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"Mother Universe Birthed Her Last Cosmos"

Universal Tongue

2009

3"CDr

Mini DVD case. Limited to 111

 

2018

Sonic Meditations LP / CS

Edition of 300LP (200 black / 100 color) May 2018

Edition of 100 cassettes

Zoharum 2xCD

Disc 1: "Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos" & "Ostara".

Disc 2: "Woolgather Visions" & "Mechanical Elements" (Gold Soundz limited cassettes)

PRESS

 

2018

 

BRAINWASHED

Polish label Zoharum take a very deep dive into Justin Wright’s exquisite solo guitar psychedelia with this sprawling 2xCD collection of various limited Expo '70 releases.  For the most part, these extended pieces have a very drone-based and cosmic bent, but the two 2009 collaborations with Umberto's Matt Hill are legitimately transcendent and entrancing epics of slow-burning space-rock nirvana.  Giving those two pieces a well-deserved second life is unquestionably Mother Universe's raison d'être, so the remaining pieces are more for devout fans and completists (though they are also quite good in their own right).  The various physical formats all compensate for potential Expo '70 overload in their own ways, however, making it very easy to alternate between experiencing Mother Universe as a concise distillation of some of Wright's finest work or as an immersive and extended lysergic plunge.

 

Every couple of years, I go through a phase in which I quixotically make yet another concerted (and doomed) effort to like Hawkwind.  I generally love the idea of Hawkwind, but I suspect their actual music will always be too heavy-handed and indulgent to fully connect with me: the gulf between what I want them to sound like and what they actually sound like is just too wide.  The reason that I bring that up is that Wright has uncannily managed to replicate the imaginary Hawkwind that exists only in my mind with the 22-minute title piece that opens this album (it originally appeared as a CDr on Mother Tongue).   Of course, Matt Hill deserves a lot of the credit for that success as well, as his wonderfully rolling and propulsive bass line provides the perfect foundation for Wright to gradually build up a gorgeously rippling and elegant swirl of shimmering arpeggios and understated soloing that dissolves into a lingering vapor trail.  Structurally, the piece is essentially just an extended vamp, but "Mother Universe" easily transcends any limitations that may suggest, organically ebbing and flowing through rhythmic shifts and occasionally sounding like it is on verge of being sucked into a greedily whooshing black hole.  The following "Ostara," on the other hand, feels like it was sucked into that black hole and spat out the other end as a pulsing and splintered ghost of its former self.  In lesser hands, "Ostara" would probably linger forever in that state of hallucinatory deep-space suspended animation, but here it gradually evolves beyond mere ambience into a queasily roiling fantasia of cosmic dread worthy of Andrei Tarkovsky.  While that is quite a wonderfully immersive illusion, Wright still has one last trick up his sleeve, as the final moments of "Ostara" sneakily re-cohere into something approaching a song…before dissolving again into an eerie coda that sounds like a broken reel-to-reel machine endlessly repeating the same tape snippet at the wrong speed.

 

The remaining four songs are taken from the Woolgatherer Visions and Mechanical Elements tapes on Norway's Gold Soundz label and date from roughly the same period.  They are either relegated to a second disk or a supplementary download, depending on physical format, which I suppose makes them bonus tracks to some degree.  "Tropical Trip Through Acid Clouds" initially sounds like fairly standard Expo '70 fare, unfolding as a delay-heavy riff beneath a trippy haze of looping and blurred improvisation, but then it unexpectedly gives way to a pulsing and futuristic-sounding soundscape evokes the flickering corridors of a damaged and abandoned space ship.  That eventually becomes the backdrop for some more soloing, which illustrates the key difference between these four pieces and the previous two: these feel like good ideas in raw form that have not yet been edited to perfection.  Sometimes that more spontaneous approach still works wonderfully though.  The following "Hexed By A Devil in the Cemetery," for example,  is a darkly throbbing drone piece that Wright beautifully embellishes with an unsettling arsenal of echoing, spectral scrapes and uneasily quavering synth coloration.   Elsewhere, "You and Your Dreamcatcher Should Take a Hike" is a foray into buzzing and meditative minimalist synth drone, while "Neither Here Nor There (A Study)" takes a similar theme and uses it as the backdrop for a dreamily meandering flow of looping, intertwined guitar patterns.  Of the four, "Hexed," "Dreamcatcher," and "Neither Here Nor There" all stand out as understated gems, with the latter two evoking sublime, trancelike states through languorously shifting waveforms or gently buzzing and swaying clouds of echoing accumulated loops.

