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"Solar Drifting"

Zoharum

2015

CD

 

Sonic Meditations

2015

CS (edition of 100)

 

 

 

PRESS

 

 

ZOHARUM / SONIC MEDITATIONS RELEASE

A collection of previously released and now out-of-print singles and an EP from 2008-2012. Compiled, arranged for an album and newly mastered for a unique listening experience. While most of Justin Wright's project is a vast collection of long-form songs that span hours upon hours of listening material, this collects short snippets into the wold that Wright has created. The general idea behind Expo '70 is letting an idea evolve and take shape over time, collected here are either snippets of long-form jams or general ideas tailored for a shorter piece of music. Works are compiled from a split 7" and 3" CDr released in collaboration between Short Forest and Small doses, two 7" releases from Trensmat and Eat, Sleep, Repeat with an EP released on Wright's own label Sonic Meditations. The cover illustration is from the "Sunglasses" 7" and was an initial design option. A great starting point for people afraid to jump into the vast discography of Expo '70.

 

 

NORMAN RECORDS

7/10 from Robin (Staff) on 09 July 2015

Justin Wright’s project is about where the journey takes him, not us; improvising around synths and drifting into tectonic shifts in sound, his compositions take an ambient framework and busy it with accidental information, each effect or flourish disrupting an otherwise steadfast piece of music. On ‘Solar Drifting’, he collects blaring kosmische jams that never became longform compositions, the bits of song that developed but didn’t end. Think of this record of sound bites as Wright’s version of a Franz Kafka novel; it’s quite compelling but it ends on the word “and”.

 

In actuality, these pieces can still be long and droning; “Soft Wave Continuum” opens up proceedings with an aggressive sustained synth that bubbles for ten minutes before giving way to “Transcending Energy From Light”, Wright’s discordant version of a new age piece. Condensed into five minutes, this piece feels more suffocating than your standard Expo 70; the track glares with its ambient soundscape but never quite travels elsewhere. Collating these odd tracks actually makes them sound harsher than anything Wright’s done, his electronics sounding sharp and whining and staying in that lane semi-permanently. See “Crawling Through Crystal Skies” -- as its name implies, it takes something celestial and makes it feel like a punishment.

 

When I last heard from Expo 70, the pieces sounded warm if chaotic, but here they sound quite the opposite -- foreboding, even frightening, and less obsessed with chance modulation and cunning effects. Those can appear, but usually through piercing feedback or unkind modular explosions, things that help carry the current of evil; “Sunglasses” is Wright channeling Sunn O))), and ‘Solar Drifting’ is him channeling some sort of drone devil.

 

 

LUX ATENEA WEBZINE

Edición reseñada: CD en ecopak de tres paneles, edición limitada de 500 unidades (RECIBIDO COMO PROMOCIONAL)

Fecha de publicación: Mayo 2015

Sello discográfico: ZOHARUM

Código de referencia: ZOHAR 099-2

Tracklist: 1- Soft Wave Continuum // 2- Transcending Energy From Light (Excerpt) // 3- Solar Drifting // 4- Crawling Through Crystal Skies // 5- Tarot Reading // 6- A1V // 7- Sunglasses // 8- Electric Waves // 9- Heterotopia

Artistas: Justin Wright

Trabajo musical: Escrito por Justin Wright

Diseño Artístico: Justin Wright (diseño gráfico), Ashley Lande (imagen)

Datos técnicos: Temas grabados y mezclados entre los años 2008 y 2011 por Justin Wright, masterizado por Scott Colburn

Composiciones musicales que escucharás mil veces: 2- Transcending Energy From Light (Excerpt) // 3- Solar Drifting // 4- Crawling Through Crystal Skies // 7- Sunglasses // 8- Electric Waves // 9- Heterotopia

 

