Expo'70, formed in Los Angeles by guitarist Justin Wright and Paul Kneeje but basically
the solo project of Wright after he moved back to Kansas City (Missouri),
debuted with a series of self-produced CD-ROMs, each full of
experiments that bridge the keyboard-based cosmic music of the 1970s
and the guitar-based droning music of the 2000s:
Live July 18 2004 (2004),
Surfaces (Kill Shaman, 2005), that featured McKinely Jones' electronic/digital soundsculpting,
Exquisite Lust (2006), which was the first collection almost entirely assembled by Wright alone.
The louder and bleaker Center Of The Earth (2006) was structured
as a four-movement symphony.
A thick ominous drone towers over brooding guitar noises in
At the beginning a more mournful tone permeates the drone of
II (10:55), but then it seems to suddenly soar in anger acquiring
an almost anthemic quality.
III (20:36) starts quiet and steady but slowly reveals a whole ecosystem
of sounds hidden behind the hard crust of the dominant drone, and even
a hissing wind, which fuels the drone to inflate its overtones.
The brief finale, IV (5:00), is the equivalent of a triumphal lento in
The same structure of four lengthy improvisations returned on
Mystical Amplification (Kill Shaman, 2007).
However, the dense and claustophobic drones of Center of the Earth
were replaced by a lighter and pictorial tone.
The protagonists of
Climbing Mountainous Caverns Of Black Arts (12:41) are not the
underlying drones, that merely mark the territory, but the pulsating and
strident sounds that surface randomly. Eventually they coalesce into a
dissonant Jimi Hendrix-ian jam.
Elements of raga enter the agonizing
Ravens Of Invocation Cascading Into Dowsing (11:46), but they are
mauled and swept away by intergalactic winds.
Psychedelic reverbs fuel the oneiric trip of
Luminous Phenomena Reacting To The Precognition Of Psychokinesis (18:34),
one of their most dynamic soundscapes yet.
The drones, the distortions and the glissandoes compose a lively (and at times
dialogue of sorts in Pendulum Of Raudive Voices (10:40),
This work abandoned the pure, ascetic music of Cener of the Earth
for a more humane exploration of the psyche.
Animism (Kill Shamen, 2007), the first "official" release, formalized
Wright's ambient cosmic droning glitchy acid-rock.
The journey begins with the aquatic guitar tones of Outside In, a piece
that sounds like an ambient remix of
Jimi Hendrix's 1983, and delves into
dark, ominous depths with Mahogany Lake, an archetypical example of
the mesmerizing multi-tiered sounds that Wright can secrete from his
instruments. Each layer has a different quality, sometimes tonal and sometimes
atonal, from sort of tolling bells to sort of moaning voices, from sort of
meowing cat to the overdose-warped dissonance.
Eagle Talons overlaps languid, glissando-drenched guitar licks on top of
a steady flow of reverbed incandescent riffs.
The slow, cavernous, dilated vibrations of Universal Horizon
plumb inscrutable abysses.
The cyclical didjeridoo-like buzzing drone of Entering The Night On A Highway Of Astral Projection provides the backdrop for a petuland guitar
improvisation reminiscent of the excesses of acid-rock. When both die out (after
ten minutes), only a distant tremor is left, but enough to trigger a crescendo
of cosmic wails and rumbles. (Each of the two parts is intriguing but it's not
clear why they are joined into one 20-minute piece).
An acoustic guitar finally intones a rhythm of sorts to propel the
metaphysical "om" intoned by the other instruments (viola? keyboards?)
in Missing Sun.
The 15-minute Shape-Shifting Mountain Mover
weaves together robust and disturbing drones into a stream of consciousness
that ends surprisingly mute.
Wright's clockwork mechanisms are set in motion by simple acts and never
straddle too far away from the premises. The magic does not arise from melodrama
or suspense but simply by what the avantgarde calls "deep listening".
Audio Archive 001 - Music From Inaudible Depths (Kill Shaman, 2007)
and Audio Archive 002 (Kill Shaman, 2007)
collect unreleased material.
Capitalizing on the method of Animism,
Black Ohms (Beta-Lactam Ring, 2008) de-facto coined a new genre of
austere guitar-based soundsculpting.
Lysergic Sunrise restarts from the thick cryptic buzzing of Animism's last piece, Shape-Shifting Mountain Mover.
The 12-minute process by which Mind Echo Unit turns a mostly silent
puddle of noise into a lively dialogue between mystical guitar tones is
proof of Wright's cinematic skills.
A romantic melody emerges from the lake of subliminal reverbs of Solitude.
