What can one say about Expo '70 that hasn't been said before? With each release Justin Wright's continuously evolving space/kraut/drone project continues to garner more praise, making each new release a must grab for fans of experimental and psychedelic music. Apparently Justin thought it was time for some of his Kansas City peers to get some attention of their own, as he recently started his own label, Sonic Meditations, to serve as not only an outlet for his own music, but to also give some other diamonds in the rough their shot at the spotlight. Already four releases deep, it seems this shot was more than warranted. Though two of those four where Expo '70 releases (a cassette re-issue of the amazing 2006 release Center of the Earth, and the galaxy wandering new cassette Corridors to Infinity), the other two releases are equally compelling, though occupying far different spaces than Expo '70. I have had the pleasure of listening to all of the Sonic Meditations releases to this point, and I can verify that they are all quality. From the deep euro-horror inflected grooves of Umberto's "From the Grave", to the incredibly beautiful, pensive tones of Sounding the Deep's "Glacier", these are some special recordings. And they look almost as good as they sound. Especially Expo '70's "Corridors to Infinity", with its gold metallic space cobras set against a dramatic red background. Having been given a chance to hear some of their upcoming releases, I can tell you that the quality of Sonic Meditations recordings is not diminishing any time soon. On deck they have two releases by Plante, paying homage to Fripp with glowing orange tubes, and a tripped-out progfolk excursion by another newcomer calling himself Das Energi. They even managed to get their hands on a new Gnod recording! Entitled "Crystal Pagodas", it sounds as if the somnambulist has awoken and decided to start a cult that worships the motoric. Wild stuff. Naturally, with all this new talent, a new label, and Expo '70 involved, there would be a lot of questions. Luckily Justin was nice enough to answer some of them.
Things are good, but hectic. I am multi-tasking too much and I think my brain is almost fried, but I am ready for this tour. I really enjoy touring and being on the road and wish it was something I could do more often and hope to in the future. This tour is almost all set up, mostly East Coast with Prince Rama of Ayodhya. Looking forward to playing Big Sur this Friday, but not so much into the quick drive back to begin the 2nd part of the tour in the Midwest.
I have been harboring this idea around for a while, even when I was subsequently releasing albums under Kill Shaman. I did most of the initial work on my own, circulating those releases. I figured with everything I had done to get Expo '70 off the ground to become an established name, I started feeling that there was lots of local music not getting any attention in Kansas City except myself. I feel it's time now to let everyone take notice of the great music coming out of here. There isn't anyone else really doing a label like this here. I think the only other people are Goodwillies (Tim & Heather of VxPxC) who moved from Los Angeles last year who are starting to release tapes and vinyl as well. I know there are tons of labels like this out there, but I feel that the quality of music that my friends are doing here needs to be heard and just having a page on myspace these days doesn't really mean shit anymore.
One of the main kick-starts was Sounding the Deep and Plante. Both needed recordings done, but had no way of releasing them except as self-released CD-r's for local shows. I felt they and the other bands need more attention focused on what they're doing. Breathing Flowers (a.k.a. Cantus Firmus) is another example. He's got about a dozen albums recorded and I helped him package and release them under Kill Shaman, but there wasn't a plan to get it heard. I do plan on, at least for now, focusing on the main groups here to get the label going, but I don't plan on staying in Kansa City forever, so I don't want to be restrained by that. I have been meeting great musicians all over the world and would love to release stuff for them. I have been lucky that small labels like Peasant Magik and Small Doses have released Expo '70 material. I have taken cues from what they are doing and ran with it. Gnod is a great band and have the same aesthetics of music that I love and appreciate. Brainworlds is another release I'll be doing later in the year who are from Omaha, but now reside in Atlanta. There will probably be others, but just taking it one step at a time for now.
There are plans to release a vinyl version of "Animism", Expo '70's first proper CD for Kill Shaman from 2007. It's going to be a double LP, which is kind of expensive, so there may be another Expo '70 release to kick off the vinyl aspect of the label. I would love to start doing even lathe cuts in limited quantities. I love analog formats, that's why I have started with cassettes. CD's just seem so disposable these days, I find myself buying and trading more for tapes and records these days.
