Self-released CDr 2006
2xLP / Cassette on Sonic Meditations 2009
From list No. 251
EXPO '70 Center Of The Earth (self-released) cd-r
Third missive from our new favorite modern ambient space rock / krautrocky outfit. As if there were even any other contenders. These guys (or this guy rather) came out of nowhere and just blew our fucking minds. Expo '70, aka Justin Wright, has, over the last few months. given us two full lengths of gloriously dreamy kraut infused dronemusic, looped cyclical guitars, thick waves of smeared riffs and muted murky FX. A heavier, dronier take on Eno, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel. This latest transmission from the deepest reaches of the Expo '70's universe, is by far the heaviest and most aggressive sounding yet, as if they decided to give the boys in SUNNO))) and Earth a run for their money. But this is not just some massive slab of caveman sludge, instead this is an ominous soundworld of thick coruscating waves of grinding low end guitar fuzz, roiling and churning, but with a propulsive inner pulse, like some lost Ash Ra jam dipped in tar, and launched into the ether. Or if the other two Expo '70 records were the sounds of drifting weightlessly through space, the stars a distant shimmer, everything muted and slowly shifting, like some huge black expanse of water, Center Of The Earth is the sound of the sky buckling, the galaxy fracturing, of being sucked into some mysterious other universe, a subterranean world beneath our visible existence, murky and turbulent, a darkness impenetrable except for a few swirling swaths of grey light, quickly tangled up in the dark, the endless drift into a black hole, the sound a reverberating whir, a massive resonant hum that thickens and intensifies, until you can feel the drone in your bones, every cell in your body vibrating sympathetically, until you slip into glorious blackness. The final track is like the aftermath, your ship a ruined wreckage, floating through the sky, just another piece of debris in a sky full of memories and regrets and ruin, a drifting blissed out space rock riff beneath abstract streaks of psychedelia, wrapped in a gauzy film, the rays of some alien sun lighting up the sky and wrapping you in warm shadows. So gorgeous.
I personally think that the deepest, heaviest drones and subterranean sound is the hardest part of music's vast existence to describe/come to terms with. It's defined by its mystery and enigmatic nature. Whatever meaning people can extract from it is largely posited in their own subjectivity, much more than other musical forms. This is also very liberating, freeing the critical faculties since meaning or insight is not handed to the listener on a plate.
More on this later but first some specifics on Expo 70. It has largely been the work of guitarist Justin Wright, starting life as a side project during his time with the Living Science Foundation. Over time it has gone from being a duo with PK and later McKinley Jones to a solo outing with Wright being the only constant. "Center of the Earth" sees Wright pushing towards sounds unconscious depths. It consists of Wrights processed guitar work, recorded in late January and early February of this year.
It opens with flickered single notes, faint melodics and psyche effects that are soon enveloped by the dense drone that lingers on indefinitely. Later passages see drones of the likes of airplane engines as experienced from the inside. The sound of wind and resistance heard by someone safely separated from it by steel and glass. The longer the record goes, the denser and deeper it gets. There are few details to fixate upon: the meat so to speak is in the whole. In terms of its place in the world, it inhabits similar space to Double Leopards most zonked moments or Windy and Carl.
With all the mystique involved in this form of unmusic, cover art and artwork will often be taken as clues to the intent of a work (especially now artisan packaging and cover art is firmly a part of the experience of consuming music.) Here Wright suggests some aesthetic link or inspiration from geology or space. But to spend ones time searching for clues to the secret of obscure art would be a waste of time. To embrace free music like this is to embrace the immeasurable and intangible, grasping for literal meanings just misses the point. 8/10 -- Alex Kakafikas (18 December, 2006)
THE WIRE Magazine Issue No. 276
"Center of the Earth"
Expo '70 is the prolific side project of Justin Wright when he's not engaged in his day job with the Living Science Foundation (*they wrote Living Science Project, this band is now defunct!). Previous albums involved collaborations with Julian (*they wrote Justin) PK (Live July, 18 2004) and McKinley Jones (Surfaces). Wright considers his two recent albums, Exquisite Lust and Center of the Earth, to be the first mature work of Expo '70. The pieces are all composed from heavily effect-ladden guitar playing. Layers of delay build up into geometrically textured soundscapes while deep, rolling chords, cycle over themselves into low, ceaseless drones. There's a crossword puzzle cleverness to the weave of riffs on Exquisite Lust track "Hitherto" and a cynical buzzing splendour to "Motorik". Center of the Earth has more coherence as a suite of pieces. "Part I" pulses and swells with the elemental logic of lava flows. This builds into "Part II", which rumbles straight from the planet's magma soul before "Part III" and "Part IV" fall into the calm at the eye of the molten storm.
- By Nick Southgate
(*Just fixing two mistakes in this article - Justin/e70)
MY RECORD COLLECTION
Expo '70 has to be my favorite discovery of 2007. Every time I put an album on, I get transported away into the artist's very peculiar sound world. You might recognize a guitar here and a synthesizer there, but if you stop concentrating for a second and lose yourself in the music, everything will suddenly sound (and look) alien and strange. Expo '70's myspace page doesn't mention that this is "headphone bliss" for nothing; I suggest popping this album on in a dark room with either your headphones on or with your stereo with the volume turned up. Once that's done, just get comfortable and enjoy the ride. The four tracks on Center Of The Earth are quite heavy however and sometimes even border on SunnO)))-like doom (III), yet these soundscapes are so thick and fuzzy, listening to them feels like being wrapped in a thousand warm winter blankets that give off the occasional static electricity shock. Now who doesn't enjoy that? Amazing stuff!
Listening to this is indeed like a journey to the centre of the earth. It's epic! You get 4 sides of ambient drone gear spread over a deluxe double LP which is totally lush looking. It's on the Sonic Meditations label if that gives you any insight as to what you're getting here. It's a totally intense spaced out dronefest which if you're a bit chonged-out will be as close as you're gonna get to floating in space. It's completely psychedelic on that front and if you're into the current wave of synth-tastic retro music experimentalists this will totally bone you up. In fact the more I hear of it the more I'm being sucked into what's going on. Fans of the more sparse Emeralds tunes etc. will lap this up. Edition of 500 double 180 gram audiophile vinyl housed in tip-on sleeve. Minty!
Fantastic improvised drone guitar explorations that cross the tactile minimalist weight of Eleh with the edge of the world feel of NZ cosmonauts like RST, Sandoz Lab Technicians, Flies Inside The Sun etc... the sound of steel strings is contrasted with dark shadows of reverb and ghostly blooms of deep-field melody that slowly turn themselves inside out and spin like satellites on the very periphery of hearing. This four-part suite was recorded in 2006 and originally released as a CD-R then a limited cassette. This is its first time on vinyl. Edition of 500 copies double LP in heavy full-colour tip-on gatefold sleeve on 180g audiophile vinyl. Recommended.