Posted by Bill Meyer on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM
When Expo 70 last played in Chicago in the fall of 2010, multi-instrumentalist and sole constant member Justin Wright sat cross-legged in the audience. Together they faced his amp while he unspooled long, spacey guitar lines and satisfyingly bulbous synth blasts over the percolating syncopations of an antique drum machine.
The music had the levitational qualities of a magic carpet ride, and Wright probably wished he had a real magic carpethe was in the midst of a 40-date U.S. tour, during which he drove himself across the country twice. It must have put him off road work for a while; though Expo 70 released a steady stream of tapes and records in 2011, Wright only left his Kansas City home for a handful of gigs in Saint Louis and at SXSW.
Wright is finally coming back to Chicago this Friday for a one-off appearance at the Burlington with local duo Cleared. They'll share a record-release show celebrating their respective albums for local label Immune Recordings. Journey Through Astral Projection is a high point in Expo 70's massive discography, but there's no guarantee that Wright will play any of its propulsive, open-ended jams. He's breaking in an expanded lineup with drummer Mike Vera (of Sounding the Deep) and bassist Aaron Osborne (Monta at Odds). After the concert they'll return to Missouri to begin work on their side of a four-way split double LP that Immune plans to release on Record Store Day and a CD for Brazil's Essence Music.
Show Review: The Automatic in Chicago 10.03.09
last night's show featured psychedelic band, expo '70- a duo who's name i had heard in passing a couple of times. it is fair to say that the guy's sounds, coupled with the current lack of live music in my life, produced an experience that was really worth writing home about.
their setup was centered around a shrine of amps and speakers stacked one on top of the other. in addition to the audience, they themselves played seated and facing the boxes. this actually made the set far more personal. i felt like i was on a futuristic journey, which was greatly aided by automatic's lighting and fog (which was not in any way an overdone-neon-american apparel-rave type atmosphere).
anyway, the music was stark but creative. i was completely digging the entire ~30 minute piece and their encore. it was a great way to wrap up an evening that featured two other bands that had an entirely different feel (julian lynch's iffy dark metal drone and prince rama of ayodyha's trance-dance pop set reminiscent of a pocahaunted/crystal castles hybrid).
WAYLON HATCHET dot COMt
Show Review: Matt Valentine & Erika Elder, Expo '70, Bronze, Matt Baldwin, Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA 9/28/09
I was really excited for Expo '70. I totally dig their massive, psychedelic, and drone rock music. They performed tonight as a duo. Justin Wright on guitar and electronics along with bassist Matt Hill who also played electronics. They had a smoke machine and a twirling color light to add to the ambience of their music. They performed one wicked drone monster that sent me to the outer limits. It was far out cosmic stuff. My only complaint was...I wanted MORE! I could of drifted with these cats for like five hours, no shit, this music is killer. Luckily more music was just ahead of me.
SENTIREASCOLTARE Magazine (Italy)
Feature interview (Italian)
Download PDF of issue 52 with feature on Krautrock and it's modern influences featuring an exclusive interview with Expo '70..
NOISE rock culture magazine reviews IAO Festival Performance 2008 (in French)
Certainement le meilleur truc de la soirée, un type tout seul qui joue de la SG dos au public devant une batterie de pédales d’effets dont la très utile pédale sampler qui lui permet de faire des solos fuzzy 70’s après des mises en boucles de nappes, de drones et de rythmes cacochymes. Le son manquait singulièrement de puissance pour une élévation cosmique mais c’était pas mal trippant dans le genre drone sonique entre Fear Falls Burning et KTL mais avec une vibe typiquement 70’s. Tout un système vidéo associant technologie moderne et vieux projecteurs super 8 diffusent entre trois et quatre vidéos en même temps, se partageant l’espace de l’immense écran ou se mélangeant pour former des images troubles. Principalement du noir et blanc pour les images de coups de pinceaux, activité cellulaire et bactérienne, abstractions diverses et goût prononcé pour les rainures et les plissures (peau craquelée de l’éléphant, les veines du bois) mais aussi couleur pour des explosions sanglantes à base d’yeux arrachés et de globules rouges en liberté, comme sur une pochette de Carcass.
Full article & review of performers:
Flavorpill write up for Hemlock Tavern Show (SF, CA 2008)
One could be forgiven for thinking that Expo '70 was a long-forgotten Krautrock project from a group called "Expo." (The minimalist name and cover art certainly fit, and the slow-burn drones evoke Ash Ra Tempel and Brian Eno at his darkest.) As it turns out, the group is the brainchild of Justin Wright, a native of Kansas City who has an excellent sense of both guitar sustain and graphic design. Recently, Wright's music has taken a turn for Sunn O)))-style doom. Both local openers share Wright's fascination with analog drones, but Wooden Shjips dial up fried psychedelia, whereas Arp's music for synthesizers is all about smooth lines.
SF Weekly Write up for Hemlock Tavern Show (SF, CA 2008)
Expo '70's Exploratorium of the Mind
The word "psychedelic" gets tossed about all too often these days, usually by indie sophisticates who want to elevate sloppy, unfocused, or just plain unfinished songwriting to some theoretically higher, more esoteric and cerebral plane. What differentiates these so-called "psych" musicians from Missouri's Justin Wright aka Expo '70 is that Wright's extended guitar drones are as focused as lasers slowly drilling away into the black chasm of space. Songs develop with great compositional patience, growing almost imperceptably from an initial buzz into epic nebulae full of dark magnetic noise and occasionally shaken by deep gravitational rumbles. They may be improvised, but more in the tradition of structured German kosmische electronica or sci-fi space rock than the wobbly jams of weaker, more cliched "psych" music so let's just throw the genre terms away in this case and let the music stand on its own. Or float, as the case may be.
Show Review The Glob in Denver, CO. 2008
Expo 70, Temples, Three Tall Dudes with Small Trucks
Friday, August 15, 2008
Glob Glob Glob
Better Than: Noise shows where it's all bent circuit manipulation and feedback.
By Tom Murphy
Apparently there's a thriving, though nascent, underground scene in Kansas City, and Expo 70, who was up next, has been a big part of what's going on there with at least nine releases (I bought all of them) under its belt. Elements of the act's latest album, Black Ohms, made it into a set that otherwise seemed like inspired improv. Low, droning tones introduced what was to come: The band had set up a tricolor filter, rotating light that gave the feeling of being at a campfire in William Hope Hodgeson's The Nightland. The flow of drone quickly became infested with the sonic equivalent of bioluminescent creatures too far below the surface to be distinct. The bass drone drew out to infinity frequencies from the upper stratosphere and channeled through middle-range delays. During the first third of the composition or so, the music sounded like the tapping into the communication channels of crystalline life forms translated for human ears. Fog jettisoned from between the amps and drifted off to mark a shift in tone, as the song evolved into a driving pace with fluid bass lines lurking beneath the cycling resonance of echoing guitar loops and heady, sustained leads swimming through the electronic fog that served as a cognate of the actual mists still lingering.
The sounds then rapidly transformed and a rough-textured low end streaming nearly made the band sound like a classic rock unit, only it was so drawn out and stretched beyond normal rock boundaries it took a little imagination to figure out what the members had done. It's not often a band, without trying, forces you to use your imagination. The final movement had a stoner-rock-esque bass riff surrounded by delayed, encircling guitar drift that recalled Sleep with lessened sense of impending doom.