 

This is exactly the kind of compilation that I dearly wish there were more of in the world, as some artists are just far too prolific for me to be able to keep up with the volume of their output (Wright, Kevin Drumm, Jim O'Rourke, etc.).  Consequently, it is quite nice to have record labels around who are keen to sift through it all and illuminate great work that might have otherwise fallen into obscurity.  At best, I can keep up with Wright's major LPs, so I definitely would have missed all of the comparatively minor and considerably more limited releases assembled here ("Ostara" is from a CDr on Small Doses, incidentally).  Obviously, some of these six pieces are better than others, but they cumulatively provide a condensed overview of quite a year-long hot streak that most fans either only got a small taste of or missed altogether.  As such, Mother Universe makes a fine and varied entry point into Wright's work.  It is a body of work well worth getting acquainted with too, as Justin Wright at his best is kind of a Zen master of all things psychedelic, absorbing a wide spectrum of Eastern drone, krautrock, and heavy psych influences and distilling them into a wonderfully unhurried and understated psychotropic reverie.  Mother Universe provides a strong argument that the golden age of bands like Popul Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel never fully ended–it just took a bit of a nap before unexpectedly reawakening in Missouri.

 

 

NORMAN RECORDS

Psychedelic twiddling is still in circulation in this here 2018 so what better time than this to remind yourself Expo 70 exist? America’s finest hobbyist space station unveil yet another one of their long as hell jams, offering sweltering drone and twanging raga over an hour(!) of slowburn.

 

‘Mother Universe’ is actually an archival offering, the tunes stemming from ‘08 to ‘10 but somehow coming together as a seamless run of sound. It’s likely because Expo70’s music is so innately meditative and patient in form that it never feels out of place: the deep, hissing sauna drone of “Tropical Trip” blends quite nicely as the record’s centrepiece, its ending offering the most tranquil bit of ambience on a record full of different volumes and tones.

 

And there’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been said about Expo 70. If you’re an old fan, Justin Wright’s in fine form here, dusting off his b-sides as if they were special relics from a faraway ice planet. Newcomers have his whole aesthetic to reckon with for the first ever time, so the sheer scope of ‘Mother Universe’ might just blow them away. Sink deep and never come back.

- 7/10 Robin Staff review, 30 August 2018

 

 

MUSIQUE MACHINE

Here we have another release of archival material from Justin Wright’s Expo 70 project via Zoharum. This two disc collection gathers together two albums of rare material that was previously released in limited numbers on CD and cassette in 2008 and 2010, and has been unavailable ever since. I have a great deal of affection for this project,  Wright’s music transports me to Germany circa the early 1970s and leaves me feeling relaxed and calm. It possesses a beautiful cosmic quality that reminds me of Ash Ra Tempel and Amon Düül II.

 

The first thing one notices is that the packaging is rather lovely, comprising of the original artwork beautifully rendered as if it were a mini gatefold vinyl sleeve, with beautifully illustrated inner sleeves to enhance the package. Designed by Wright himself the sleeve is a work of cosmic artistry of the most psychedelic kind, and worthy of discussion on its own merits.

 

Moving onto the music, the first disc comprises two tracks, each exceeding twenty minutes in length. The first, the title track, is a long hypnotic spacey jam with a distinct Ash Ra Tempel influence. The whole first disc is recording using only guitar, bass and an analog drum machine.  By the time you get halfway through it’s locked into a groove and you simply can’t help but nod along. Beautiful, ambient. Psychedelic soundscapes filter out of the speakers, engulfing the listener in a wave of euphoria. A perfect way to open any album. Second track Ostara is far more drone orientated. Slowly building up layers as the track progresses, climaxing with layers or guitar riffs and finally a gentle fade out. There is a constant pulsing in the background that sets the mesmeric tone for the piece, however, the lack of a drumbeat gives the track a really spacey feel, allowing it to meander and go wherever it feels like.

