Beta-lactam Ring's Black Seies
From list No. 300
As regular readers of the aQ list can no doubt attest to, we sure do love droning guitars. Whether downtuned and mostly motionless, or frenzied and buzzing, or blown out and shimmery, there's just something about the sound of those steel strings vibrating projected through massive walls of amplification. There's the primal primeval sound itself, the actual drone, a sound found everywhere in nature, then there's the power, the amplification, this transformed sound. The drone is most certainly linked to the machinations of life and the universe, we can only imagine, the Big Bang resulted in an aeons-long drone that hung over the nascent Earth, the sound of insects, the growls of beasts, the rumble of thunder, the white noise of the surf, all harnessed and sculpted into a more modern, more human experience of sound, into actual music. But the best drone music, with the most resonance, is the music that conflates the two. That creates a listening experience, wherein we find ourselves drifting off, sometimes to some man made universe, of songs and sounds and music, sometimes to someplace wholly other, where the music looses itself from the strictures of composition and arrangement, and is allowed to float freely, to drift. It's then, that the music maker becomes more than a musician, more than a rock band, almost more like and esoteric, ethereal wrangler of sound. The magic is creating music, that sounds like it wasn't 'created' at all, but instead, was discovered, unearthed, or if created, not from guitars and 4-tracks and drums, but from some strange energy, or some alternate universe, the sounds become glimpses into other worlds, or peeks into the music maker's soul. In creating these sorts of sounds, the listener is inexorably drawn in, and pulled quite willingly into a whole new dimension, where unlike the creator, who may have meticulously assembled the various elements, they are allowed to wander, and wonder, to float and drift and get lost, to allow the sounds to unleash emotions, to open up their mind, their hear, maybe in some cases even their soul.
As you might imagine, and we've mentioned it before, the drone is a mercurial beast, and one not wrangled easily. There are plenty of comers, who feel like once you've conjured the drone, it does the work for you, but such is not the case, as is proven time and time again, by sonic alchemists like Expo '70, whose take on the drone is less monochromatic, less one dimensional, whose dronemusic is infused with elements of krautrock, spacerock, postrock, but all woven into vast black expanses of sound.
Even more than past Expo '70 releases, Black Ohms manages to create some impossible world of sound, that is at once dark and sinister and foreboding, yet somehow dreamlike and serene, a collection of tracks woven into a seemingly continuous sonic drift, beginning with a deep, almost corrosive buzz, pulsing and undulating, shot through with streaks of melody, layered and textured, looped and hypnotic, heavy and dense and in its own minimal way, quite brutal, before giving way to something much more tranquil, a sea of glimmering, harmonics, and deep drifting tones, here the guitar is revealed as just that, a guitar, its abstract chords and minimal riffage, clipped and effected, draped in reverb and delay, and allowed to unfurl into softly propulsive rhythms, and spider web-like textures, again, infused with subtle melody, and blurred, burnished shadings.
The record wanders through miniature otherworlds of atonal melody, of machine like click and chitter, fifties computer bleeps and bloops, soft chiming jammy summer sun guitars, before returning to the deep, dark drone for a nearly 35 minute two part finale. The first part, a fifteen minute return to the sound of the album opener, the guitar again distorted and dark, not so much riffing as buzzing, a Niblockian soundscape of overtones and harmonics, a warm blackened bed for the ethereal melodic drift above, streaks of glimmering melody, soft stretches of wispy ambience, laced with an almost buried, looped guitar figure, all subtly rhythmic, a distant throb, like the pulse of some buried giant, muted and mysterious, but supporting the whole delicate structure.
The second, a 20 minute slow burn, a crystalline assemblage of barely there rhythms, deep layers of shimmering drone, this is the sound of a million dronemusic cd-r's fully realized, a smoldering chunk of minimal propulsion, rife with strange, tape speeds shift, but instead of jarring, it only manages to make the sound woozy, slightly alien, underwater, glimmering melodies, sparkling like black diamonds, fields of soft static like clouds of tiny insects, deep soft swells like the ebb and flow of some otherworldy tide.
Imagine the most minimal krautrock record you own, dubbed over and over and over onto the shittiest tapes possible, left in the sun, then played back on a car stereo, with only one woofer, but then render that in ear popping hi fi. The sound may seem murky and muted, but it is most definitely by design, there is nothing low fidelity about the sound of Expo '70, because within the meticulously and deftly obscured sound world, lurk all manner of sonic mysteries, each suspended in an impossibly beautiful blurred constellation of sound, which in turn is left to drift across a vast expanse of Black Ohms.
LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!.
Repetition gets a bad rap from some musicians (especially in classical and jazz circles), but in fact, repetition has been creatively advantageous for everyone from James Brown to Fela Kuti to the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. Repetition is an art, and producer/composer/guitarist Justin Wright gives the impression that he is well aware of that fact on Black Ohms. Wright is the leader/founder of Expo '70; he is the brains behind the group, and repetition is the rule throughout this 2008 recording -- which is best described as a blend of progressive rock, ambient electronica, and Krautrock and draws on influences that include Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, and Pink Floyd (among others). This instrumental outing never adheres to a verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. Rather, tracks like "Solitude" (not to be confused with the Duke Ellington standard), "Mind Echo Unit," and "Cosmic Séance" favor an extended drone; the result is musical hypnosis, which is exactly what Wright is going for. And anyone who complains that Black Ohms is overly repetitious is missing the point. This is secular music, but like the spiritual music embraced by Buddhist monks or Hare Krishna devotees, Black Ohms uses repetition to put the listener in a musical trance. Because this 2008 recording is relaxed and unassuming, one could easily keep the volume low and let Wright's drones fade into the background. But listeners who turn the volume up and give Black Ohms their full attention will get a lot more out of this 64-minute CD, which falls short of exceptional but is still a solid and enjoyable contribution to prog rock and ambient electronica.
