CDr (edition of 50)
"Live in the Pit 2008 / 2010" 2xCD (edition of 500)
SONIC MEDITATIONS RELEASE
Recorded live on air, November 5th, 2010.
ZOHARUN RELEASE 2017
Expo 70 is turning into one of the leading projects related to Zoharum. Until now we have already released three albums of this project. The first one was the new album "Frozen Living Elements" containing three space-rock improvisations performed by a trio led by Justin Wright. Along with this album Zoharum released the reissue of "Corridors to Infinity" expanded with an bonus disc. This double album is almost two hours long of organ-based recordings inspired by krautrock. The third one is "Solar Drifting", a compilation of recordings from smaller formats, showing the project in shorter, more concise forms.
The fourth position of Expo 70 in Zoharum catalogue is the double album "Live in the Pit-KFJC 89.7FM". It collects two live studio on-air performances, held on KFJC in Los Altos Hills California in 2008 and in 2010. The recordings were separately released, in tiny editions. 2008 as a bonus CDr to “Psychosis” LP and 2010 as a tour CDr. These are two improvised suites played with minimal means, 2008 features the duo as Matt Hill joined Wright on a couple of short tours, 2010 shows Wright solo. Hypnotic, lazy guitar sounds supported with rudimentary drum machine parts are the perfect soundtrack for the pilots of spaceships, even if they are imaginary. Somewhere far away in the background you can hear the echoes of the concert side of Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma", "Atem" by Tangerine Dream, "Trip Flip Out-Meditation" by Zweistein or "Impressionen '71" by Damenbart.
The CDs are housed in gatefold sleeve in the vein of Japanese-style vinyl replica and is strictly limited to 500 copies. The cover is based on the original 2010 session limited release, designed Wright himself. The whole production process was overseen by Michał Porwet.
RELEASE DATE 27.02.2017
Continuing their series of re-released (and new) Expo 70 albums, Zoharum present a double CD set gathering together two radio sessions recorded in 2008 and 2010 on KFJC 89.7 radio in Los Altos Hills, California. Originally self-released by Justin Wright on his own Sonic Meditations imprint as separate CD-Rs, the two discs are lovingly repackaged in a double mini-gatefold style with all the due care and attention that a label like Zoharum can lavish upon them. The only regret, of course, is that the stupendously sinister and brain-melting psychedelic sleeve art (which originally appeared on the 6 November 2010 album) isn’t reproduced on an LP-sized vinyl sleeve — but at upwards of fifty minutes per session, that’s not likely to happen, at least not easily.
So much for the packaging. The first CD contains the KFJC session of 20 August 2008 and in characteristic Expo 70 style, opens into a languorous excursion coasting on widscreen waves of solo guitar and a (quite restrained) plethora of effects courtesy of Wright, while Matt Hill offers up some seared bass explorations to the mix. Imagine the joy at tuning across the dials late one night — presuming this was broadcast in the hours of darkness, to which it seems eminently suited — and encountering Expo 70 in full driftalong mode on the Californian airwaves, or an internet stream (perhaps even on the International Space Station) and becoming inveigled into the soft melodic sweeps before eventually being pulled into the stratosphere and beyond by the cycling washes of fuzz, feedback and delay.
About forty minutes in, the tone changes with a drop to hovering drones before a choppy, short-phase reverberant guitar and throbbing bass pull up sticks and plot a course for the further reaches of the astrolabe that Hawkwind have mapped beforehand. While a duo can’t reasonably be expected to entirely fulfil the space rock mission that implies, Wright and Hill do their damndest. Even if they don’t have the crew numbers assembled for a complete Space Ritual, they give it their all in a brief burn for the inner planets, if not quite achieving inter-system travel on this occasion. Shuffling out on the shimmering pulsations of an analogue drum machine to enliven the sense of motion, they close the disc with a pleasant ambient meander.