Crear un recopilatorio de temas musicales publicados anteriormente en ediciones ya agotadas y difíciles de conseguir (vinilo 7”, CDr, cassettes...), es siempre una oportunidad cultural única dentro de la escena musical underground. Si además este conjunto de temas ofrece una admirable calidad artística al melómano, como es el caso de este álbum en particular, no solamente nos va a permitir conocer la evolución creativa del genial artista estadounidense Justin Wright, alma máter de EXPO 70, sino que también nos va a permitir ver en perspectiva este arco temporal que abarca desde el año 2008 al 2011. Nueve obras musicales publicadas en ediciones limitadas muy difíciles de encontrar que, como piezas de un puzzle sonoro, han sido organizadas en este recopilatorio con un sentido práctico y revelador, convirtiendo su audición en una auténtica delicia. El interesante álbum “Solar Drifting” fue presentado el pasado mes de mayo a través del prestigioso sello discográfico polaco ZOHARUM en formato digital y en una lujosa edición en CD limitada a 500 unidades en ecopak de tres paneles, habiendo sido engalanada con un impactante diseño creado por Justin Wright haciendo uso del espectacular trabajo de ilustración realizado por Ashley Lande donde la estética siniestra adquiere esa imagen simbólica que cautiva visualmente por el sutil ocultamiento de su mensaje. Misterio y ocultismo reflejados en su portada como tarjeta de presentación de este impresionante recopilatorio musical, ofreciéndonos un ecléctico despliegue sonoro donde la amalgama de estilos se convierte en la vía de creación principal de temas innovadores situados en la vanguardia dentro de esta escena underground. “Solar Drifting” impresionará a los melómanos lectores de Lux Atenea Webzine, no sólo por el embrujo visual de su portada, sino por la grandiosa experiencia sonora contenida en su interior que, vertebrada en nueve temas, hace que su audición sea una ruptura conceptual absoluta con la normalidad a través de la genialidad instrumental. Un magnetismo sonoro que dará comienzo con la ondulante danza musical ambient que abre el tema “Soft Wave Continuum”, y sus cromatismos cristalinos irradiando luz a nuestro alrededor hasta llevarnos a las puertas del tema “Transcending Energy From Light (Excerpt)”, donde los destellos de su devenir melódico empiezan a perfilarse claramente en construcciones virtuales sólidas magníficamente recreadas en esta genial composición. Con “Solar Drifting” nos sumergiremos en un entorno sonoro futurista cuya ecléctica base musical nos invitará a una atenta audición para poder apreciar cada uno de los matices que definen y dan personalidad a esta obra, llegando algunas veces hasta la frontera de lo experimental, apareciendo a continuación la solemnidad del tema “Crawling Through Crystal Skies” como sublime iridiscencia trascendente decorada con pasajes melódicos de irresistible belleza donde se aprecian reminiscencias de los años setenta. Pero será el entorno esotérico de los Arcanos el que surja poderosamente en la composición “Tarot Reading”, a través de estas texturas electrónicas de vanguardia donde la música experimental encuentra su campo de creación más innovador, retornando luego a escenarios musicales más complejos y obscuros en “A1V” para poder apreciar el magnífico tema “Sunglasses” en todo su esplendor, sumergiéndonos en entornos sonoros abiertos donde la sensibilidad y la consciencia se expanden sin control alguno. Posteriormente, la tenebrosa composición “Electric Waves” parará abruptamente ese impulso que hace florecer a la consciencia, contrayendo de nuevo los espacios hasta transformar el entorno en un ambiente hostil y angustioso donde las brumas del miedo y de la inseguridad desembocarán en la dispersión vital recreada en el extraordinario tema “Heterotopia”, clausurando este recopilatorio con otra nueva muestra de genialidad artística y de sumo talento en la estructuración sonora donde resalta el alma melódica de la guitarra eléctrica como protagonista. “Solar Drifting”, una contundente muestra del eclecticismo musical atesorado por Justin Wright en EXPO 70. ¡¡¡Disfrútenlo!!!