-by Alex Henderson
PSYCHATRONE RHONEDAKK Blog
I hope you know it's TRUE! Well, as far as I can tell from the cover of BLACK OHMS....the new EXPO'70, anyway!
Yes, a smoke shrouded Justin sits before what looks like a black monolith with one glowing eye....if you look on the disc itself the word "ORANGE" can just be seen on the "God's" head. You've got it,....here is the original worshipper of the mighty ORANGE amp bluster. I do believe that is the main message this cover delivers,....and the CD's music, does it deliver "God's" word too? Read on and see....
Track one is named "Lysergic Sunrise" and it is almost purely almighty AMP DRONE/BUZZ ,fuzz-wall sound....a sliding guitar coasts around this wall of sound and just enough amp scrunge is evident to make you realize that this is a guitar drone, NOT any synth tone stuff here.
MIND ECHO UNIT takes a less agressive stance in the drone department,and adds almost hidden chiming tones for depth of field(I like to call it...). Give this some time and listen hard my children,.....other worlds of sound will unfold before your ears. Then a ricocheting guitar lead brightens the haze with an Eddie Hazel on downers type of sound. A bit like a slow motion Maggot Brain for you all.
EMERALD FANGED DANCER is full-on MOOG madness in an off-kilter dance macabre,....then SOLITUDE flows out of your speakers like an electric chamber orchestra with a tasteful fuzz lead guitar soaring over the seemingly bowed sounds.
COSMIC SEANCE has that wide listening depth-of-field I spoke of before...listen deep and float,...long flowing tones surface and glide through this piece,that is until the last 5 or so minutes where a lead guitar layer forms like something from AR and The Machines to round out the trip!
The last twenty minutes is called "Midnight Stalking/Dawn of The Black Ohms",...and Mr. Wright probably wants to strangle me by now with all of my recent Tangerine Dream references,but the beginning here sounds to me like one of their dark pieces like ZEIT ,only better with more changes! This throbbing behemoth slowly subsides towards the middle mark of the track's time to mellow out and become more obviously guitar sounds that take us to a shimmering "Dawn" with high freq chimings darting through the soundfield.
So with EXPO'70's album done....I can say "Yes, the God of ORANGE amplification has been made real,and His (or is it Her?) kindness shall surely reign down upon us all when we celebrate by playing this album!" Go forth and listen to a true testament to the beauty of sound.
MY RECORD COLLECTION.ORG
Expo '70 "Black Ohms" CD
Continuing along the same lines as it's predecessor, Black Ohms is a journey through time and space. This is what it would sound like if Steve Reich formed a rock band, or if Neu! tried to blend some elements of doom in their sound. It is proof that one can still be influenced by experimental tape artists of the sixties or the german krautrock scene and still be able to sound fresh and modern. For example, I adore the simple yet effective Solitude with it's slow, plaintive fuzz guitar solo sprawled across a lovely, delayed background motif. The two last tracks are the albums main highlights with Cosmic Seance being a unique exercise in psychedelic doom while Midnight Stalking/Dawn Of The Black Ohms sounds more like a weird, experimental dark ambient tape composition. There might be tons of drone artists out today, but Expo '70 really stands out above the others and Black Ohms is the proof why! Phenomenal music as always from Wright!
Expo 70 was developed Justin Wright originally as a side-project from his band Living Science Foundation, and originally with some cooperation by band member Paul Kneejie. After many CDR's this is his first official CD, a solo project, with only Matt Hill on electric guitar and mixer for the last two and longest tracks.
Much of it sound like coming out of a dark matter/space/light improvisation, in which the first track, "lysergic sunrise", there is ignited something like a high power electricity tension in a tube, a picture which is provoked by the buzzing looped bass tones pulses. After some time of this vividly and rhythmically pulsing, a distant echoing slide guitar string comes in on top of this. The second track, "mind echo unit" more clearly is based op sounds produced on metal strings of guitars, with the help of loops and echo effects, minimal guitar playing, and texturing buzzing effects. The third track is improvised with Moog MG-1, with contemporary sinus tone pulses, strange harmonic sounds, and texturing rhythms, before turning back to the electric guitar. On "Solitude" the loop-like multi-layered minimal guitar improvisations goes a bit into the direction of Richard Pinhas and Manuel Götsching but are more ambient in nature. Also the first of the two conclusive tracks after that combines the early hypnotic electricity-buzzy drones with some higher overtones, produced like mechanical keyboard layers with more texturing ideas, forming beautiful harmonic pulsations, with a natural feeling, like an abstract moving wave-form, ambient in nature, but with echoing guitar ideas on top. Also the last track is more or less ambient, warm, brooding, and with beautiful high tone textured effects like insect sounds and structured noise textures, while slow drones and sliding long waves glide in space, with more cosmic feeling, with changes nurtured from inside, like in a breathing blood stream, calm and meditative. Even when not too much theme change happens here, it is a convincing track….
French Blogger Joseph Ghosn (in French)
EComme quelques autres, j'avais entendu parler d'Expo 70 sur le site de la boutique américaine (San Francisco) Aquarius Records. A l'époque, il y a deux ou trois ans, j'avais commandé certains de ses CDR, contacté le guitariste se dissimulant derrière ce groupe et écrit un ou deux textes pour parler de tout cela, notamment du lien évident entre la musique d'Expo 70 et tout ce que j'aime : le Krautrock, Spacemen 3, La Monte Young, etc. Depuis Expo 70 a sorti beaucoup de choses et ce nouvel album, Black Ohms, pour le label Beta Lactam Ring, est une pure merveille tonale, évoquant un croisement plutôt bâtard entre Sunn et Durutti Column. Composé de longs moments de drones fabriqués à la guitare ou au moog, Black Ohms exsude quelque chose de bravement monolithique, impassible et confit dans un registre délétère qui ne peut que me plaire. Comme le KTL évoqué ici la semaine dernière, Black Ohms déploie une mélancolie inattendue, un amateurisme séduisant, qui hypnotise et rassure, endort et cajole. La beauté de ces disques est bien qu'ils ne tentent jamais d'être pop, mais parviennent tout de même à toucher droit au coeur, débordant d'une naïveté dont on ne veut surtout pas savoir si elle est feinte ou calculée. On ne veut croire qu'une chose, qu'une chose unique : qu'en écoutant ce disque, des démons et des apparitions et des fantômes et des anges finiront par surgir , juste là.
