Tenth anniversary edition of July 18, 2004 by Expo ‘70. Heavily influenced by Kosmiche and the surrounding ambient music, it’s a journey into the potential of guitars and FX. Think the beatless excursions of Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel. Out on Cassette and vinyl LP from Sonic Meditations.
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Bless Justin Wright for reminding us that the world is impure and imperfect and that there’s no such thing as bliss, because we’re always fidgeting; we always have to get up in the morning. His work under Expo 70 may present itself as supremely ambient, but the soundscapes he crafts are admonished with komische sound effects that act more as moment killers than flourishes. Few drone artists are better at creating realistic worlds through their music -- of placing us firmly back in the world we know and are bothered by. On ‘July 18, 2004’, Wright manages to do so not through using relevant, day-to-day, field recordings, but by using cosmic and experimental effects in brief, intuitive bursts, or imposing quietly permanent feedback onto proceedings.
‘July 18, 2004’ is not an unsettling work, but it is designed to be hard to vibe with. Its soundscapes whirr curiously in the background, granted the spectral omniscience that you might hear in your average Natural Snow Buildings composition, but each proceeding sound is another singular, separable passage: the piano notes that begin to play towards the end of “I” are over before they’ve even begun, and the vocal chanting that follows them have a similar brevity, only appearing so you can find them hard to grasp at. A lot of artists have made ambient-disciplined works more abstract and impossibly fragmented -- what up, Morton Subotnick -- but Wright has a knack for creating sustained works that allow for all of the universe’s messy, minuscule contradictions.
There’s both a familiarity and distance with Wright’s work as Expo 70 -- it envelops as much as it pushes away, and its inflections can range from welcoming to disturbing. Sometimes it’s both at the same time: the pastoral guitar played at the beginning of “II” coincides with the gentle but constant sounds of an alarm going off. It’s a nice summary for his music as a whole: it’s caustic and disruptive in a deceptively quiet world that expects you not to notice. Next time you have a bubble bath, try to sit completely still for just one minute. If you don't succeed, there's your answer: there's no such thing as new age. There's no such thing as ambient. All there is to life is a lot of annoying interruptions.
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- July 18, 2004 by Expo '70
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