A shade over two years later, the 2010 set on disc two feels more assured, even though it’s just Wright at the controls of his guitar, Moog and drum machine this time around. Rolling in on broad-spectrum synth and effects tones, the characteristic deep-throated burn of the Moog and the deliciously chunky beat of the drum machine initiate almost an hour of smoothly-transforming psychedelia. Wright almost cautiously lets the robot drummer unfurl a hesitant groove, keeping the hissing hats and fractious snare in check as the synthesizer holds down a persistent throb while his guitar gently loops into the aether.
So far, so Berlin School, and once the percussion is allowed to fade (it’s questionable that it could have sustained nearly an hour of more or less the same sounds), it’s soon blissed-out as usual for Expo 70, recursive swirls, subtle string-bend reverberations, Moog curlicues and gliss guitar repetitions layered until the whole edifice has seemingly self-transformed from the identifiably musical opening into something further abstracted and so very much more fried by the journey’s conclusion.
Playing live is one art form, playing live into a recording device is another (and one of Wright’s favoured approaches), but the inherent uncertainty of performing a radio session with probably just an engineer and/or producer for an audience makes for a particular set of circumstances in which to send music into the possibly uncaring, unlistening void. Much like sending signals into space for extra-terrestrial civilisations to pick up, in fact; but with Expo 70’s records, it’s hard to tell sometimes whether the sounds are rooted spiritually on terra firma, or more likely, somewhere much, much further out. -Linus Tossio-
The latest release on Zoharum records from Expo 70 is a double live CD bursting with almost 2 full hours of material from Kansas drone master/space explorer Justin Wright. The group occasionally features other musicians particularly in the live setting. The first disc features Wright on electric guitar and Matt Hill on bass and analog drum machine, while disc two features a solo live performance from Wright on electric guitar, moog and analog drum machine.
Disc one was recorded August 20, 2008, opening with a hypnotic beat and guitar drones this fifty-eight-minute drone kicks this set under way. Comparisons to a laid back Can or Hawkwind are evident from the first few bars, and while Hill creates a motorik backing, Wright is able to experiment and play with the sounds he is able to tease out of his guitar. There are points at which the guitar become quite abrasive, and yet it just fades back into the mix again and coils and lays waiting to attack again. After 11 minutes things drop down almost as if to start a new song. This section of the track is much more ambient in style, with some more restrained guitar adding colour over the top. At around the twenty-minute mark, the drones begin to build again as the track gathers its second wind, harsher drone guitars are introduced around this time, before dropping off into ambient territory again at around the 34 minute mark. A classic Hawkwind-esque riff arrives at around the forty-minute mark but is short lived as the ambient drones’ re-take control of the ship for the final fifteen minutes.
Disc two was recorded November 6, 2010, over two full years after the recording for the first disc. Opening with some fantastically heavy organ sounds, this represents something far less ambient, and meatier in its opening exchanges. Heavy synth drones and some heavy effect driven guitar fire us into space, and by the time we reach the ten-minute mark a hypnotic electronic beat has been added to the equation. What the beat does is centre us, and the whole thing begins to swirl and weave in and around the beat. Wright’s guitar work creates beautiful soundscapes that can veer off in all directions. At fifteen minutes in things change again and it hints at a darker, harder psychedelia, however this is short lived and we again get some immense guitar screams and wails before things drop right down to an almost hypnotic drift through space. The rest of the track relies heavily on laid back drones and some experimental guitar work to keep the ambient Hawkwind vibe alive.
Overall this is a wonderful album featuring two long spacey jams (58 and 50 minutes respectively) that really capture the spirit of 1970s space rock and ambient electronics. One is reminded of Hawkwind performing their most laid back instrumental freak outs, with a little help from 1970s kosmische legends Can. Both performances are excellent and as usual Expo 70 really do benefit from the longer form jams. This is one of the finest albums I’ve heard in 2017, by a band who can do no wrong in my eyes. If you like ambient/drone/kosmische/space rock, then strap yourself in as this one’s for you.