BLOG SAN DIEGO
10.13.8 Keith Boyd
If you are willing to wait and keep listening eventually your music will find you. It will come to you from sometimes unlikely sources. A few seconds overheard on the radio blasting from a passing car. A snatch of melody on some jukebox in a bar. Maybe it's a friend who loans you a disc and says, "I think you'll dig this". Whatever the byways and highways that lead your music to you, you'll recognize it as your own almost immediately. Some twist of sound will push a deeply buried genetic part of you and waves of excitement will pulse through your brain. I heard it once with Jane's Addiction's first live EP on a New Year's Eve about a million years ago. Then it came to me while falling through the infinite layers of Terry Riley's circular drones. Now I've heard it again. Expo 70's new disc, "Black Ohms" is such an all encompassing and overwhelming listen that at times you'll find the need to back up a bit and delineate what's actually vibrating, your body or the music. This intimacy and warmth are combined with an alien fingerprint that beckons you to move ever deeper into these sounds.
I would classify Expo 70's music as immersive. You become an explorer of these sonic caves and the discoveries are always breathtaking. I've been digging quite a few of the handful of CD-r's Expo 70 has put out lately and they are all of a high quality. The usual strategy is a guitar line that reverberates and wriggles into ever widening ripples which eventual bounce back against newer sounds and create overlapping and chiming tones of goodness. The overall signal is kept fairly clean and hence the freakiness comes in by way of the delayed-out overtones. The whole kit and caboodle ends up sounding Kraut Rocky good with a dose of Circle when they are truly circling. If that were all Expo 70 had to offer it would be enough. But there's more! Weird clankings and fizzy lifting drink buzzes evolve out of the background. They swirl and bubble into shape only to recede and add yet more layers to the hazy architecture of the sound.
On "Black Ohms" all of the forms have been rewritten. There is a molten weight coursing through the veins of these drones. These are "Black" Ohms for sure. Never content to simply let the music ride in a SunnO))) style doom zone, this beehive soundtrack fractures into kaleidoscopic sequences that hovers in space like a congregation of astral whales. Deep pulses clash with dirty buzzings leaving you in an odd state of tension and relaxation. This disc is a deeply satisfying listen. It fleshes out the sound of Expo 70's other releases with a dark and brooding sonic palette and is long enough to provide you with either an inner or outer space moment.
DYING DAYS Blog (in Portuguese)
Vitrola » Expo 70: um case de sucesso no questionável mundo do ambient
Por Vicente M. em 09/11/2008
Nas minhas incessantes procuras por sonoridades excêntricas, acabei me embrenhando, de uns anos para cá, pelo rótulo que se convenciona como drone, e descobri que nesse formato, o inimigo pode manifestar-se ao se dobrar uma esquina. Assim como no noise, no momento em que se explora a ambiência, a técnica convencional fica em outro plano, dando brechas para que se discuta o talento de quem não necessariamente saiba tocar um instrumento/equipamento, mas sim tirar sons interessantes dele. Partindo desse pressuposto, qualquer um pode fazê-lo, e disso sai uma imensidão de porcarias e obras desnecessárias, colocando o ouvinte em inúmeras arapucas.
Quando aparecem discos como Black Ohms, do projeto Expo 70, a satisfação é instantânea, assim como a certeza de que coisas boas surgem quando quem as produz sabe muito bem o que faz. Justin Wright já tinha quase que uma dezena de CD-Rs editados por aí, além de um CD como convencionalmente conhecemos, onde explorava o encontro de guitarras, violões e sintetizadores em busca de sonoridades ambientes, da força que os tons podem alcançar. Cada um desses capítulos merecia sua atenção especial pois Justin, embora prolífico, não deixa seus trabalhos saírem por aí sem que antes passem por um filtro de qualidade. Black Ohms é mais obscuro, baseado em ressonância de guitarras distorcidas, tons graves e amplificadores meticulosamente explorados, tudo intercalado e invadido por sintetizadores, pianos e texturas indecifráveis. Embora a linguagem seja arrastada e não cause impacto imediato aos não-iniciados, é um trabalho diferenciado que prova o quanto esse tipo de som pode crescer, se manipulado pelas mãos corretas.
Créditos da imagem:  Beta Lactam Ring Records
RE GEN Magazine
Posted: Sunday, November 09, 2008
By: Matthew Johnson
Expo '70 mastermind Justin Wright builds immense but delicate towers of sound from simple electric guitar drones.