Cosmic Seance is virtually static for twelve minutesa. Then it starts
decomposing and recomposing, until the guitar's loud vibration acquires a
The 19-minute closer, Midnight Stalking/Dawn Of The Black Ohms, is both
the longest and the most subdued. At the beginning it sounds like a protracted
electrical short, then it mutates into a ghostly cosmic breeze, then it
fades into a shapeless murky shadow, and finally it turns into an eerie
concerto of electroacoustic signals.
The cassette White Ohms (Peasant Magik, 2009)
contains outtakes from the Black Ohms sessions..
The double-disc Sonic Messenger (Beta Lactum Ring, 2009) continued
to straddle the border between terror and ecstasy.
Amplifying Umbras (12:43) stages a bouncing vibration surrounded by
a swarm of brief drones for a magniloquent Welcome to the Machine-kind
of opening, and then delves into shamanic percussion and didjeridu-style
Journey To The Sun (9:42) is a simple repetition of stealthy steps
until the guitar takes off (a poor man's version of the dynamics of
Pink Floyd's A Saucerful of Secrets).
Despite the title of the album, there is no unifying theme. It sounds like
a set of experiments in different directions, and some of the
pieces sound like pure filler.
This album even contains their first (ad)venture into dance music,
There are only two gems.
Through an accumulation of tiny acid-raga events, Hamadryad (11:08)
enters a spiritual universe and paints the fresco of a psychedelic paradise.
Temple Of The Shadow (21:24) begins with wailing and screaming that
create a tragic atmosphere, and then drowns them in a carpet-bombing kind of
noise. As this one picks up speed and volume, it becomes a whirling drilling
noise of apocalyptic proportions.
Psychosis (Peasant Magik, 2009) contains two three-part suites.
Sleeping Corpse's three movements are wildly different and hardly
constitute a unity. Into Body is a sophisticated interplay of
ear-splitting drones and hypnotic repetitive patterns.
Cold Forecasting is a hellish nightmare propelled by an
agonizing metal riff.
Breaking The Dirt is dominated by a steady dense manic drone a` la
Center Of The Earth.
Widow Planet is a better integrated piece. It flows through its three
parts like a pulsating organism, all of which exhibit a strong psychological quality.
Left To Die's heartbeat is controlled by
a suspenseful keyboard drone and a quasi-blues bass rhythm.
A cascade of doom-metal riffs and Morricone-esque twangs floods
Stark Bleakness Rising. When this fades away, an army of small rodents
roams the barren landscape of Haunting The Terrain.
Unfortunately, Wright became ridiculously prolific, flooding the market
with "rarities" that were probably assembled in a few hours and were simply
simple ideas overstretched to justify the price of an album.
The double-minidisc Psychic Funeral (Ruralfaune) delivered two lengthy
The cassette Awakening (2009 - Sonic Meditations, 2011) delivered
Prisms Ad Rift Luminous Sunbeams and Descending Celestial Moon Odyssey.
Galaxy Of Mysticism (Reverb Worship, 2010) contains
Altar Of Mystic Rites,
Entrance To The Outer Circle, and
Central Sphere Of The Mystical Galaxy.
Where Does Your Mind Go? (Immune, 2010) has four (leaning towards
and four more are on
Journey Through Astral Projection (2012), one of their most percussive works.
Inaudible Bicoastal Trajectory (2011) contains
Hypnotic Brain Cloud Float and
Mystical Bamboo Garden Cultivation.
Hovering Resonance (2012) has Hovering Resonance and Moon Raga.
Night Mist (2011) contains the colossal
The Gate Keeper: Inception / Birthing / Enlightenment
Womb of Consciousness.
Plus the cassettes Resurrection (2010), Death Voyage (2010),
Radiance (2011), etc.
By now Wright was often joined by part-time collaborator Matt Hill.
Blackout (Debacle, 2011) documents live performances, and could be
the least comic of the time.
Matt Hill mainly focused on
the nostalgic horror disco music of his project Umberto, documented on
From The Grave (Sonic Meditations, 2009) and
Prophecy Of The Black Widow (Not Not Fun, 2010), followed by the
Final Exit (Black Moss) and
Welcome To The Chillzone (The Great Pop Supplement, 2012), as well
as the EP Freeze (Not Not Fun, 2012), containing
Put An APB On Those Bastards and Common Street Trash.
Justin Wright was the only member of Expo 70 on
Beguiled Entropy (Blackest Rainbow, 2012),
playing guitar, drum-machine and synthesizers.
The brooding ten-minute Luminous Traveler might be interesting for a
few minutes but most of the album is just unfocused, uninspired fluff.
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