Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Dustin Wong certainly isn't the first guitarist to use delays and/or loopers to layer guitar parts on top of each other, but he has managed to develop a very personal sound doing it. He uses some of the arpeggiated figures he used in Ponytail but the layering leads to some complex and fascinating interactions as new rhythms and melodies are created from the mixed parts. There are times when the interlocking guitar parts are reminiscent of Discipline-era King Crimson.
The output of guitarist Dustin Wong has gradually shifted from chaotic to crystalline. His early work with Ecstatic Sunshine veered toward shaggy guitar rock, while Ponytail was like an unhinged version of Deerhoof with odd hooks and wordless vocals. Wong's solo work, though obviously springing from the same headspace, consolidates and unifies his aesthetic.
Perhaps the most significant moment on the new Dustin Wong album occurs right at the end. After nearly 60 minutes of delicately intertwined, densely layered guitar loops, the former Ponytail guitarist decides it’s time to interject his voice. Words, however, are not required. On Diagonally Talking Echo, pre-verbal yelps and playful hollering reminiscent of Animal Collective serve as the moment when the wizard peeks his head out from behind the curtain.
You know those records that weigh so heavily on your very soul? The records that creep with you into the dark recesses to give you solace and assure you that they understand your pain? This isn’t one of them. God bless records like Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, the ones that wouldn’t know the meaning of pain if it fell on top of them like an airborne piano. They live in a self-contained world of beauty and contentment, and function seemingly as pleasant getaways when that’s all it is you’re after.
Ed Sheeran has a lot to answer for, but for now we blame him for the death of the loop pedal – a useful tool becomes naff with one flick of his child sneakers. But it’s OK, because [a]Dustin Wong[/a] is here to reclaim it. The second solo release from the guitarist from Ponytail (RIP) is constructed from loop pedal machinations, mostly using his guitar with various effects.
If there’s one accusation that can’t be levelled at Dustin Wong, it’s that he doesn’t know the way around his instrument. The Baltimore resident, formerly of fun art rock experimentalists Ponytail, is adept at creating colourful, intricately woven tracks using only his guitar and an array of pedals, with very little studio interference beyond the occasional overdub. It is impressive stuff, hypnotic and gently beguiling, and makes for a rather lovely listen.