Pure, true ambient music as Brian Eno originally defined it isn't for everyone, its lack of vocals, rhythms, and for the most part discernible melodies being more than enough to turn off casual listeners. Aficionados, however, will surely appreciate Expo '70 founder Justin Wright as one of the form's rising stars. With Black Ohms, Wright starts with a deceptively primitive electric guitar buzz and uses it as the springboard for a journey into drone, electronic ambient, and space rock that lasts for nearly 65 minutes. Opening track "Lysergic Sunrise" is Wright at his most minimal, just a low buzz overlapping in upon itself to generate a pleasant harmonic overtone, with higher pitched frequencies gradually creeping in at strangely tuned intervals faintly reminiscent of the drones in Indian classical music. "Mind Echo Unit" is similarly contemplative, perhaps even sleepier, but little flourishes like a pick scraped along the lower strings of the guitar and fed through digital delay until it becomes the distant call of seagulls give the piece a far richer atmosphere than you'd expect. With "Emerald Fanged Dancer," Wright abandons the guitar temporarily in favor of a Moog MG-1, and though it's as close to jarring a transition as one sees on such a purely ambient album, the vintage synthesizer effects make this brief interlude a sort of homage to the earliest electronic music pioneers. With "Solitude," the focus returns to guitar, this time a distinct phrase, the notes themselves clear enough that the emphasis shifts to the spaces between them as they slowly fill in with sustain. Finishing the album are two long-form pieces. The first, "Cosmic Séance" is classic space rock, a 16-minute epic of slowly building guitar effects that eventually coalesce into fuzzy chords and melodies. The second, the two-part "Midnight Stalking / Dawn of the Black Ohms" is deeper and darker with Wright joined by fellow experimental musician Matt Hill. The two use their guitars to create sounds of the most basic and minimal variety, one a deep pulsing bass thrum, the other an undercurrent of effects washes and echoing clicks and taps. At over 19 minutes, it's deep and hypnotic, true ambient music at its most weighty. Minimalist and trance-inducing to the core, Black Ohms is space music at its best, subtle and tripped out without being aimless, and is sure to appeal to fans of Fear Falls Burning, Robert Rich, and Steve Roach.
Slug Magazine dot Com
Expo '70 = Phil Niblock + Cluster
For every master of the field of so-called drone music, there are 1000 more that try and don't seem to get it. You can't just turn on a machine and hope to come up with interesting textures (if you can, God bless you), a compelling use of or ignorance to harmony, development/stasis and, most importantly, a unique personality that sets you apart from the imitators. When Justin Wright, a.k.a. Expo '70, is on, he's totally on, as is evident on "Emerald Fanged Dancer," a "something old, something new" Arp-like sequence of delayed microtones, clicking pulses and studio hum guided by consonant and dissonant reactions. However, the second Wright picks up an electric guitar and plucks along with a delay pedal, his music turns into cinematic filler. Sadly, Black Ohms is equal parts of these two elements; the moments of beauty and expertise overshadowed by dithered cliché (you have a skip button, though).
RAVEN SINGS THE BLUES Blog
Another great release from the tireless Justin Wright, otherwise known as Expo 70. He's pushing double digit releases now and has two more 7"s following up the release of Black Ohms, and this is one of the best I've heard from him since Mystical Amplification. Hauntingly dark and practically filling your nostrils with the inky night, this set of songs reverberates the desperation and unease of the surrounding void. Not quite as krauty as some of his past work but still an unheralded masterpiece of ambient psych. Wright's been making further waves out of Kansas City, not only in his dealings with Kill Shaman but now also in recording local acts like current RSTB faves Mystical Beast. Gotta watch out for the heartland because the new dark center of the universe seems to be migrating here. I'd say I can't wait to hear more from Justin but I don't think I'll have to, grab this or one of the other two 7"s he's got coming up.
"Thank you Expo '70, O Lord, for the drones you are about to receive." Hyuk hyuk hyuk...those folks at Beta-lactam Ring sure have a focused sense of humor in their press releases. (!) Expo '70 is Justin Wright...another experimental noise artist whose music plays at several levels beneath conventional radar systems. If you are into droning electronic music...Black Ohms is probably one of the most consistent drones. Fans of commercial and/or musical releases will have absolutely no interest in this album...and that is sad, because they are probably the ones who need it the most. This six-track album is definitely a mood setter. The compositions are built around a simple repeating note or phrase while subtle trippy electronics float around in the background...creating an experience that is something is something like going on a trip to the ocean floor. Cool atmospheric cuts include "Lysergic Sunrise," "Emerald Fanged Dancer" (our favorite), and "Midnight Stalking." Oddly restrained mind-bending stuff... (Rating: 5+)
LOSING TODAY INDIE Magazing Online
BY MARK BARTON
I don't mind admitting to the fact that I'm reduced to a child like feverish excitement when the postman troops the tarmac paved way to our door brandishing the unmistakable postmarked package containing the latest turntable delights from the ever reliable and impeccably nurtured switched on headquarters of Beta Lactam Ring. Inside these mailed out dispatches from across the pond a positive world of delights await, their strange melodic tongues tutored in drone, deep psyche and out there and beyond strange sounds for whom the pop vocabulary hasn't as yet mapped, named or sullied with the marketing aggression of a Panzer assault. With the hi-fi cleared off clutter and the turntable eager for action it was left only for us to shred open the package, inside new releases from Edward Ka Spel, Eyeless in Gaza, Nick Grey and the Random Orchestra and Head Resonance Company where immediately given prime listening space yet it was the label debut of Expo 70 that based on early indications has impressed us the most.
Limited to just 500 numbered copies and appearing as part of the labels Black Series, Expo 70 is the melodic alter ego of former Living Science Foundation guitarist Justin Wright who it seems since the break up of which has taken to blanket bombing Aquarius records / distribution in recent times with his ridiculously prolific back catalogue and release schedule. To date there have been over a dozen self released cd-r's plus the odd - alright then - very odd 'Wedding Album' which was made only available to wedding guests and featured music composed by Wright and various other commissioned musicians.
Hitting all our buttons until we go 'ow' - 'Black Ohms' is in essence a monolithic wide screen sonically glacial canvas that's been detailed and fractured into six mind morphing miniatures and finds Wright utilising all manner of guitar trickery, improvisations and process techniques along with a short and brief composition arranged around the Moog as well a solitary collaboration with Missouri based minimalist Matt Hill. Largely meditative in design 'Black Ohms' clocks in at just over an hour in duration and provides for what is a full circle voyage into pop's inner wilderness, all at once hypnotic and serene the set opens to the ominous and oppressive pulsing fuzz drone of the the sparsely detached 'lysergic sunrise' - a cold hearted trance like psyche wiring backdrop for a mechanoid utopia, doom like and eerie and filtered with the haunted apparition of opining echoes as though a re-imagining of Terminator only relocated to the arid hazy outback wilderness of the native Aboriginals. Much reminiscent of the more sedate moments found on Roy Montgomery's 'true' collaboration with Chris Heaphy the soft psyche Bardo-esque aural space walk 'mind echo unit' is immersed with cross weaving interloping dissipating dub mirages and hallucinogenic cosmic snake charms all tenderly grafted onto mind expanding sheens of multi evolving spectrally atmospheric canvases that when viewed as a whole endowed a trippy almost loose limbed druggy overtone to the proceedings.