 

 

AFRICAN PAPER

Justin Wright alias Expo 70 veröffentlicht seit Jahren in Dauerrotation spacige Soundscapes irgendwo im Graubereich zwischen psychedelischem Rock und verspielter elektronischer Avantgarde, und einige seiner interessantesten Releases erblickten auf Zoharum das Licht der Welt, so beispielsweise das Robert Anton Wilson gewidmete Konzeptalbum namens „From Earth to Sirius“ und eine mit viel Bonusmaterial ausgestattete Neuauflage seiner LP „Corridors of Infinity“. Dieser Tage erscheint ebenfalls auf dem polnischen Label eine Sammlung an Outtakes und vergriffenen Stücken unter dem

Die hier vertretenen Songs sind allesamt in den Jahren um 2010 entstanden und größtenteils auf raren Singles erschienen, weshalb sie sich auch durchweg durch eine gewisse Kürze und einen kompakten, konzisen Aufbau auszeichnen. Im Unterschied zu seinen Alben, bei denen immer der Gesamtzusammenhang im Vordergrund steht und die einzelnen Tracks nur Abschnitte bilden, ist „Solar Drifting“ eher episodisch ausgerichtet und das Driften und Gleiten durch Raum und Zeit wirkt bisweilen ausschnitthaft. Ansonsten ist die Sammlung durchweg von Wrights Handschrift geprägt: Sich kreisend und doch zielgenau bewegende Drones, meist in dicke, verrauschte Hüllen gepackt, deren Dichte sich kontinuierlich steigert, hier und da trashige Computersounds, die die illusionäre Harmonie durchbrechen und kein Zweifel an der Entstehungepoche lassen, denn in den Seventies, die er so gerne channelt, hätte es die nicht gegeben. Trotzdem immer wieder der Repetition und dem warmen Klang geschuldete Einlulleffekte, die dafür sorgen, dass man kleinere Brüche schon mal überhört. Gelegentlich raue, bisweilen sogar recht ätzende Riffs und solide Gitarrensoli, die verraten, dass seine Herkunft eher im Rock als im Ambient oder in der experimentellen Musik liegt.

Das ändert freilich nichts daran, dass es von Expo 70 immer gelungene Ambientstücke gab, und das den Hörer emporhebende und auf einem Harmoniumteppich davontragende „Tarot Reading“ zählt auch hier zu den Höhepunkten. (A. Kaudaht)

 

FREQ

From the ominous drones and splutters of “A1V” by way of the decidedly Harmonia-like curlicues of “Crawling Through Crystal Skies” — all twinkly echo trails and meandering electronic rhythms — to the freefall wafts of guitar feedback and multiple effects units orbiting each other in a docking pattern, Solar Drifting does exactly what the album title suggests, conjuring imagery which hovers and glides from the shimmering heat-haze of desert testing grounds areas into visions of extraterrestrial flight powered solely by the sun’s rays.

 

Assembled from the bulk of Expo 70‘s 7″ singles and cassette-only non-album releases which appeared between 2008 and 2011, Justin Wright has done a good job on Solar Drifting of collating them into an album which ultimately works well as a whole. Every track from the original editions has been retained, though Wright has compiled them into a new running order here, held together coherently by the sun-related titles and a shared feeling for the peripatetic sound of satellites dreaming their own quiet robotic way from lightside to darkside and round again, or of spacecraft set solidly on sundry Apollonian missions.

 

Compared to some other Expo 70 albums, Solar Drifting keeps matters to relatively concise track lengths, but there’s more than enough to keep the brain engaged on these excursions. “Transcending Energy From Light” appears in excerpted form, clocking in at just over five minutes of pent-up Ash Raisms, but it delivers plenty of motion through its slow-burning cosmic energy, diffusing the theta-wave transmissions in a fashion which also easily transcends the new age tendencies of all too much of this genre of music. It’s on the opening “Soft Wave Continuum” that the starship Expo 70 sets the controls for the centre of the solar system, heading for a mercurial stream of electronic consciousness-raising as it goes, deepening the drones and springing jets of reverberant materials to steer the progress of their interstellar rambler.

