"Live in the Pit on KFJC 89.7 FM" CDr & Poster bonus with pre-orders
AQUARIUS RECORDS LIST NO. 323
What else to say really about Expo 70 that we haven't already? Every new release is another gorgeous, softly psychedelic transmission from soft distant corner of the universe. Stray broadcasts traveling across the expanses of space, a sort of timeless music that sounds more like it just IS, and always WAS, more than it sounds created. Justin Wright who is Expo 70, seems to dismantle his guitar at the molecular level, once cracked open, his now rended axe emits a stream of notes and melodies, opens a portal, unleashing a slow burning black fog of sound and texture, through which one can observe and experience other worlds and alternate dimensions.
Heavy crumbling blackness settles atop hushed drifts of crystalline melodic shimmer, eventually transforming into something much more songy, a super druggy spaced out psych jam of the highest order, sounding a bit like Santana fronting SUNNO))), dense rumbling buzz drenched swells beneath super emotional almost wailing leads.
The flipside is another otherworldly songsuite, this one divided into three parts, slipping from minimal and looped to crushing and doomy to hushed and murky and space-y. The opener is a gorgeous spaced out bit of repetitive, stripped down new age kraut rock, a main pulse throbs beneath swirls of warm keyboards, simple chordal strum and muted electronics, super hypnotic and mesmerizing and quite possibly one of our favorite Expo jams yet.
The second track is a thick roiling swirl of crumbling distorted heaviness, slow sprawling chords overlapping into a doomy textured expanse of tarpit riff fueled ambience, before dissipating into part three, a murmured post industrial soundscape that sounds like a field recording of some derelict space station set to music. Creepy and haunting and also quite lovely.
Killer packaging, thick full color sleeve, with a printed full color Japanese style obi, inside, a 12"x24" silk screened poster, and a bonus cd-r, featuring a live set, recorded on KFJC back in 2008.
Posted in Experimental Records on March 23rd, 2009
Drone-heads take heed, Justin Wright has been quietly and steadily pushing his psychedelic noise gospel straight out of Kansas City and into your useless skull cavities for quite some time now. Either you love this stuff or you don’t, but if you do, you owe it to yourself to check out his Expo ‘70 project as soon as possible. Right now he has two releases coming out on the vinyl format. First up is a preorder from Peasant Magik called Psychosis pressed on 180-gram black vinyl with a silk screened 12? x 24? insert and OBI strip. As a bonus, all pre-orders will receive a free CD-r featuring a live performance. If you simply must blow your speakers out as soon as possible, then Fedora Corpse has another 12? available right now– Night Flights is pressed on heavy colored vinyl and housed in a silk-screened raw kraft jacket. Both of these releases are extremely limited, act soon if not now. Psychosis at peasantmagik.com, Night Flights at fedoracorpse.com.
MY RECORD COLLECTION DOT ORG
Whenever I get bummed out or feel the need to drift off somewhere, almost nothing hits the spot more than pulling out one of Expo '70's albums. Some are more potent than others at making me lift off quicker, but they usually all do the trick. But now here comes Psychosis, with it's two side-long suites and I've been traveling at the speed of light ever since the needle hit the wax. The Sleeping Corpse side, which sounds like the soundtrack to some zombie flick (check out those titles), is slightly heavier than it's counterpart, but believe me this imaginary film is one wicked head trip which will either scare the socks off ya or put you in a zombie-like trance (without the need for brains). Widow Planet is slightly more ambient and will guarantee you a rapid state of astral projection. Haunting The Terrain is particularly trippy with it's bass-heavy drones and dark atmosphere. Pre-orders for this LP also came with a bonus CD featuring an hour long radio session.
Expo 70 ain't no slouch either. Seems like every time we blink there's a new Expo 70 jam coming our way and we're definitely not complaining about it. Expo 70 does drone better than just about anybody else in the genre. His records have exquisite depth and fantastic layering and are generally quite compelling. The new LP Psychosis on the Peasant Magik label is no exception. Justin Wright of Expo 70 is an amazing artist as well; the artwork on the jacket and the 12" x 24" screen printed insert are both prime examples of his work. This one is limited to 500 copies and definitely won't last long. The new Expo 70 tape oughta be here soon as well.