Fans of the sparsely chilled 70's minimalist sound-scapes conceived by John Carpenter will do well to seek out 'Cosmic Séance' - an edgy and foreboding slice of flat lining sinister edginess steeped with the kind of check behind the sofa blood cooling skin prickliness, daunting and cavernous it revisit's the terrains explored on the opening ambit 'lysergic sunrise' - a hulking mass of brooding ambience equipped with Richter registering reverberations and framed within what sounds like a cosmic leviathan meting out futile distress calls into the death wrapped void. The 19 minute transcendental epic 'midnight stalking / dawn of the black ohms' draws proceedings to a close, like being aboard a huge spacecraft - the whirring drone montages, the hazes of fractured binary chatter, the hypnotic tonalities, the tripping mirages, the milky ether piercing daydream collages, the ethereal echoes and pockets of strangely alluring euphoria coalescing into a serene state of abandoned bliss. More please and quick with it.
Key tracks -
Mind echo unit
Midnight stalking / Dawn of the Black Ohms
SENTIREASCOLTARE Magazine (Italian)
**HIGHLIGHT FEATURE REVIEW**
EXPO '70 - BLACK OHMS CD
Mai titolo fu più appropriato, quello dell’ennesimo album di Justin Wright a.k.a. Expo ’70. Reduce, almeno da queste parti, dall’intenso split con Be Invisibile Now! uscito per Boring Machines, questo full length inaugura la collaborazione con un’altra etichetta di culto, la Beta-Lactam Ring.
Elegante digipack tutto in nero, sleeve nera, cd nero. La musica? Un lungo, fluttuante, inarrestabile ohm nero-pece frutto di elucubrazioni di moog (Emerald Fanged Dancer) e improvvisazioni di chitarra elettrica (tutto il resto). Nulla di più. Strumentazione tanto scarna e minimale quanto evocativi e trance-inducing risultano i sei lunghissimi mantra impro-droning architettati da Wright. E se la citata Emerald Fanged Dancer per la sua natura elettronica dipinge paesaggi di lunare ed aliena alterità, i pezzi per chitarra spaziano tra kosmiche muzak, kraut al ralenti, reiterazioni minimaliste, textures ambient virate al nero e droni fluttuanti in un liquido amniotico.
Un disco – si sarà capito – che è una immersione in uno stato di atavica sospensione.
La press-sheet dell’etichetta si conclude così: Thank Expo ’70, O Lord, for the drones you are about to receive. Ringraziamento al quale, sentitamente, ci uniamo anche noi umani. (7.5/10)
EXPRESSWAY TO MY SKULL Blog
2008 proved to be a real banner year for Expo 70, especially after wallowing in relative obscurity for the years preceding. '08 saw Expo '70 (Justin Wright being the only mainstay in the "group") release several dark drone releases on labels like Peasant Magik, Beta-lactam Ring and Kill Shaman. He also managed to crank out a few split releases with the likes of Rahdunes, Be Invisible Now!, and I Am Sea Monster. The highlight of the bunch would have to be his full length album on Beta-lactam Ring, Black Ohms, which is easily his most focused record yet. Full of the buzzing drone guitar I've come to love from him. Due out on vinyl in early 2009.
a camarilha dos quatro reviews Black Ohms (in Portuguees)
Expo '70 é um projeto de música improvisacional do guitarrista Justin Wright, iniciado em Los Angeles, 2003, mesmo ano em que foi lançado seu primeiro CD-R, um split com o grupo SXBRS. Outros discos independentes seguiram-se, mas somente em 2007 saiu o primeiro trabalho oficial do Expo, Animism, pelo selo Kill Shaman. Black Ohms é seu segundo álbum e o primeiro de uma dupla que se concretizará no final do mês, com White Ohms. (TF)
Há uma gama enorme de possibilidades alternativas para os guitarristas não-detentores de um conhecimento técnico pleno e acadêmico de seu instrumento. Não que seja estritamente necessário o domínio completo do fretboard da guitarra; muito pelo contrário: é da inquietação ou do desdém em relação a uma visão classicista e cerebral do fretboard que muitos músicos conceberam e, em determinados casos, solidificaram uma estética audaz e inusual, dentre os quais podemos destacar Christian Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O'Malley, Fred Frith, Robert Fripp e Keith Rowe. Justin Wright (ainda) não possui uma obra nem visão artística compatíveis a esses gigantes do violão elétrico, entretanto sua curta e prolífica carreira vem requerendo uma atenção especial dos amantes do instrumento de seis cordas e daqueles interessados no bojo da música contemporânea, que engloba novos feitios de amplitude e timbre sonoros.
Talvez todo o mérito de Black Ohms resida no fato de que ele, por si só, expõe tanto suas qualidades quanto fraquezas. Os primeiros segundos de "Lysergic Sunrise", com uma atmosfera funérea e um drone de guitarra impetuoso, envolvem completamente o ouvinte em seu universo mórbido e misterioso. A habilidade de Wright consiste em ampliar os horizontes timbrísticos da guitarra e, através dos mesmos, criar várias camadas sonoras, baseadas na contraposição de drones, graves e densos, e efeitos, ora climáticos, ora cortantes, mas sempre agudos. Do mesmo modo como sabe desenvolver bem o lado textural da guitarra, Wright exagera no uso do delay (por mais que esse seja um efeito primordial para sua criação) e, por vezes, sem sucesso, se aventura por solos psicodélicos. É essa junção do delay e do solo que não cai bem ao Expo. Antes seu defeito fosse não saber solar, pois é da economia e da falta de solos que Black Ohms obtém êxitos memoráveis. Em faixas um tanto desnecessárias como "Solitude" (de objetivo emocional já patente no título) e "Cosmic Seance", ele se arrisca por solos supérfluos e óbvios. Não é questão de justapor notas atrativas dentro de uma escala, na qual um som puxa o outro: nessas duas faixas, Black Ohms vira um jogo de adivinhação bobo e sem graça, que já diz de antemão quais serão seus próximos passos.