 

The title track is where looped guitar figures set up a solid basis for the coming journey between the planets, and it’s almost impossible to avoid yet more metaphors of space travel when the guitar starts to ignite the propulsion systems in preparation for a take-off. This turns out far smoother than might have been expected, achieving a throbbing, keening cruise control on the held drones of “Tarot Reading” before rendezvousing with the full-burn thrum at the point where “Sunglasses” become essential for protection from the cosmic rays — and perhaps also required for maintaining an aura of psychedelic space rock cool at the controls. This level of burning intensity ramps up on the concluding “Heterotopia”, where the cascading chorused guitar scrawls achieve their own particular kind of stellar nirvana.

 

 

ChainDLK

This new release from Expo 70 collects four out of print release and documents this project with shorter tracks than the ones included in the releases already reviewed by myself. Instead of the chronologic order, the playlist tries to oppose the two sides of the musical composition: the drone, mostly by guitar, and the noise, mostly by synth, so escaping the vague sense of stasis that could be the cons of this musical style.

 

"Soft Wave Continuum" is based on two distinct drones based on two tones while "Trancending Energy From Light (Excerpt)" is an exploration of guitar's resonances. "Solar Drifting" starts with oscillators acting as foreground to the underlying guitar lines. The delay applied to the guitar in "Crawling Through Crystal Skies" creates the more psychedelic track of this release while the feedback of "Tarot Reading" create the more metal oriented one. "A1V" features metallic percussion while "Sunglasses" explore the form already used in "Solar Drifting". "Electric Waves" explore the guitar effects to create a kaleidoscopic musical spectrum and "Heterotopia" is focused on a guitar line slowly emerging from a guitar drone.

 

All that emerges it the search for evading the sense of stasis, typical of drone, to reach a sense of imperceptible movement. With his varied musical structure this release is perhaps a perfect introduction for the primer and it's a recommended release for fans of the project.

 

 

VER SACRUM

Prosegue da parte della Zoharum la proposta della produzione degli Expo 70 del chitarrista Justin Wright, gruppo dedito a una musica figlia dei Corrieri Cosmici tedeschi, dello space-rock, dell’ambient e della musica drone. La discografia degli Expo ’70 è vasta e comprende, limitandoci solo a quelli pubblicati dalla label polacca, album molto validi come From Earth To Sirius, Corridors To Infinity (2014), sorta di omaggio agli Ash Ra Tempel, e Frozen Living Elements (2014) su cui mi ero soffermato su Ver Sacrum. Ora è la volta di Solar Drifting, una raccolta che raccoglie materiale inedito e raro del periodo 2008-2011 uscito in precedenza solo su singolo o cassetta. Lo stile è il medesimo che abbiamo imparato a conoscere, ovvero ambientazioni e atmosfere spaziali e cosmiche, ipnotiche e rarefatte dove la lezione del vecchio Krautrock viene fusa alla drone music di esperienze come i Sunn O))). La differenza rispetto al passato è che questa volta le composizioni sono decisamente più concise e sintetiche. Non troviamo quindi lunghe suite di 20-30 minuti ma tracce più condensate e meno dispersive. La qualità in ogni caso non ne risente e la musica non perde nessuna delle caratteristiche degli Expo ’70. Attraverso le note siderali di questo dischetto avremo modo, come già in passato, di compiere un viaggio nello spazio esterno alla ricerca di altre dimensione del Cosmo e dell’Essere. Rispetto a prima possiamo sperimentare però una maggiore gamma e varietà di esperienze sonore e sensoriali come d’altronde ci viene anticipato dal titolo Solar Drifting. E’ così il sole il soggetto esplorato in questo disco metafisico e variegato dove potremo cullarci in una nuova realtà extra-sensoriale e astratta. Un gruppo che consiglio caldamente agli amanti dell’elettronica quieta e minimale e della drone-music.

