient and tribal elements, blending a very complex bunch of tracks with a high density of sound, mood and energy. Okay, maybe it is that density, the main acoustic pattern, which lacks a bit of variety and atmospheric nuances during its 35 minutes duration, because the stylistic ingredients are assessable and somehow predictable after a while, the palette too small for the whole universe, but aside this personal sentiment it's a solid and well-done dark opus and mankind should watch the space from what stellar cluster the next NEO release is transmitted....
By the way: March, the 27th 2016 will see the projects first ever live appearance (Black Easter Weekend in Berlin) and it´s going to be interesting if lifted curtains can keep the arcane aura of the main idea, if the proclamation works out on a stage…
01. The End
02. Abandoned World
03. The Warning
04. Observing The Sun
06. Heat Death
08. Anybody Out There
“written and performed here and beyond by”
Total: 7 / 10