Felizmente, Wright não decepciona seus ouvintes e os momentos de fraqueza do disco ficam restritos às faixas supracitadas. A derradeira "Midnight Stalking / Dawn of the Black Ohms" retoma as explorações minimalistas de timbre e textura do projeto e, mesmo com quase vinte minutos de duração, ainda nos deixa querendo mais. Wright sabe que esse é seu trunfo, pois a pré-estrutura de suas improvisações deve advir de uma capacidade de manter o som sempre contínuo e envolvente; característica essa que não remete exatamente à obviedade, mas sim a um ato de resignação e de perseverança espiritual. Black Ohms se torna ainda mais saboroso e enigmático quando desvendamos sua essência antagônica, que se utiliza de duas formas intuitivas de tocar para chegar a uma dialética perfeita do som. (Thiago Filardi)
A imagem da capa de Black Ohms mostra uma silhueta de guitarrista de costas, diante de um amplificador iluminado do qual sai uma fumaça que transforma o ambiente em névoa. É uma apropriada tradução visual para muito do que acontece com esse disco do Expo '70, que distila uma aura de mistério e clima carregado através de seus drones soturnos. "Lysergic Sunrise" abre o disco com uma leve marcação rítmica e um drone de guitarra que parece uma mistura de Earth e o Kevin Drumm de Imperial Distortion. Afora uns alaridos estridentes de guitarra no meio da faixa, ela basicamente mantém o padrão até o final, mas a densidade dos sons garante o interesse e o estado letárgico/alucinante da "aurora lisérgica" que o título propõe. "Mind Echo Unit" é mais doce e lenta, com base que lembra momentos mais afáveis de Fennesz e um trabalho de guitarra que começa repetindo notas e depois vai pesquisar melodias em delay que lembram em alguma medida o trabalho de guitarra do Cure durante os anos 80. Essas duas faixas compõem juntas um começo de disco imponente, que mesmo sem desenhar um universo sonoro próprio cativam pelo cuidado e talento na concepção e na execução. Em seguida, Black Ohms claudica por não saber exatamente para onde ir e acaba trilhando por cenários meio qualquer nota. "Emerald Fanged Dancer" parece trilha sonora de seriado de ficção científica dos anos 70. "Solitude" começa estabelecendo um loop interessante mas depois dá lugar a uma guitarra solada entre blues e post-rock que não tem graça nenhuma e muito menos lirismo (que é o que ele aqui parece tentar alcançar, vide o título). "Cosmic Seance" vai um pouco para cada canto, começa como a faixa 1 e sua guitarra ameaçadora e climática, vai para o clima ameno da faixa 2 e termina com guitarra dedilhada evocando a faixa 4. "Midnight Stalking/Dawn of the Black Ohms" fecha o disco com vinte minutos que repetem em modo mais ambient a atmosfera soturna e densa da primeira faixa, com melodias enterradas ao fundo pelos efeitos hipnóticos/repetitivos de guitarra. Finalmente, o disco retoma seu vigor e nos entrega uma música focada e cheia de detalhes, certamente o momento mais trabalhado do disco em níveis de barulhos médios, graves e agudos, além de detalhezinhos que permeiam a duração da faixa. Black Ohms revela um artista ainda em busca de sua voz própria, mas que no caminho consegue algumas proezas dignas de nota e interesse. (Ruy Gardnier)
A guitarra é um instrumento curioso. Comparável apenas ao piano em termos de popularidade e penetração social, ela foi depositária não somente de aspirações em relação à música como também se tornou um instrumento ideológico de primeira ordem. No Brasil, ela foi motivo de passeata: de um lado, discursos inflamados de quem a considerava uma ameaça à "identidade nacional"; de outro, posições enérgicas de quem não via sentido algum em se posicionar contra um instrumento musical… Longa história se vai nesses pormenores… Mas, ouvindo o álbum Black Ohms do guitarrista americano Justin Wright, em seu projeto Expo 70', me veio a sensação de que a guitarra elétrica detém sua reputação arruaceira por conta do fato de que algumas de suas inflexões mais divulgadas não dão conta de seu potencial efetivo. Ilumina-se mais a guitarra "rebelde", como se fosse possível justificar a fama através do som, o que, em geral, não me parece um procedimento adequado. E digo isto porque Black Ohms traz uma série de experimentos de improviso em guitarra que, embora compartilhem timbres característicos do rock como a distorção e o delay, exploram outras intensidades destes efeitos. Uma primeira audição da faixa de abertura, "Lysergic sunrise", atesta o modo transfigurador com o qual Wright cunha as faixas: praticamente elaborada a partir do som da famigerada guitarra distorcida, a faixa se orienta mais para a produção do drone, do que para a tradicional balbúrdia roqueira. Adiante, em "Midnight Stalking/Dawn of the Black Ohms", a maior e melhor faixa do álbum, elementos eletrônicos sutis se misturam a feedbacks delicados e a manipulações de delay muito bem programadas e executadas.