 

Disc two consists of four long tracks all coming in at around fifteen minutes each. All of the music on this disc comes courtesy of Justin Wright who plays guitar, moog and voices. The opener Tropical Trip Through Acid Clouds begins as a guitar led piece, however it slows, eventually dropping right off into droney atmospheric territory. Wright has always been capable of hypnotising his audience with a very simple set up, and again he shows his skills here. Whilst very little happens during huge swathes of the track it never outstays its welcome and never becomes boring. Hexed by A Devil in the Cemetery, is a spooky ambient drone that owes as much to 1970s horror movie scores as it does to kosmische. Wright’s distorted vocals add an extra level of creepiness. You and Your Dreamcatcher Should Take A Hike is built around a fairly intense sounding central drone that spans the entire track length, while Wright’s guitar creates shapes that gently ebb and flow throughout. This results in a slightly more intense sounding meditational piece. The final track is Neither Here nor There (A Study). This is another guitar based slab of psychedelic kosmische, that builds into something quite beautiful by the time it reaches its conclusion.

 

This is another excellent release from Zoharum restoring these two great albums to us for our terpsichorean pleasure. Overall this is a beautiful atmospheric collection of ambient kosmische that more than hints at Wright’s love of 1970s German space rock. For fans of Ash Ra Tempel, Can, Neu and Amon Düül II this is a must have and proves that even in the 21st century there are still those who know how to make a great record that goes beyond the basic realms of pop music.

 

 

FREQ

Originally released as mini CDrs on different labels in 2009, Expo 70‘s Justin Wright was joined for these two lengthy sessions by Matt Hill from Umberto on both bass guitar and at the drum machine controls. And what flights of psychedelic fantasy they are, drifting and floating on ever-flowing waves of looped guitar and recursive effect pedal washes that uncurl, largely  in homage to Manuel Göttsching‘s E2E4.

 

The bass leads the way into the title track while the cascading echo FX tumble and ripple in seemingly every direction, Wright layering loops and real-time playing into an all-encompassing pot-pourri of guitar ambience. Dubwise delay trails flicker off the subtly applied rhythms, Hill’s bassline keeping steady with all the onward plodding surety of a four-legged steed setting out on a long journey. With the melodies wrapped up in feedback and recursing cyclically, it’s good to have something solid to keep the track on course as hypnosis awaits and the synaesthetic light show doubtless begins.

 

For a piece that starts all head-nodding and scintillatingly ambient, Hill ramps the dissonance up a few notches as the percussion takes the foreground, rhythm box kicks spattering and chuntering into chaotic patterns of multifaceted dimensions. The dynamic shifts that the duo undertake proceed to dissect, reflect and regurgitate the elements of the track further until it is possible to imagine some form of heat death of the universe is being explored in a micro / macrocosmic fashion.

 

Which is exactly the sort of thing that space rock is meant to do, and “Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos” demonstrates perfectly why Wright deserves the reputation as an astral navigator he has developed over the last fifteen years, and fifty and more albums. “Ostara” is even further out on the trip, buzzing and gliding at the same time, coming up from the sparest of beginnings before peaking on the crest of the drone waves and taking the long, slow descent through gently prickling forests of delay. The reverb trails soon scoop up reality and drop it in tabulated shards of sound that seem to bounce into ever-increasing, then entropically dissolving, recurrent waves and a satisfyingly final bass guitar coda.

 

The four tracks that made up Woolgather Visions and Mechanical Elements are brought together on the second disc of the CD edition and as bonus downloads for the vinyl and tape re-releases, having appeared on Gold Soundz as limited cassettes in 2009 and 2010 (as well as a CDr compilation of both sets in 2013).

 

“Tropical Trip Through Acid Clouds” has yet more of the Ashra influence to the fore, brightly chirruping notes sparking brightly at first, and there’s a mechanistic klang here too, one which underpins the rising drones. When the guitar scalds its way back to the top of the skyscraping treble infusions, Wright briefly lets his inner plank-spanker loose among the flickering delay, and it’s easy for a moment or ten to imagine him both crouched cross-legged over his instrument and standing astride a monumental speaker stack with a view over the contracting universe that the overall album title alludes to. But a sense of entropic decay sets in, the soaring plangentries are cut short and faded into meanders and byways of the background electronic hum.

