Expo '70

Black Ohms

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Repetition gets a bad rap from some musicians (especially in classical and jazz circles), but in fact, repetition has been creatively advantageous for everyone from James Brown to Fela Kuti to the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. Repetition is an art, and producer/composer/guitarist Justin Wright gives the impression that he is well aware of that fact on Black Ohms. Wright is the leader/founder of Expo '70; he is the brains behind the group, and repetition is the rule throughout this 2008 recording -- which is best described as a blend of progressive rock, ambient electronica, and Krautrock and draws on influences that include Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, and Pink Floyd (among others). This instrumental outing never adheres to a verse/chorus/verse/chorus format. Rather, tracks like "Solitude" (not to be confused with the Duke Ellington standard), "Mind Echo Unit," and "Cosmic Séance" favor an extended drone; the result is musical hypnosis, which is exactly what Wright is going for. And anyone who complains that Black Ohms is overly repetitious is missing the point. This is secular music, but like the spiritual music embraced by Buddhist monks or Hare Krishna devotees, Black Ohms uses repetition to put the listener in a musical trance. Because this 2008 recording is relaxed and unassuming, one could easily keep the volume low and let Wright's drones fade into the background. But listeners who turn the volume up and give Black Ohms their full attention will get a lot more out of this 64-minute CD, which falls short of exceptional but is still a solid and enjoyable contribution to prog rock and ambient electronica.

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