 

 

NECROWEB

Expo Seventy, oder Expo 70, bietet uns nun unter Zoharum die vierte Publikation an, welche eine Retrospektive beinhaltet, was speziell die Sammler ansprechen dürfte, anderseits aber ebenfalls ein guter Einstand für Neulinge ist, die in das Schaffen von Expo Seventy einsteigen und somit einen guten Blick auf die Musik erfahren wollen. “Solar Drifting” enthält rare Aufnahmen der Zeiträume 2008-2011 und längst ausverkaufte Vinyl EPs, deren Inhalt wohl anderweitig gar nicht mehr zu ergattern ist. Wer mit dem Schaffen vertraut ist, den wird es keinesfalls verwundern, dass die musikalische Basis aus einer Fülle von kosmischem Ambient und diverser Psychedelica besteht, was einerseits für träumerische Aspekte zu sorgen vermag, und anderseits einen gewissen Grad an musikalischer Verspieltheit aufwirft. Besonders die erste Hälfte vermag mich anzusprechen, wobei vor allem ein fantastisches “Trancending Energy From Light” für unausweichliches Kopfkino sorgt.

“Solar Drifting” ist natürlich Pflicht für jene Rezipientenschaft, die mit dem Werkeln von Expo Seventy vertraut und mit dessen Ausschweifungen in entfernte Galaxien zufrieden sind. Zwei EPs, eine Split und ein Tape sind die verewigten Dokumente auf vorliegendem Silberling, wobei der Manufaktur Zoharum der Dank gebührt, jenes seltene Material nun doch erschwingen zu können. Die Auflage ist in gewohnter Limitierung erhältlich, wobei die hier gebotenen Electronica auch mittels feinfühliger Gitarren noch eigene Würzung erhalten und für Expo Seventy Verhältnisse zudem überaus kurz ausgefallen sind. Ein Manko ist dies keinesfalls, denn dadurch wird der Einstieg meiner Meinung sogar erleichtert, weshalb vorliegende Publikation auch die variabelste darstellt.

 

 

DARKROOM

Continua la fortunata collaborazione tra la polacca Zoharum ed il progetto revival kosmische/space ambient di Justin Wright, questa volta impegnati nella realizzazione di una raccolta di singoli estratti da diverse uscite passate che sono attualmente andate esaurite. Wright, fervido sostenitore del formato fisico in tutte le sue sfaccettature e prolifico artista inarrestabile, trova così modo di comporre un puzzle sonico accattivante e completo di ogni sfumatura della sua creatura Expo '70, rivolto sia a chi si era perso queste limitatissime uscite in passato, sia a chi si affaccia per la prima volta al poliedrico mondo delle peregrinazioni soniche dell'artista americano. "Solar Drifting", uscito sia in cassetta dorata in 100 esemplari, sia in CD contenuto in una confezione ecopak a tre pannelli limitata a 500 copie nel giugno di quest'anno, pesca da quattro precise uscite passate distribuite tra il 2008 ed il 2012, ed ognuno dei nove tasselli che compongono questo spaccato esaustivo della proposta di Wright contiene ogni particolare sfaccettatura che contraddistingue i suoi differenti 'periodi' produttivi. Ci si imbatte sin da subito in tese atmosfere siderali e baluginii sonici futuristici con la lunga intro "Soft Wave Continuum", estratta dall'omonima cassetta del 2012 da cui vengono anche estrapolate le fumose e penetranti psichedelie impreziosite dallo scuotersi di campanelli di "A1V" e le tensioni space ambient di "Electric Waves". Più ipnoticamente avvolgenti e contenenti l'elemento chiave della musica di Wright, la sua chitarra elettrica, sono invece l'estratto di "Trascending Energy From Light" e "Sunglasses", pezzi contenuti nel 7" del 2009 "Sunglasses" e riportanti un approccio più viscerale, fatto di brulicare dronico ribollente e granitico sul quale si stagliano picchi inverosimili di synth portati all'estremo, altro buon esempio dell'approccio sonoro di Wright soprattutto degli esordi. I due estratti dal 7" del 2010 "Tarot Reading" mettono in luce il lato più armonico e sentito del progetto, attraverso le lisergiche ipnosi di "Tarot Reading" o della title-track, incursione tesa di spasmi siderali portati allo stremo. Atmosfere kosmische sono invece il lascito di "Crawling Through Crystal Skies", dove la chitarra troneggia nel suo acuto vorticare sulle tensioni ambient di sottofondo, sino ad assumere la forma di nenie orientaleggianti e ridondanti, e la conclusiva "Heterotopia", che dal drone viscerale lascia sbocciare lisergici assoli come lame nel buio, entrambi pezzi estratti dallo split uscito in 7" ed in miniCDr del 2008 assieme ad I Am Seamonster. Sorta di varco spazio-temporale che riporta nella contemporaneità nove piccole gocce estrapolate dall'oceano produttivo di Expo '70, la missione della raccolta riesce bene nel suo intento, mostrando ogni lato espressivo del poliedrico act solista e dimostrandosi un buon punto di partenza per affacciarsi sulla sterminata produzione di un progetto che sa sempre come reinventarsi e stupire, anche rifacendosi a sonorità di gran lunga passate di moda.