Well, touring. A new album is about to be released on Beta-Lactam Ring called "Sonic Messenger". This will be a very different album, there are up to 4 people playing on it and it was recorded over two nights this past April at a proper studio. Matt Hill, who does Umberto and has had one solo release on Kill Shaman, has been playing with me more often as my touring partner, adds a really great second dimension to the sound and the new album will definitely show that. David Williams of Sounding the Deep also contributed auxiliary percussion, which I haven't utilized much of. Ashley Miller, the engineer, also performs sporadically here and there all over it. There was enough material for 2 releases so a bonus CD is available with preorders. Aside from that, I can't seem to say no to other releases, so there will be a grip of limited stuff coming out soon as well. I have a lot of unused and un-listened to material still waiting to be unveiled. Just did a record with Aaron Martin, who has released albums on Preservation, and that was about 2 hours that I'll probably be mixing through the winter.
I would untimely love for that to happen, especially on vinyl. I feel the back catalog of albums, especially "Exquisite Lust" and "Center of the Earth", should be on vinyl. That sort of was the ultimate goal with those, I feel that they are really solid works in my catalog and deserve not to be forgotten. I am finally weaning the back catalog of CD-r's off, I had accidentally made too many covers for some of those, but they have finally sold out.
I have been wanting to get into video more, but I guess time has constrained me. I would love to incorporate more of my art into the live shows. I was planning an art show at Good Style shop, but due to work, couldn't make that happen. There is a local band called Be/Non I did album artwork for, who is currently making a movie that will feature the album art as animation at the beginning of it, which is exciting. I was also asked to be involved in a project started by Dan McPharlin, who is a great visual artist and builds miniature analog synthesizers out of cardboard. He's putting a magazine out in book format with a CD and artwork that will have the aesthetics of vintage analog synthesizers with an Omni magazine feel.
That is my SG I use everywhere in my art. It's an Ibanez lawsuit SG from the 70's. The manufactures back then were selling Gibson's designs and got sued, but there are a grip of rip-offs floating around. The amp on top in the "Black Ohms" photo is an Orange Tiny Terror 15 watt head, but I no longer have that. It's been replaced with a white Hiwatt Custom 50 tube head. The amp that is in the middle is a vintage Kustom 100 combo amp, padded all in black, then the Hiwatt is connected to the 4x12 speaker cabinet on bottom. When Matt plays with me, his two combo amps are on either side of my amps, creating a totem or pyramid shape. I also have an arsenal of pedals, some store bought, some modded and hand built. Matt plays bass, vintage Korg synth, and we both have analog drum machines. Also just added a Sound Lab from Planet Synth, I read about on Foxy D!
My influences for starting into the world of music will have to start with the first time I learned how to load a reel-to-reel player with Led Zeppelin "II" and Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" in my dad's Panasonic reel player. I was astounded with the sounds coming out of that when I was a kid! I guess this leads into the all-time artists being Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Can, Faust, Pink Floyd...the greats. As far as my influences in current music, that would have to be Troum, Taj Mahal Travellers, Klaus Schulze, early Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Duul II, Hawkwind, Harmonia, Cluster, Ariel Kalma, Christopher Tree, Tony Conrad, Popol Vuh, La Monte Young, Terry Riley and Sleep's "Jerusalem". The list could go on and on. Newer stuff like James Blackshaw, Daniel Higgs, OM, Svarte Greiner, Fursaxa, Peaking Lights, Plants, Neokarma Jooklo Trio, Black to Comm, Mythical Beast, Psychic Ills, Blues Control, Bong, and Electric Wizard also get heavy play time.
Just happy people are taking interest in the label and hope it continues, as it will be a vehicle for more great music, art and relationships with people around the world. Music has always been a big part of my life and I'm happy to be contributing my life to it as much possible. 10.20.09 Metropolis Underground (615 S. Main Street, Syracuse, NY) w/ TBA
10.21.09 Recording @ Black Dirt Studio (Westtown, NY)
10.22.09 WNYU Presents: The Market Hotel (1142 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY) w/ Gary War, Eric Copeland (Black Dice), Fluffy Lumbers with DJs Mike McGill and Mr. A Ok
10.23.09 Whitehaus Family Hootenanny (10 Seaverns Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA) w/ TBA
10.24.09 Pete's Candy Shop (709 Lorimer St, Williamsburg, NY) CMJ SHOWCASE w/ The Great Republic of Rough and Ready, The Moore Brothers
11.21.09 Under the Radar @ The Foundation (1221 Union Ave, KCMO) Daughters of the Sun, Aaron Martin, CJ Boyd, Matt Dill, Doby Watson
-- Bryan King (21 October, 2009)