Me parece, portanto, que a característica positiva de Black Ohms reside não na tentativa de alargar o espectro sonoro da guitarra, como em Fripp e, mais recentemente, Fennesz, por exemplo; mas, sobretudo, em criar uma releitura compatível com sua tradição, ainda que deslocada de seu eixo. Neste sentido, se o álbum não é exatamente bem sucedido, muito por conta de seu miolo (notadamente as faixas 3, 4 e 5), ainda assim causa admiração e prende a atenção até o fim. (Bernardo Oliveira)
SEA OF TRANQUILITY Blog
Expo '70 is a band started by Justin Wright and their music consists of drone base songs. The music on this CD is very minimalist and stark. Many of the songs here use a slow delay effect on the guitar to give a very spacey sound. The song "Solitude" is probably the best example of this; it also has strongest guitar playing of the whole CD. The last two tracks on Black Ohms remind me of Tangerine Dream styled background music. Tangerine Dream's music succeeds because they have this eerie music in the background and play a main theme over top of it. Expo '70 just has the background music and not much else.
If you are fan of minimalist or repetitive music you may enjoy this CD, also fans of Ash Ra Temple might find something to enjoy here.
Added: January 2nd 2009
Reviewer: Christian Bernier
THE SKIN OF MY TEETH Blog: Black Ohms best of 2008!
Drone. Thanks to Sunno))), drone is becoming a four-letter word. It seems everyone is stacking their amps together, playing one chord, letting it ring out for hours and releasing it that afternoon. Expo '70 have created one of the most engaging and enjoyable drone records I've heard in a while. Largely guitar based (though there are some moogs lurking beneath the surface here), 'Black Ohms' is a dark, dynamic and beautiful record. All-encompassing tones give way to fragile melodies that shift and heave like a ship lost on some dark sea while the storm clouds move in. Repeated listens are a must.
MUSIQUE MACHINE dot Com
Justin Wright's mostly one-man project Expo '70 had its beginnings in Los Angeles, prior to his relocation to Kansas City. Expo '70 was a World's Fair held in Suita, Osaka, Japan between March 15 and September 13, 1970. The theme of the Expo was 'Progress and Harmony for Mankind.' Could that be what Mr. Wright is shooting for through his recordings? It's hard to say for sure, but suffice it to say these recordings do have a sort of spiritual feel. There's a palpable sense of darkness and tension to be found in equal measure to the blissful elements, which makes for a nicely balanced listening experience.
The closest comparison that can be drawn would probably be Klaus Schultz or Cluster, as the Krautrock influence is very evident here. But it's not a carbon copy of anyone in particular, steering it well away from consideration as hollow pastiche. The fact the it's all improvised, yet entirely involving is impressive; Wright's instruments of choice are guitar and Moog, and he handles both duties with equal aplomb. If you didn't read the sleeve, you'd be hard pressed to tell whether these pieces were improvised or composed because the music is tightly constructed.
Wright's approach is different than the standard drone/ambient practitioner, and it makes for a pleasurable change of pace. That's because he goes from blissful or dark drone passages, to delay-guitar mind puzzles, to stately early Tangerine Dream-esque ambience with prog overtones without missing a step. The fact that these pieces are improvised seems to be the factor which pulls everything together; the music comes off as organic, disingenuous and devoid of pretense. From start to finish it's a winner, there's not a duff track to be found. It's got the depth required to keep you listening again and again, as there are plenty of mysteries revealed with each spin. Quite frankly it's miles better than most acts who are informed by the same influences, and the best thing I've heard so far on Beta-Lactam Ring Records, which is a pretty high recommendation.
Rating: 5 out of 5 - Erwin Michelfelder
Amplifier worship is practiced, in prime, by two oppositional sects, the gear headed cargo cult menu-as-meal it-can-be-yours-for–the-price-of-your-first-born-child book witch materialists and Expo 70’s full spectrum vibrational, on bent knees, leaning forward into the hum, gravity short circuits, just and certain, lifted by strange harmony and the gliss. of highs and lows, lows so low only a brother knows, or some Kansas City mother-lover like Justin Wright.
Expo 70 has the menace of metals, black’d and doom’d, with out the overt masculine basement boy style posturing (don’t get me wrong there still be acid light and fog machine here), in stead all is equalized: sonics, structures, emotions; balanced for the most part and where not, based-out to oblivion.
The shadow of a rainbow
All tracks on Black Ohms are solo improvisational guitar, but for the all too brief Moog piece “Emerald Fanged Dancer” and the final double-headed ghost dragon “”Midnight Stalking/Dawn of the Black Ohms” with Matt Hill joining the fuzz, pulse, buzz.
There is not something moving in the darkness.
The darkness is moving.
(You who are reading this review, check these two dudes live, the album to live ratio is as extreme as that of The Grateful Dead, excepting that Grateful Dead records suck and the two and a split I have heard by Expo 70 are awesome and Matt on keys in a Justin storm (jeez loueez) then, again,
In a bath of acid light and fog.) 8/10 -- Tim Goodwillie (10 December, 2008)
POP NEWS dot com (in French)
Lorsque, aux débuts des années quatre-vingt-dix, Dylan Carlson, dont la petite histoire ne reteint de lui que le junky qui donna le fatal fusil à un Kurt Cobain au bout du rouleau, fonda Earth, il n'imagina pas une seconde susciter autant de vocations dans le (très) lourd et sinueux sillage de sa bande de misfits. Les intentions de Carlson à l'époque étaient juste de concilier ses deux amours : le métal et les musiques répétitives, celle de La Monte Young en particulier. Dix huit ans après, Earth existe toujours, sort des disques sublimes (le dernier en date se payant même le luxe d'inviter Bill Frisell), une multitude de groupes se réclame de son héritage, certains poussant le concept de base dans des extrêmes qui sortent carrément du cadre musical tels Sunn O))), fascinants sculpteurs d'infra basses, et les étiqueteurs s'en donnent à coeur joie entre drone music, ambient metal, doom dark truc... Parmi cette descendance, on trouve une authentique pépite : Expo '70, groupe fondé à Los Angeles en 2003 autour de Justin Wright, et qui a réussi à donner un second souffle à cette scène en intégrant des influences nouvelles qui donnent à cette musique une toute autre dimension, résolument tournée vers l'éther plutôt que les profondeurs telluriques, territoire de prédilection de Earth.