Created by AlterNation Music Magazine / 2007

 

 

HEATHEN HARVEST

For much of its existence, Expo 70 has been the solo vehicle of Kansas City’s Justin Wright. Situated somewhere in the vicinity of long-form drone, kosmische, and space rock, Wright’s music is sometimes in the tradition of the Berlin School, occasionally moving towards Düsseldorf, and recently—with the addition of a rhythm section to form a trio—what Wright himself describes as ‘like Black Sabbath playing Pink Floyd with the rawness of early Hawkwind‘.

 

There’s not so much Sabbath or Floyd evident on Solar Drifting, which collects together remastered versions of tracks from a raft of seven inches and short cassette releases, but Wright makes a fair bid as a technician of spaceship Hawkwind. The opener (the ten-minute ‘Soft Wave Continuum’) is a slow drive in Tim Blake‘s Crystal Machine, warm pads rising and falling like the tide as the synths swoop and burble. It’s all very pleasant, if a little aimless.

 

‘Transcending Energy from Light’ (a five-minute excerpt from the track which appeared in full on 2009’s Night Flights) begins in a similar vein before a spiky Michael Brook-esque guitar figure appears to carry the piece to its conclusion by way of Ash Ra Temple. It is worth pointing out that rather than simply presenting these tracks in the order of their original release, Wright has sequenced them very effectively into an album that sounds like it was planned as one from the outset.

 

Solar Drifting continues apace with more Cobalt Blue guitar figures and the kind of electronic whoops and wails that DikMik used to specialise in. There’s more going on here than in previous work: the multi-tracked guitars churn away quite ominously, with distorted solo lines staggering about in every direction over the top, and the effect is quite claustrophobic and unsettling.

 

‘Crawling Through Crystal Skies’ threatens to turn into Hawkwind’s ‘You Shouldn’t Do That’ (there’s even a guitar line that mimics Nik Turner‘s sax squalls) and, as with Solar Drifting, Wright creates something that sounds an awful like the soundtrack to a nightmare. There’s nothing ostensibly horrifying here, just a hallucinatory unpleasantness that hangs about on the very edge of awareness.

 

On the cassette version of Solar Drifting, Side A ends here, and the guitar-based tracks with it. With the exception of the final track, Side B is all synth, and it’s a very different beast. If the electronics on side one were all space opera, they are all psychological trauma on the other: J. G. Ballard in place of E. E. “Doc” Smith. ‘Tarot Reading’ inhabits the same unpleasant landscape as Jarl‘s Case 1959: Dyatlov, and it is this tone of menacing dark ambience that dominates the rest of Solar Drifting, Coincidentally, it is especially on these short pieces—none of which have a duration over five or six minutes—where Wright really comes into his own. Perhaps it’s the limits of the formats on which these tracks were originally released, but the guitar-based tracks never seem to have enough room to develop into anything that is completely satisfying. Expo 70’s full-length releases (of which there are a great many) can be sprawling and expansive, and the opportunity to stretch out and unfold a piece over time suits Wright far better than the confines of a seven-inch single. That the menacing synth-based tracks on the second half of this album work better is at least partly due to the fact that the exemplary programming makes them sound like parts of a single long piece.