First off, I have to say that this is simply a gorgeous looking LP. The sleeve design has a weird 1970's psychedelic space ritual feel to it- nice orange and green color scheme augmented by galaxies and skulls. Add to that mix a fold out poster full of bizarre mythology and a thick 180-gram vinyl pressing and you've got my attention. It's obvious that the label and the band put a great deal of thought into presenting this record, and it's impossible for that not to have an impact on how the music is received.
Given the nature of the cover artwork I was expecting something kind of spacey and psychedelic from "Psychosis", and Expo 70 did an excellent job of delivering just that. Sure, there is an obvious homage to the early space explorations of Tangerine Dream going on here, maybe mixed with a little slice of Sabbath for good measure- but it doesn't feel like mere hollow imitation. Instead, it's like Expo 70 is tapping into a current that has been left vacant- the current of pure deep droning space rock stripped down to it's barest essence. It's a peculiar blend of heavy music that isn't quite doom and not purely drone, but instead hovers in its own space between genres and labels. It's a mixture that is both comforting and explorative- a blend of sedating low-end rumbles, textural washes of noise, minimal riffs, and the occasional epic lead guitar line that burns through the mix. Each side is composed with a laid back clarity that is never forced, but rather just seems to fall into place. The only instruments present are guitar and bass, filtered through a little delay and distortion. Using this familiar sonic pallette allows Expo 70 to keep one foot grounded in reality while gradually shifting the listener's focus from structure to abstraction and back again.
I'm impressed by the presence of Expo 70, both sonically and visually. While there are other artists working with similar methods, few can pull it off as well. I can see them easily branching out in new directions while still maintaining their strong roots that are present on this album. 9/10 -- Charles Franklin (22 July, 2009)
KEXP: Agitated Atmosphere
As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Expo ‘70.
Justin Wright, also known as Expo ‘70, is a true mixologist. His blend of static drones, heavy riffage, acid-washed psychedelia, and earth-shaking low-end births music that not even Jefferson Airplane and Black Sabbath could have created with the perfect set of circumstances; the formula has yet to be created by science and nature is too fearful of the power such a unity would yield. Thankfully, Wright is the anomaly he is because just one Expo ‘70 is more than enough for those who have dreamed off the day that San Francisco and Birmingham were forged into one.
Psychosis, Justin Wright’s latest for Peasant Magik, has more scorched earth left behind in its path than William Tecumseh Sherman ever dreamed of producing. Each side of Psychosis is its own complete thought, only disturbed by slight changes in the personality of the track. Side A is spent dissecting “Sleeping Corpse,” a three-part jam that is slower, heavier, and darker than many doom acts would ever attempt. It is seven minutes into the 9-minute “Into Body” before the first signs of guitar are to be found. Wright has buried his six strings under layers of drone—at first mechanical yet tranquil, but before long “Into Body” is bursting open at the seams, seeping thickets of bubbling static. When Wright’s guitar has finally pushed its way to the top, it dares not to stop. “Cold Forecasting,” the second act of “Sleeping Corpse” is akin to Earth’s (the band, not the planet) Dylan Carlson’s infinite refrains with two monotonous chords seesawing back and forth below a majestic solo that soars high like an acid trip, finally dissolving into “Breaking the Dirt.”
The B-side of Psychosis again splits itself among three acts, this time titled “Widow Planet.” Part one, “Left to Die,” begins ominously, with pulsating bass that recalls Pink Floyd’s “Sheep.” Much like Side A, it takes quite awhile before the first guitar note is played—well into part two’s “Stark Bleakness Rising.” Unlike its Side A counterpart, “Widow Planet” focuses on lighter drones and carefully placed reverberation to create a mode more somber than “Sleeping Corpse” conjures. Psychosis finishes with “Haunting the Terrain,” which cleanses the palate and is an easy comedown after the high of the album’s first five pieces. Psychosis is only for the most fearless psychedelics considering Justin Wright nosedives down to Earth’s (the planet, not the band) hot core. As the journey gains momentum and the temperatures rapid rises, you’ll begin to feel faint and weak. Psychosis is an endurance test of the highest degree, and should you pass it you’ll find yourself eager to take the ride again and again.
by Justin Spicer
Written by Creaig Dunton
Sunday, 13 September 2009
With these two being recorded in 2008, it is not surprising that these two LPs from this solo project have a similar sound and vibe to them, though both do go in somewhat different directions, with Psychosis focusing on the droning slow space rock material, while Night Flights opens the sonic pallet up to include more than just guitar and bass, but primitive analog electronics as well. They both definitely take minimalist droning guitar into a more astral plane than usual, however.
