LP / CS
8/10 from Robin (Staff) on 08 January 2015
Bless Justin Wright for reminding us that the world is impure and imperfect and that there’s no such thing as bliss, because we’re always fidgeting; we always have to get up in the morning. His work under Expo 70 may present itself as supremely ambient, but the soundscapes he crafts are admonished with komische sound effects that act more as moment killers than flourishes. Few drone artists are better at creating realistic worlds through their music -- of placing us firmly back in the world we know and are bothered by. On ‘July 18, 2004’, Wright manages to do so not through using relevant, day-to-day, field recordings, but by using cosmic and experimental effects in brief, intuitive bursts, or imposing quietly permanent feedback onto proceedings.
‘July 18, 2004’ is not an unsettling work, but it is designed to be hard to vibe with. Its soundscapes whirr curiously in the background, granted the spectral omniscience that you might hear in your average Natural Snow Buildings composition, but each proceeding sound is another singular, separable passage: the piano notes that begin to play towards the end of “I” are over before they’ve even begun, and the vocal chanting that follows them have a similar brevity, only appearing so you can find them hard to grasp at. A lot of artists have made ambient-disciplined works more abstract and impossibly fragmented -- what up, Morton Subotnick -- but Wright has a knack for creating sustained works that allow for all of the universe’s messy, minuscule contradictions.
There’s both a familiarity and distance with Wright’s work as Expo 70 -- it envelops as much as it pushes away, and its inflections can range from welcoming to disturbing. Sometimes it’s both at the same time: the pastoral guitar played at the beginning of “II” coincides with the gentle but constant sounds of an alarm going off. It’s a nice summary for his music as a whole: it’s caustic and disruptive in a deceptively quiet world that expects you not to notice. Next time you have a bubble bath, try to sit completely still for just one minute. If you don't succeed, there's your answer: there's no such thing as new age. There's no such thing as ambient. All there is to life is a lot of annoying interruptions.
I have a hard time differentiating and keeping track of all the Kosmische worshiping music that's been going around the block for awhile now, but I've always found these Expo 70 releases to stand out a bit from the heard. This is a reissue of a recording that is over ten years old. Looks like this guy was at the forefront of copying 70s German electronic music. Naw, it's all good...sometimes a backhanded compliment is the best you're gonna get out of me.
-- Nick Williams
From list No. 254
EXPO '70 "July 18, 2004" (Kill Shaman) cd-r
Another gorgeous slab of spaced out krautrocky ambience from Expo' 70, this one a live, completely improvised performance back in 2004, with the band expanded to a trio. And if folks' reaction to the first three Expo 70's releases is anything to go by, then these will be flying out of here in no time as well.
For those yet to discover the sublime joys of Expo '70, these guys (usually just one guy, Justin Wright) traffic in glistening dreamlike kosmiche drift. A krautrock that is less about propulsion and rhythm and more about texture and ambience, think Ash Ra Tempel, AR & The Machines, Tangerine Dream, Eno, Popol Vuh. Guitars aren't strummed and picked, they are sort of allowed to unwind, long glistening strands of reverberating buzz unfurl and float into the hazy ether. Synthesizers unleash a similarly disembodied sonic vibe, soft clouds of fuzzy whir and distant chordal warmth. Very much the sonic equivalent to drifting down a warm summer stream, on your back, watching the clouds drift by, the trees on the shore shimmer and sway. Or maybe more accurately, floating in the vacuum of space, everything weightless, untethered and drifting lazily through the inky blackness. The light of stars and suns bends and twists, slowly cycling through the visible spectrum, disobeying all laws of physics, wrapping you in a thick swirl of sonic brilliance. This music has to be the work of some immortal group of dronelords, sitting in their multidimensional fortress, atop some mysterious lost mountain, who in their infinite wisdom, allow their dreamlike drones and angelic ambience to fall from the sky and settle over us like a light dusting of snow...
MY RECORD COLLECTION
Welcome to the wonderful world of Expo '70, where everything sounds quite familiar, but isn't always quite what it seems. The first thing that popped up in my brain when I first put this live album on (besides trippin' balls) was that it felt quite similar to the psychedelic soundscapes of The Taj-Mahal Travellers; long drawn out pieces based in drone with constantly manipulated noises. The Double Leopards did something quite similar before him, but I believe Expo '70 has mastered this type of music. I for example has odd sounds surfacing sporadically throughout as a gloomy, fuzzy drone carries the piece way out into the stratosphere. II is quite similar except that it is drenched in delay and slightly creepier with it's shimmering background drone. III is a much shorter piece with tons of scraping and buzzing alien sounds that could give Birchville Cat Motel a run for his money. This is available both as part of a rare box set and by itself.