 

On their website, Zoharum describe this album as ‘a great starting point for people afraid to jump into the vast discography of Expo ’70’. That accolade should probably go to 2010’s Where Does Your Mind Go?, which gives a better impression of the typical breadth and space of Wright’s music. The meat of Solar Drifting is a somewhat more claustrophobic affair.

 

Rating: 7/10 Written by: Matt Leivers

 

 

MUSIQUE MACHINE

Expo 70 is the progressive drone/space/krautrock project of guitarist Justin Wright. Originally starting out as a solo project Expo 70 have morphed into a collective with the addition of a rhythm section, however Wright remains the group’s focal point. This collection brings together material recorded and previously released as singles between 2008 and 2011. The band’s label Zoharum describe it as a good entry point to a vast back catalogue that seems to have been continually growing over the last 14 years since the project’s inception in 2003.

Opening track Soft Wave Continuum is over nine minutes of epic space drone. Building slowly and patiently from a single synth drone it layers more and more drones with space-age bleeps and bloops. The result is a long rambling slice of electronic weirdness that takes us through Hawkwind territory, both ambient and beautiful it is a great opener.

 

Transcending Energy from Light (Excerpt) is up next, again the drones take centre stage, but this is a darker trip than the previous one. Midway through its relatively short 5 minutes (this is an edit of a longer piece recorded for the Night Flights album), the addition of some krautrock-esque guitar takes the track down a different direction, winding its way through a hypnotic, almost transcendental path. I guess the song title tells us what we need to know here.

 

Solar Drifting opens with some delicious Hawkwind-esque electronic squeals, before a cyclical guitar riff is introduced around the minute mark. This is more of the great space rock we’ve already experienced, however there appears to be a lot more going on. The guitar riff reminds me of that used by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick on the track Earth Mother and there is a definite feel of that musical era throughout. Crawling Through Crystal Skies builds very slowly, the click, pop and hiss of worn vinyl plays out over the guitar drones, giving it again the feel of being much older than it is.  Once again there is a Hawkwind vibe to it, which is certainly not a bad thing when you’re making space rock music. The key difference here is that Expo 70 never adopt the full on heavy riffy approach of the Hawks, always being a little more restrained in their approach. The music remains ambient and understated, which works beautifully.

 

Tarot Reading is up next and seats itself firmly in the drone side of things. Gone are the space rock riffs of the previous tracks, we are heading in a much darker direction here as heavy drones hint at a much darker, more oppressive, soundscape. A1V follows suit, this time the sound of bells tinkling throughout gives a slightly different vibe, although still dark and oppressive. These drone based tracks are what really sets Expo 70 apart from the crowd. Sunglasses would make an excellent theme to a sci-fi horror movie, it’s all sinister sounding drones and dripping atmospherics. Electric Waves inhabits similar territory, although not quite as menacing as Sunglasses. Final track Heterotopia takes us back into the ominous electronic darkness of Sunglasses, but with added guitar soloing.

 

Overall the album is a stimulating snapshot of the period, 2008-2011. It is fascinating to see that it almost divides itself into two separate albums, one jammy, space rock album and one bleak electronic drone album. Whilst both aspects of the band are adequately represented here, it is the darker drone material that takes precedence.  Its pitch-black atmosphere works beautifully to create a bleak, oppressive aether. One could easily see these tracks used most effectively on the soundtrack to some avant garde dystopian nightmare. If we go back to Zoharum’s claims that it operates as a good entry point at which to get to grips with Expo 70, I’m not too sure I agree with this. On one hand, it does work to introduce the band and their sound, however it only really hints at the various dimensions that can be heard in the longer tracks that one can hear on their full length releases. I was already a fan of Expo 70 so perhaps this has tainted my thoughts on this matter, either way this is a fine way to spend an hour of your time, and if it leads you deeper down the rabbit hole then there is much to be enjoyed.

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