Release Date: Oct 5, 2010
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Dustin Wong’s band Ponytail went surprisingly far on a thin formula of musical ebullience and singer Molly Siegel’s stuttering, overly caffeinated vocals. Wong’s complex guitarwork likely had something to do with that success, too, though Siegel generally stole the show, both live and in reviews. Now, with Ponytail on hiatus, Wong has begun performing and recording solo.
Infinite Love is Dustin Wong’s second solo release of the year and his Thrill Jockey debut. Amid a growing catalogue of emphatic guitar performances with Ecstatic Sunshine, Ponytail, and on his lonesome, it’s a release that boils over with exceptional musical and conceptual exuberance. Structurally, it’s a double LP composed of two related album narratives sharing the same A-side and final three tracks.
When I heard that Baltimore quartet Ponytail grew out of an assignment in a college art class, I expected them to sound heavily conceptual and musically primitive-- more interested in ideas than technique. It turned out they did have an abstract side, especially in the word-less vocals of Molly Siegel, but they were also seriously proficient musicians. Drummer Jeremy Hyman whipped up a tornado of rhythms-- he's now a go-to percussionist for the Boredoms-- and intercutting guitarists Ken Seeno and Dustin Wong were fast, complex, and precise.
Psych guitarists are eschewing bandmates at a greater rate every year. Although composing and recording trippy jams by oneself is nothing new (the 70’s saw great work in this area by Steve Hillage, Manuel Gottsching, and many others), the ease with which anyone can record whatever they want for little to no cost has helped usher in an explosion in the quantity and quality of free-form guitar and synth releases. In the last 3 weeks alone, I’ve reviewed works by Mark McGuire, Raymond Scott Woolson, and Evan Caminiti – all absolutely top notch dreamy psych works built from the bottom up by a single guitarist, and all singular in their esthetic.
Bob Dylan No wonder that upstart from the hinterlands — Minnesota! — astonished the Greenwich Village folkies. He had learned profound lessons from the blues, Appalachian ballads, gospel, pop and agitprop. His voice had a young man’s vigor and an older man’s scars and snarls. He could summon righteous anger, absurdist humor and a sense of language that might be casually down-home or biblical in its gravity.