Monday 6 June 2022


I know I've skipped ahead chronologically in the career of Drexciya but I was in a Neptune's Lair kinda mood. So we've gone from 1993 in the last post to the sound of Drexciya in 1999. I think we all thought they'd broken up at this point as they hadn't released any records for a coupla years but as if to say we're gonna really make a fucking indelible stamp on 90s music now they issued this surprise epic masterpiece in the nick of time during November of 1999, just before we were all gonna die from Y2K. I've said it before, this was the last great LP of the 90s. It's also the strangest, most enigmatic and ambitious music of Drexciya's esteemed 10 year saga.

When I first heard this album I thought it was some kind of secret mystic missive from a hidden sacred zone. It sounded like nothing else at the time and still holds a mesmerising hold of my brain when the needle hits the record/lazer hits the reflective metallic plastic today. 

They basically eschewed the harsher elements of their music to concentrate on the sweeter side of Drexciya, that was always a part of their dna but never quite at the forefront. The thing is this wasn't just the lovely side of the duo, it was an entire leap into unprecedented sumptuous sonic waters. The charm of Neptune's Lair resides in its refined attention to peculiar but splendid melodic detail. Epic opulent washes of sound, rippling low frequencies, sub-aquatic funk, fizzy kaleidoscopic jams, waterlogged bass lines and bubbling atmospheric waves conjuring weird underwater activity is what it's all about. We still get electro bangers where the funky robot sound of the gritty futuristic metropolis is relocated to the bottom of the ocean.

You can't really write about Drexciya without mentioning the fantastical mythology that surrounds the duo's music and its themes. On early records the artwork, song titles and aural textures hinted at this underwater-world known as Drexciya. By the time of their mammoth 2cd career spanning compilation The Quest in 1997 the mythology became overt with text and maps etc. It's hard to know if this mythos of an Afro-futurist utopia was originally just vague abstract ideas later retro engineered into something more coherent or was thought through from the start or was somebody else's poetic interpretation of the hints they'd been given. 

Anyway Drexciya is a mythic world that is inhabited by underwater sea-breathing, hastily evolved humanoids known as Drexciyans descended from pregnant mothers thrown off slave ships in the 17th century. Depending on your point of view this can either enhance ("wow man deep") or hinder ("nerds!") your enjoyment of Neptune's Lair. It all kinda puts me in mind of the top 70s Frog-proggers Magma who had a fictional planet Kobaïa and even invented a language Kobaïan

To me this record belongs thematically at least in the tradition of deep sea/aquatic/underwater records that were recorded in the 70s & 80s and released on library record labels. Records such as Fabio Fabor's Aquarium, Walt Rockman's Underwater, Armanda Sciascia's Sea Fantasy and Egisto Machi's Fauna Marina. Since discovering this delightful sub genre of music in the early 00s I have always wondered if James Stinson or Gerald Donald were across these LPs. I have to think they had probably come across one or two whilst digging in the crates if not being aficionados of these much coveted artefacts. 

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