Après une quinzaine d'EP et d'albums, dont certains autoproduits en CD-R, Expo '70 a désormais trouvé refuge auprès du fabuleux label de Portland Beta Lactam Ring Records, qui compte dans ses rangs quelques légendes inclassables : The Legendary Pink Dots, Nurse With Wound, les français de La Société des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux, etc. Après avoir connu de multiples changements de personnel, le groupe n'est maintenant plus que l'affaire d'une personne, Justin Wright, et son instrumentation réduite à la guitare et au synthé Moog. Et ça lui a plutôt réussi ! Car la musique de ce "Black Ohms" n'est que pure merveille d'entrelacs de drones filandreux, flottants où les répétitions de motifs de guitares sont, par instant, délicatement chahutés par des micro-événements. Pour créer ce miracle, Justin Wright invoque le minimalisme de Terry Riley, la puissance de Sunn O ))), le lyrisme d'Ash Ra Temple, la profondeur de Phill Niblock et même la fragilité de Durutti Column, pour une musique qui n'est en aucun cas juste une réinterprétation brillante de ces illustres références mais qui offre une infinité de possibilités en posant les bases d'un nouveau psychédélisme (il était donc évident de trouver Expo '70 dans la programmation de la récente exposition-festival du musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux consacrée à ce mouvement). Ce qui étonne à l'écoute de cette musique, qui sur le papier peut intimider, c'est la facilité avec laquelle elle transporte, entre douce mélancolie et hypnose. On se laisse si immédiatement envoûter par cette sombre berceuse qu'on en oublierait presque de s'attarder sur la qualité sidérante de la production. Un comble au regard du travail accompli de ce côté-là !
"Black Ohms" est tout simplement un chef-d'oeuvre, voilà c'est dit ! après ça il n'y a plus qu'à attendre fébrilement "White Ohms", sa suite, qui nous est promise pour cette année.
Pour finir, cette chose étonnante : le thème de l'exposition universelle de 1970 (qui s'est tenue à Osaka) était "Progrès et Harmonie pour 'Humanité" et après avoir écouter "Black Ohms" on se dit que le projet de Justin Wright n'a jamais aussi bien porté son nom.
Expo ’70 is Justin Wright operating since 2003, and now stationed in Los Angeles, CA. Justin plays guitar, building ambient layers of sonic expectation/dronage taping into the vibe of the psychedelic 60’s. This style of music has been, and still is being, done by probably hundreds of musicians all over the world to some extent. Layers, loops, pulsing tones, echoes, squeaks, buzzes. It’s all here in spades. This is all a dreamer’s world, the music not presenting us with any nasty surprises volume- or timbre-wise. Just the harmonically consonant atmosphere of tranquility. There is nothing new under the sun but the real point is whether it’s any good or not, whether it accomplishes its purpose, which I surmise, is the opening of the doors of perception. I think it does, although I would suggest that quiet surroundings with a minimum of distractions, darkness, and a relaxed position would aid in the effect. The acoustic isolation of headphones may also help. Space music for the inner and outer mind. If you like this kind of spaced out drone music go for it. He gets some help from Matt Hill on the last track, also on guitar.
Review by: John Gore
Solo axe-wielder Justin Wright channels extraterrestrial space mantras from beyond the corridors of space and time. Sounding like a rusted-out Cosmonaut Space Station orbitting Dylan Carlson's Earth, Expo '70 are simultaneously kosmische and megalithic, heavy as lead but light as a feather.
"Lysergic Sunrise" kicks off with a growl, ominous and nasty as you like, mainly built upon a locked brown note guitar loop, which then takes flight upon the wings of a gull, to crest into the sunset of "Mind Echo Unit"; a pensive and thoughtful hypnotic ghost-dub, as Wright's guitar chases itself down a funhouse hall of mirrors. Sad and beautiful, there's a humanity at work here, transmitted through the familiar sounds of fingers on strings, and it adds a layer of heart to the atmospheric doom/drone genre.
"Emerald Fanged Dancer" shortens things up, clockng in at a mere 2:40 of mind-melting analog synth schizophrenia. It is gloopy and gelatinous and genuinely unnerving. "Solitude" coalesces into some soulful dirge guitar, building from a repetitive 5 note guitar riff and climaxing into some melancholy soloing, that reminds me of a bummer Floyd outtake. Finally, comes the mighty two headed beast of the albums closers: "Cosmic Seance" and "Midnight Stalking/Dawn of the Black Ohms", which bring back the looming dread of "Lysergic Sunrise" with ponderous riffage, which calls to my mind some mausoleum Spaceship drifting into view, an ill portent. The cosmic synths are in full atmospheric effect, calling to mind vintage horror movie scores like the soundtrack to John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness or Goblin's work on Dario Argento's splatterfests.
The foundation of Black Ohms is built upon looped and treated electric guitar; sometimes gut rattling, sometimes cerebral, but all the ephemeral details of synths and sound effects are what makes this such a rewarding and deep listening experience, one which warrants many happy returns. There is a level of care and craftmanship here, not to mention shear SONGWRITING ability, that is sadly lacking in much Avant-Garde music. There is also some refreshing humanity amidst all the looming space stations and lost civilizations, and all of these elements combine to make Expo '70 an EXCEPTIONAL and ESSENTIAL listening experience for any fan of drone, doom, ambient, synth, or just plain good music. BLACK OHMS is a fine way to become acquainted with the band, who have been churning out records like a hot dog factory lately, (a hazard of the trade in the noise community, like hearing loss, but in this case its a good thing). All signs point to Expo '70 being a name tattooed on the hearts and bruised knuckles of many noise fiends in the VERY NEAR future. So get on board, while there's still room on the rocket ship, and while you still may be able to afford their ridiculously limited edition releases.
Reviewed by sonicwarfare, 21/11/2009