One look at the Expo ’70 bandcamp page will tell you just how prolific Justin Wright is. Beginning in 2003. as Expo ’70, he has developed an international reputation amongst lovers of experimental/ drone/ space music as always producing something that is at the very least interesting and usually much more than that.
Now living in Kansas City, Missouri, Wright continues to put out music at an amazing rate with this latest release already sold out in several formats (see below for full release details) at the time of writing. According to the release details the ‘America Here and Now Sessions’ was:
“…recorded during the three-week art experience started in Kansas City featuring paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, films and music from local and national artists called “America: Now And Here – A cross-country traveling dialogue about America through the arts”. Local musician Ashley Miller spearheaded a recording project that featured a handful of local acts to record some music that would be later edited together and released as an album. The project lost funding, but Expo Seventy was able to record as part of the art experiment.”
So while it is disappointing that the project was not fulfilled as originals envisaged, what we have here is an album of two long ‘movements’ (a third, shorter, movement is available on CD and download) which certainly fulfil the criteria of somehow depicting journeys across America.
Recorded as a four piece, the full line up being: Justin Wright: Guitar, Synths / Aaron Osborne: Bass, Percussions / David Williams: Percussion / Mike Vera: Percussion; these tracks, in very different ways, take the listener on a sonic journey of the imagination. As is always the case with these improvised flights of the imagination the perspective of these tracks will very much be in the eye of the beholder, and for me the ‘First Movement’ reminds me of a long stretched out version of Föllakzoid’s amazing track ‘Pulsar’ from the band’s second album. This, for me, is a very good thing since it provides a further and much more extended exploration of themes and sounds that I hold very dear. I really like its constancy, there is a sense of passing through the same sort of landscape endlessly while the mind adds variety and nuance to the experience. In this sense the track really does build, not necessarily sonically, but the kosmische uniformity of the track enables the listener to add layer upon layer of meaning to it.
The ‘Second Movement’ initially seems to be quite similar in this respect. A much more stripped-back sound, at least initially, with a central drone being orbited by sonic moons of drums rolls, synths and beats. There is deviation here but that fundamental sound remains for around half the track, some thirteen minutes. Up to this point it serves as a great basis for zoning out to…yet, almost imperceptibly, you begin to realise that the sound has been slowly ramped up…the drone has become louder and deeper and the percussion, in particular, has become heavier to the point of bombast. From there the track just continues to build until around the twenty minute mark when all the abstract pent-up feeling gets released into a more melodious final section which takes the track home in a harmonious way. It feels to me like a difficult journey which somehow resolves tensions towards the end.
Overall this is a really satisfying album featuring to long tracks which really draw you in. I can see how these were inspired by journeys across a large continent, but they really work for me as opportunities to listen and think. Like the best long journeys they encompass an appreciation of time to think and wonder at new things, while also drawing on the familiar; bringing together new and existing perspectives.
The ‘America Here and Now Sessions’ were released on December 9, 2016 and were/ are available in the following formats (check the Expo ’70 bandcamp page for availability):
Limited to 160 copies on BLACK vinyl (housed on RED packaging) and 140 copies on GOLD vinyl (housed on BROWN packaging). Stunning and sturdy hand-screenprinted die-cut packaging, including a fold-out poster/innersleeve and insert. 180g high-quality wax displaying visuals by Erik A. Hamline, aka Steady Co.
Sturdy tip-on mini-LP gatefold packaging displaying utterly different artwork from the vinyl edition. Design courtesy of Justin Wright himself. Includes an OBI strip and a bonus track. Limited to 200 copies.
– SPECIAL EDITION:
Strictly limited art edition of 119 hand-numbered copies, which comes with: The vinyl edition on an exclusive color variant – WHITE wax (housed on BLUE pack); A large hand-drawn/silkscreened fold-out poster; The CD edition; An exclusive bonus album called “Beyond From Where We Started From”, with recent trio-mode Expo Seventy free jams of the highest order. Everything housed on a beautiful hand-stitched/silkscreened cloth bag.