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Expo 70 / Plankton Wat

Decacle Records


LP (edition of 500 black vinyl)








Orchestrated by Debacle Records proprietor Sam Melancon, this split 12” between Portland’s Dewey Mahood, aka Plankton Wat, and Justin Wright, aka Expo ‘70, was opportune to say the least - he caught an interview with Mahood, who expressed interest in working with Wright, in the abstract, and stepped things up by putting the two in touch. Wright now performs in a touring trio and the recent shift in Mahood’s direction, since leaving Eternal Tapestry and settling into the stylistic direction of his Mirror Lake EP for Sound of Cobra, makes the timing of the collaboration even more appropriate, coming at a crux point for both projects. In execution, the two sides of the split acquire distinct characters; Wright’s work darker than Mahood’s organic compositions, despite any sense that pairing the two would yield overt similarities. Wright moves forward on loops, blistering drones, here and there a cascade of synths, while Mahood sets a less rigorous pace and offsets it initially with psychedelic eddies, plucked strings that reverberate through open space ricocheting off the edges of more densely packed drones. A more charged place to locate the meat of their collaboration, Wright’s explicit nostalgia acts as an oblique interrogation of agency in Mahood’s introspection Though the body of his songs are very different from Wright’s work, the two sections hinge effectively on Mahood’s first piece; an unintended bridge, before he immerses himself more fully in the depths of British folk rock. Together, the split reveals the substantial, dynamic energy that both men build into their music. Expo ‘70 continues to prepare new collaborations, while Mahood is preparing a new album, Drifter’s Temple, with Thrill Jockey — to be released September 17th.




The unification of intense zoners Plankton Wat and Expo '70 seems like a stroke of destiny. Not to imply some sort of flimsy telos here, but it was really just a matter of time before the two frontiersmen of that liminal psychedelic space between rock and drone came together on a single piece of auditory plastic. Former Eternal Tapestry member, Dewey Mahood-- on his side as Plankton Wat-- gets into some real heavy Dead Man-style jams, while Expo '70's Justin Wright goes face down in the ambient muck, so to speak. Each complement one another like two sides of a spatio-temporally elusive coin. In addition to teaming up for this split LP, each artist has a new album coming in the short term future. Thrill Jockey releases Plankton Wat's Drifter's Temple on September 17 and Expo '70 is about to release some archival jams with Umberto.




The Split: That Holy Thing, That Moment that would not have happened, would not have existed, had a label not realized that it could be That Holy Thing, or had the artists themselves not capitalized on such an opportunity and seized That Holy Thing by the scruff of its neck and droned the fuck out of it to pump out A Classic. It’s like a collaboration, but it’s really more than that. Two sides of a disc, separated by miles of geography and united by telepathic proximity. Yes, this is just a record, and yes these are two different people doing two different pieces of music, divided from one another — but that was before. “Split” describes a previous, past separation, but now, this is One. And so The Split, we realize, is actually not entirely split. It is The One. And perhaps it is better described as both — in terms of disparate styles, takes, approaches, and also as The Singularity, The Goal, The Ends that it most certainly is. This is The Split.


This example between Plankton Wat’s Dewey Mahood and Expo ‘70’s Justin Wright in particular plays into the paradoxical simultaneity of The Split better than others I’ve encountered of late. A glowing warmth / A frigid chill — environment. A crawl / A glide — movement. A collective ensemble / A solitary confinement — performance. “Faded Photographs” / “Subtle Afterthoughts” — an image. Mahood playing into an arranged band format with the lazy lope of drums and bass, long strides and deep breaths. It is a night drive, sadly serenaded by sharp electric guitar, trudging its way around a minor mode. Expo ‘70, Justin Wright, extending a drone out into the air like a limb or tree branch, a dead harmony discovering its life, softly breathing in and out, generating its own heat for survival against surrounding cold, as the bells of a clock tower chime the passing hours.


The two are brought together in sound and vision by Debacle Records’ Sam Melancon for what must be a wholly enveloping 12-inch experience, an experience that may be pre-ordered directly from the label as of today.




Seattle-based Debacle Records is releasing what looks like an amazing split 12-inch of new material by Expo '70 (Kansas City's Justin Wright) and Plankton Wat (Portland's Dewey Mahood, also of Eternal Tapestry and Edibles), both of whom played at this year's Debacle Fest. You can hear a cut by each artist below.


Expo '70's "Subtle Afterthoughts" is one of those subtly fluctuating, low-moaning drones to which I could literally listen all day (and night). To paraphrase, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie, it's got me floating in a most peculiar way. Hearing Plankton Wat's "Faded Postcard" is like descending a glistening waterfall in slow motion. It's an upliftingly morose blues instrumental that echoes the beautiful desolation of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer."