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"Mystical Amplification"

Kill Shaman







From list No. 267

We LOVE Expo '70. They're playing in SF this week, two shows that will be over by the time you read this. And we might not even get to go, 'cause we're too busy writing reviews, like this one... oh the bitter irony. But even if we miss them live (which would be a shame) we're still in Expo '70 heaven 'cause they've brought us two brand new cd-rs!! (And, there's also a new release on a real cd too, Animism, which we'll list next time!) Wow. That's a lot of Expo '70, but their krautrock inspired instrumental ambience is an expansive sound, that can easily sprawl across the full length of a cd or cd-r in just a track or two...and therefore can also spread beyond, occupying several near-simultaneous releases with no diminishment to our enjoyment. We're happy to hear it go on, and on, and on eternally. Expo overload, no, too much is never enough.


So, this one... Mystical Amplification. With song titles making reference to such things as "Mountainous Caverns Of Black Arts" and Konstantin Raudive's research into EVP (a la the Ghost Orchid) it's easy enough to say things like this music is haunting and mystical... mystical amplification, heck that's the title. The Expo '70 guys are doing all our work for us. The four long tracks (we like how the songs are split into a "side 1" and "side 2" when listed on the sleeve, even though it's of course all on one side of this cd-r) are all one-take improvs, with mainman Justin Wright on electric guitar ("with plenty of effects", all right) and his current Expo associate McKinley Jones playing a Moog synth. Spaced out and psychedelic trips much more on the "kosmische" tip than their Kansas City origin would suggest... this is all buzzing droning bliss, no drums or vocals to reign it in to human scale, just cosmic textures galore, often soothing, and a little bit ominous. There are moments that vaguely sound like Robert Fripp or Eddie Hazel jamming with Klaus Schulze, both of 'em dreamy and drowsy from drugs. Or imagine a mellower SUNNO))), teamed up with Space Machine, perhaps, getting all yogic on us with some abstract instrumental, electronic om-chants. Sleepy, slowly swirling, hissing and purring over quietly churning low-end depths...


By the way, this is slightly (a buck) more expensive than all the other Expo '70 cd-rs 'cause of the attractive vinyl-style gatefold packaging.




After RSTB's last encounter with the one man wonder that is Expo '70 and his soul crushing drones, Justin contacted me and hooked me up with a few more gems from his ever expanding catalog and I gotta tell you it seems that the man has struck a sympathetic tone with the universe. Just previous to his first "official" album, Animisim Wright laid some improvisations down to tape with compatriot McKinley Jones, the results of which are Mystical Amplification, and a better title could not fit these four heavy documents. Reportedly warmed up over two days and recorded straight in one shot, the four pieces on Mysical Amplification are certainly a testament to Wright's skills. Looser than Animism, the tracks wade much further into the psych territory, with hazed fretwork washing over the dark thunder of drone and restrained feedback lapping at the edges of the din. If you get a chance head over to Aquarius and check out their selection as they're one of the only tickets that are serving up Expo '70 right now.




I absolutely love the artwork for most of Expo '70's albums. They are so representative of the music within; subtle retro look, mysterious design, yet there is no doubt about how deeply anchored in rock the music is even though it might not seem that way at first. Mystical Amplification is just that. This is the result of using cranked up guitar amps for shamanic purposes. The constant buzz of the speakers, the droning bass, the alien-like feedback and the absolutely brain crushing rock'n'roll guitar solo that plays constantly in the background; it's enough to have you believe that the spirit of some guitar God has been imprisoned in the music since the dawn of mankind and is now trying to break free from the monolithic nature of these soundscapes. This album is probably the closest Wright has come to actually sounding like a weird krautrock obscurity that has just recently been rediscovered. This is four numbers of pure, mind-altering bliss.




This mammoth feast of monolithic drone is an exercise in clever subterfuge. Going by looks alone, you'd think that ?Mystical Amplification? was either a reissue of a long lost European prog epic, or a recent release from one of the current Japanese heavy psych masters. Lo and behold, this gorgeous hand-made package ? along with the CD-R inside of it ? is from Kansas City: Expo 70 is the solo project of Justin Wright, a KC native who formerly played in Living Science Foundation, a group based out of Los Angeles.


On "Mystical Amplification", Wright?s effects-laden guitar work is laid overtop spacey Moog soundscapes, courtesy of one McKinley Jones. Each of the four extended improvisations follows a similar path: dense synth drones, gurgles, and bleats provide a backbone overtop of which Wright drapes layered chords, melodies and feedback. However, there is enough dynamic interplay between the two musicians to keep things from becoming boring. Wright and Jones are obviously skilled improvisers; they never rest on a single idea for too long, and each player is cognizant of where the other wants to go next. They create deep caverns of fluctuation, not vast deserts of sameness. One thing is certain: there could never be as fitting a title as ?Mystical Amplification? for the sounds contained on this little disc. 7/10 -- Bryon Hayes (12 February, 2008)