From list No. 280
EXPO '70 Audio Archive 001: Music From Inaudible Depths
EXPO '70 Audio Archive 002
For a while there it was practically raining Expo 70 cd-r's around here, and we of course couldn't get enough, we were shirtless, soaking wet, jumping around, splashing madly in the sonic downpour. Expo 70 are masters of a sound that so perfectly pushes all of our buttons, a dark spaced out dronemusic, that manages to infuse the typical minimal drone, with the organic pulse of krautrock, the subtle propulsion of prog, the blissed out sonic effulgence of FX drenched space rock, all boiled down to their very essence, a throbbing pulsing organic world of sound, organs whirring, guitars rumbling, buzzing electronics, Moogs spinning out soft spacey shapes, bits of guitar strum, fragments of melody, all drifting in an expansive abyss of shimmering low end.
Dark and melodious, but blurred and smeared into expansive sonic sprawls, a black stream flowing heavenward, carrying us along with it, ambient music, but not wooshy or wussy, fierce and dense, dark and layered, keening sheets of feedback, crumbling chunks of distortion, breaking off like chunks of ice and floating weightless in a sea of hiss and buzz. Heavy enough to block out the SUNNO))), but serene enough to wrap around you like a warm blanket and sink into the soft feathery depths.
These two discs collect unused, unfinished and alternate tracks recorded over the last two years. Both are fantastic, gorgeous, minimal, intense, heavy, dreamy, 001 is packaged in a retro looking paper sleeve, while 002 is in a plain black sleeve with a sticker, and a black on black printed insert. Both are essential, whether you own all the other Expo 70 cds or none of them, and both are crazy cheap, the two together are still less than most single cds, you'd be foolish to buy just one...
Now I know you know that there is a whole lot of droning going on out there. And I'm not taking about the white noise or some other industrial byproduct seeping through your walls. I'm talking Drone, with a big, fat, lazy capital D. Even if you don't drone on a regular basis, you probably got a side project that does. Please insert no sarcasm in those lines because I actually do think it is great. Not too long ago I had been hunting all over the damn place for decent drone/ambient/dark types of music, but so few could really satisfy, often drifting too far into plasticized, cinematic or corny industrial realms that I really dislike. The best stuff I found back then usually came from German synth or Krautrock groups only on pricey Import reissues that a broke college kid like me would hesitate to buy when $20 is a weeks worth of food. Well, these days, I can find tons of bands to bore my aching skull with sweet tone suspension on a weekly basis. A band like Expo 70 seems to be riding high on this wave of zoned youth, making the rounds to sold-out crowds up and down the Fresh Coast. Their CDRs (a new one every month it seems) tend toward the sounds of those old Krautrock masters with a few 21st century electronic twists. In the downtime between regular CDRs (what downtime? ), Kill Shaman released this limited CDR titled "Audio Archives 001: Music from Inaudible Depths".
Hmm. This title doesn't make it an easy sell. Neither does the tagline "unused recordings" on the back cover. I guess the target market for this barebones document is the fan that only needs to see "Expo 70" to be convinced of its greatness. The CDR is the work of Justin Wright with McKinley Jones doing the recording and playing on most tracks. "Summoning the Cosmos" is a stellar piece with Jones twisting up some neon chirps and sputters from his Moog while Jones builds up layers of creamy organ drone. The organ, in all its mutilated glory, has made a big comeback for me this year, what with all the Mudboy and Justin Meyers I've listened to in the last couple of months, so I was particularly pleased with the 13-minute long opener as I was with "Space Time Collapsing". This is beautifully desolate as the Jandek-cum-Spaghetti Western acoustic strums by Wright align with Jones taking a whirl in the captain's chair using a bit more volume and force. What starts off a sedate psycho builds into something dancing the line between joyous and mysterious much in the way of current crop of dark folk players with a heavier bent on electronics. At times this can feel like a shelter for homeless experiments with some tracks trotting out an endless series of pointless electronic trickery across a monochrome backdrop for a long period of time. The hard thing about drone is that its consistency can put you way into the zone, or completely out in the cold. "White Magic at Dawn" has its good stretches but at over-twenty minutes, it gets to be overkill. But time probably wasn't a concern. This is not a practice in dynamics, but sound and texture.
I've found myself returning to this CDR more than I would have guessed, so I would say it's a good investment for the price. If you're not familiar with the bands work, I would point you to any of their CDRs, the fresher the better, and "Animism" before putting you on this. It is sixty-minutes of hit-or-miss material so I'd figure you'd want a better impression of the band than this. But there are plenty of really good moments on this collection for those who'd like to hear something a little different from the players. Or maybe you just plain love the Moog. Who doesn't love a new Moog solo once in awhile? 6/10 -- Kenneth Zubiate (10 October, 2007)
MY RECORD COLLECTION.ORG
I love pretty much everything I've heard by Expo '70 up until now, but I have a certain preference for his Audio Archive Series. His signature sound is still unmistakable, but they seem to be slightly "freer" in the sense that there doesn't seem to be any theme to these albums. Each track feels like an individual soundtrack and the results are often more varied. Summoning The Cosmos, for example, sounds like it could have been included on Fennesz' Hotel Paral.lel; Psalm Of The Universe, on the other hand, sounds like a long lost tune by Cluster and Valley Of Haze is remarkably similar to the works of The Skaters. Don't get me wrong, Wright (Expo '70) doesn't emulate these band's sound, each track is buried deep within his patented drones; yet there is so much going on behind these slow moving pieces, they are so evocative that everyone will hear something different, get different impressions of where this all originated.