Justin Wright’s Expo 70 never disappoints around here, and his latest slab of sonic dread is no different. Laced with drones, heavy and leaden as cinder block bunkers, and shot through with a cosmic strain of psychedelia that unwinds as much as unravels the soul; Kinetic Tones is another massive album for the band. Forty minutes, four tracks and all dense sonic tumbles through the Kosmiche eye. The album creeps in slow and steady, with a desolate dronescape that dredges up all those Earth comparisons, then things expand into heady territory, shifting to sweeping alien psych that feels as removed from the concept of pop music as possible. There’s always a sense of foreboding present on Expo 70’s releases and it rears its head here as well. For its reliance on limited melodic motion, drone knows how to play the long game, and here the tonal shifts slowly grip the listener like low level panic until it feels like it might overwhelm.
The record is dedicated to an endangered species of Indonesian bird of prey, the Flores Hawk-eagle, and its almost easy to see how the life of such an animal might influence the pieces here. The feelings embedded in Wright’s drones are atmospheric, towering above us in a detached freedom, but the sense of loss, loneliness and uncertainty of survival run deep. The closer “Ascension From Dusk” has the kind of masterful mix of sour stomach dread and reluctant acceptance that made the best John Carpenter soundtracks stick long after the credits rolled. This one’s another keeper in Expo 70’s long (40+) discography.
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