Psychosis is actually two side-long tracks, "Sleeping Corpse" and "Widow Planet," that are each broken into three shorter pieces. The former suite is somewhat lighter and ambient while the latter crosses the line into darker drone territory. "Into Body," the first part of "Sleeping Corpse," begins with deep undulating bass drones and echo chamber guitar scrapes. The low end gets pushed into noise territory while the guitar scrapes eventually morph into more prog-rock like soloing. The overt guitar playing reappears in "Cold Forecasting," where it begins as simple two chord rhythms but shifts into pure soloing that is a bit reminiscent of Earth’s recent blues/country infused sound, though here it is in addition to a noise driven backing.
"Left to Die," the opening movement of "Widow Planet," has a more traditional organic guitar ambient sound with a hint of dubby bass that puts it in league with Main circa Motion Pool: it has a looped sound that is depressive and dark. The style continues into "Stark Bleakness Rising," which pulls away the bass and instead showcases slow, repeated guitar riffs with some more guitar soloing on top. The closing "Haunting the Terrain" goes even farther into sonic space, having a more traditional dark ambient/industrial influenced sound that still shows exceptional analog warmth while keeping the conventional guitar sound at bay.
Night Flights, on the other hand, is four distinct tracks that expand the instrumental repertoire. "Transcending Energy from Light" has a distinct Moog pulse with the occasional perceptible guitar note and high frequency vacuum cleaner shriek. The sound ends up in a swirly psychedelic vortex with only the occasional noisy synth stab or clear guitar note escaping. "Alpestrine Fog" keeps the low end synth pulse but with warmer guitar tones that are a bit more inviting and less space-y than the previous one.
"Cognac Smoke" is probably the most dynamic track of both LPs, which actually has some rhythmic movement due to the old school Suicide-esque analog drum machine that propels the pitch bent guitar noises and bird-call like shrieks along. The closing “Seismic Nuances” recalls the looped guitar chaos, with proggy guitar solos to distinguish it.
With the guitar based drone sound staying popular, more and more artists need to carve out their own niche to simply not get lost among the detuned chords and sustain pedals. Expo ’70 does so by adding that liberal dash of '60s psych and '90s dark ambience to the fray. While there are the occasional bits of sameness within each album, as a whole they are a good mix of the familiar and new.
The first LP by Peasant Magik and proprietor Sal cuts no corners but walks a pentagram for good measure. Secreted in a thick, glossy sleeve there is perhaps the thickest piece of vinyl I have held, built to retain the fidelity of PM’s moodful cassettes and ideal for the swelling mastery of Expo 70. And Justin Wright’s doom/drone psychedelia is built for this legacy, drifting between stretches of granular drones to striped rhythms of OM OM which are only enhanced by the format as a precious tablet rather than some fragment of vanity. Made for semi-conscious activity – the least of which is listening – the LP explodes the grains of sound dust like the Hubble images of the accompanying art, spatially amplifying the unmistakable strikes of guitar to a higher stratosphere of noise which obscures the tools of amp worship to blend with the rich wealth of “other” sounds.
Moving from pocked static to lapping waves of reverb, the late-appearing guitar of intro “Into Body” gives the impression not of addition, but expedition, as though a topos of tectonic sounds were at play and the eye of the recorder merely passes over. Convening in places with bassist Matt Hill, Wright plays loosely with kraut references (the only way left to do so) as in the searing acid of “Cold Forecasting”, taking a backward standpoint planted in the minimalism of his contemporaries, through Kranky atmospheres and back into the shag. Subtly-split into two side-long suites titled “Sleeping Corpse” and “Widow Planet”, the titling scheme overreaches these nonsymbolic works though the headings do gesture to vague differences in color and timbre (most notably in the camp undercurrents of pixilation on the second, “cosmic” side). It’s best to disregard these as the recursive patterns and carefully-cracked patina of tracks like “Stark Bleakness Rising” and “Haunting the Terrain” offer no separation of song nor theme. With the sophistication of Steven Smith’s meditations as Ulaan Khol, the six in-bled tracks of ‘Psychosis’ reverse the transaction of the kitsch loft-space raga to aestheticize such ritual rather than pretend one, in turn generating actual effects on the listener. Edition of 500 copies, and each is highly recommended. (Peasant Magik LP)