As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Expo ’70.
Justin Wright, also known as Expo ’70, is a true mixologist. His blend of static drones, heavy riffage, acid-washed psychedelia, and earth-shaking low-end births music that not even Jefferson Airplane and Black Sabbath could have created with the perfect set of circumstances; the formula has yet to be created by science and nature is too fearful of the power such a unity would yield. Thankfully, Wright is the anomaly he is because just one Expo ’70 is more than enough for those who have dreamed off the day that San Francisco and Birmingham were forged into one.
Psychosis, Justin Wright’s latest for Peasant Magik, has more scorched earth left behind in its path than William Tecumseh Sherman ever dreamed of producing. Each side of Psychosis is its own complete thought, only disturbed by slight changes in the personality of the track. Side A is spent dissecting “Sleeping Corpse,” a three-part jam that is slower, heavier, and darker than many doom acts would ever attempt. It is seven minutes into the 9-minute “Into Body” before the first signs of guitar are to be found. Wright has buried his six strings under layers of drone—at first mechanical yet tranquil, but before long “Into Body” is bursting open at the seams, seeping thickets of bubbling static. When Wright’s guitar has finally pushed its way to the top, it dares not to stop. “Cold Forecasting,” the second act of “Sleeping Corpse” is akin to Earth’s (the band, not the planet) Dylan Carlson’s infinite refrains with two monotonous chords seesawing back and forth below a majestic solo that soars high like an acid trip, finally dissolving into “Breaking the Dirt.”
The B-side of Psychosis again splits itself among three acts, this time titled “Widow Planet.” Part one, “Left to Die,” begins ominously, with pulsating bass that recalls Pink Floyd’s “Sheep.” Much like Side A, it takes quite awhile before the first guitar note is played—well into part two’s “Stark Bleakness Rising.” Unlike its Side A counterpart, “Widow Planet” focuses on lighter drones and carefully placed reverberation to create a mode more somber than “Sleeping Corpse” conjures. Psychosis finishes with “Haunting the Terrain,” which cleanses the palate and is an easy comedown after the high of the album’s first five pieces. Psychosis is only for the most fearless psychedelics considering Justin Wright nosedives down to Earth’s (the planet, not the band) hot core. As the journey gains momentum and the temperatures rapid rises, you’ll begin to feel faint and weak. Psychosis is an endurance test of the highest degree, and should you pass it you’ll find yourself eager to take the ride again and again.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.