 

There’s more of this sort of thing on the charmingly un-hippyish “You And Your Dream Catcher Should Take A Hike”, the electrical vibrations rising strongly into an all-pervading cosmic whirl that bursts with swarming overtones and emergent helicoptering pulsations. The mood of harmonic-shifting stasis continues on “Neither Here Nor There (A Study)”, Wright constructing those proverbial cathedrals of sound from a familiar architectural palette that nevertheless allows him to build a glittering palatial confection. Everything glides sedately in dimensions that manifest both Göttsching and Popol Vuh‘s ways of approaching a new age of psychedelic music, while remaining resolutely Expo 70 to the core. -Linus Tossio-

 

 

MUSIQUE MACHINE

Here we have another release of archival material from Justin Wright’s Expo 70 project via Zoharum. This two disc collection gathers together two albums of rare material that was previously released in limited numbers on CD and cassette in 2008 and 2010, and has been unavailable ever since. I have a great deal of affection for this project,  Wright’s music transports me to Germany circa the early 1970s and leaves me feeling relaxed and calm. It possesses a beautiful cosmic quality that reminds me of Ash Ra Tempel and Amon Düül II.

The first thing one notices is that the packaging is rather lovely, comprising of the original artwork beautifully rendered as if it were a mini gatefold vinyl sleeve, with beautifully illustrated inner sleeves to enhance the package. Designed by Wright himself the sleeve is a work of cosmic artistry of the most psychedelic kind, and worthy of discussion on its own merits.

 

Moving onto the music, the first disc comprises two tracks, each exceeding twenty minutes in length. The first, the title track, is a long hypnotic spacey jam with a distinct Ash Ra Tempel influence. The whole first disc is recording using only guitar, bass and an analog drum machine.  By the time you get halfway through it’s locked into a groove and you simply can’t help but nod along. Beautiful, ambient. Psychedelic soundscapes filter out of the speakers, engulfing the listener in a wave of euphoria. A perfect way to open any album. Second track Ostara is far more drone orientated. Slowly building up layers as the track progresses, climaxing with layers or guitar riffs and finally a gentle fade out. There is a constant pulsing in the background that sets the mesmeric tone for the piece, however, the lack of a drumbeat gives the track a really spacey feel, allowing it to meander and go wherever it feels like.

 

Disc two consists of four long tracks all coming in at around fifteen minutes each. All of the music on this disc comes courtesy of Justin Wright who plays guitar, moog and voices. The opener Tropical Trip Through Acid Clouds begins as a guitar led piece, however it slows, eventually dropping right off into droney atmospheric territory. Wright has always been capable of hypnotising his audience with a very simple set up, and again he shows his skills here. Whilst very little happens during huge swathes of the track it never outstays its welcome and never becomes boring. Hexed by A Devil in the Cemetery, is a spooky ambient drone that owes as much to 1970s horror movie scores as it does to kosmische. Wright’s distorted vocals add an extra level of creepiness. You and Your Dreamcatcher Should Take A Hike is built around a fairly intense sounding central drone that spans the entire track length, while Wright’s guitar creates shapes that gently ebb and flow throughout. This results in a slightly more intense sounding meditational piece. The final track is Neither Here nor There (A Study). This is another guitar based slab of psychedelic kosmische, that builds into something quite beautiful by the time it reaches its conclusion.

 

This is another excellent release from Zoharum restoring these two great albums to us for our terpsichorean pleasure. Overall this is a beautiful atmospheric collection of ambient kosmische that more than hints at Wright’s love of 1970s German space rock. For fans of Ash Ra Tempel, Can, Neu and Amon Düül II this is a must have and proves that even in the 21st century there are still those who know how to make a great record that goes beyond the basic realms of pop music.

 

 

VER SACRUM

Continua la riproposizione, da parte della Zoharum, di materiale d’archivio del progetto Expo 70 del chitarrista Justin Wright che, nel corso del tempo, ha creato un universo sonoro dedito a sonorità elettroniche evanescenti e cosmiche in linea con quanto fatto da Manuel Gottsching con gli Ash Ra Tempel negli anni ’70. Il disco in oggetto, intitolato Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos, raccoglie registrazioni effettuate nel biennio 2008-2010 che avevano visto la luce solo CDRs e cassetta. Si tratta così di una ristampa quantomai gradita in quanto rende ancora disponibile della musica di assoluta qualità e assolutamente non secondaria nella carriera di Expo ’70. In particolare la lunga title-track – oltre 22 minuti – è un brano pazzesco che fa rivivere dinosauri come gli Amon Duul II e gli Ash Ra Tempel! Il basso pulsante, i suoni liquidi della chitarra e le tastiere spaziali mi hanno fatto tornare con la memoria alle improvvisazioni drogate presenti in quel capolavoro senza tempo che è Yeti, una autentica pietra miliare del rock europeo degli anni ‘70. Anche la successiva “Ostara” è significativa in quanto documenta, assieme a “Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos”, quella che era la formazione iniziale composta da 3 elementi denominata Expo Seventy a differenza di Expo 70 che si riferisce al solo Justin Wright. Il secondo cd racchiude invece 4 tracce di circa 15 minuti l’una che sono basate sulle composizioni soliste di Justin Wright e vedono l’unione di suoni trattati di chitarra – sull’esempio dei dischi solisti di Manuel Gottsching – a quelli del sintetizzatore Moog. Si tratta di un complemento ideale al’ascolto del primo disco. Il cd esce in una bella copertina apribile nello stesso sitle delle edizioni vynil-replica giapponesi.

 

 

2009

 

UNIVERSAL TONGUE LABEL

In the saturated drone scene of today, Justin Wright has been able to establish his name with his space oriented sound, reminiscent of some lost 70’s psyche sounds. A 22+ mns astral jam with guitar,bass & analogue drum machine. 3" black CDr in a mini-DVD case, limited to 111 numbered copies, double-sided covers. Artwork by J. Wright.

 

 

AQUARIUS RECORDS List No. 331

What more can we say about these guys that we haven't already. Masters of divine sci-fi spacekraut dronemusic, sprawling epics that drift heavenward, guitars swirl and pulse, bass throbs and rumbles, rhythms don't pound or shuffle as much as pulse, a gloriously cosmic ur-rock that is not about rocking at all, but instead about sitting back and drifting off, letting the music lull you into a state of suspended animation, moving inward before moving outward, expanding like a new universe being born. All of the above imagery is especially apt to describe Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos, a one track, 20 minute space drone kraut jam from our beloved Expo 70. The main guitar part is surprisingly active, as is the bass, there's a definite groove here, the song has propulsion, and moves with purpose, the sound of a timelapse camera capturing the stars blinking out one at a time, viewed through a capsule full of bong smoke. Dreamy druggy and divine.

 

 

But it's not all drift here, about 8 or 9 minutes in, an old drum machine rears up and unfurls a looped beat, the guitars lock in, and suddenly this is some sort of transcendent drugged out hypnospace loop, which almost sounds like a skipping Hawkwind record, so completely mesmerizing and AWESOME. Eventually the drums drift off, and leave the throbbing bass and shimmering guitars to complete the journey on their own.

 

 

LIMITED TO 111 COPIES! We got 40 of those, and won't be able to get more. So get while the getting's good. And like all Universal Tongue releases, the packaging is super cool, full color inserts in little mini 5" high clear dvd sleeves, each one hand numbered.

 

 

MY RECORD COLLECTION dot org

The 3"CD format works very well for Expo '70. This isn't the first time they've released music this way and every time it's been magical. Since the media is able to hold over twenty minutes worth of music, it seems perfect for those the artist's long, epic sound journeys. Housed in a peculiar mini-DVD case with stunning full color psychedelic artwork, Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos feels like a significant release in Expo '70's discography. The music within is unmistakably trippy and retro and yet somehow, the duo manage still manage to make this one sound new and exciting. The piece starts off slowly with a shimmering guitar loop which is soon joined by one of the funkiest background melodies I've yet to hear from the artist (that bassline!) It builds up from there, Her belly slowly swelling, but once that motorik beat comes in, with the concentrated power of Neu!, she's gone into labor and it's time to deliver that cosmos.

 

 

PSYCHATRONE RHONEDAKK Blog

"Mother Universe Has Birthed Her Last Cosmos"...is a 3 inch CD-R thingy with another "chick" cover, but this one more obscured(by Clouds?). Here frail chiming guitars start this piece, soon bass-y strumming compliment the mix causing all sorts of mind flashes in a stroboscopic heat-haze of rhythm and shimmer. This piece constantly changes over it's 23-ish minute voyage....getting more propulsive(which this release is more of over-all) and then more floating,and all perfectly carried off too! Incredible! A very nice voyage for your mind's eye.

 

 

ZERO TOLERANCE #33

This is another odd release by the Kansas City crew. One track clocking in at 22-and-a-half minutes that's based around a repeating loop from which additional elements are introduced as the music unravels. It exudes a hypnotic, retro feel though, and particularly fills the brain when played through headphones - quite obviously the aim. This isn't a disc to be fired up at a booze-fueled after-party, more the kind that you'd expect to hear oozing from the speakers at some shindig where half the crowd have smoked their weight in dope and are laying bleary eyed and barely coherent.

 

 

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