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Dustin Wong – Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadows Lead February 20, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
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Artist: Dustin Wong

Album: Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadows Lead

Release: Thrill Jockey, 2012

Genre: Experimental

RIYD: Ponytail, Ecstatic Sunshine, Marnie Stern

As I said in my year-end blurb of their final album, Do Whatever You Want All The Time, the recently-defunct Ponytail’s spirit will live on in the solo work of Dustin Wong. 2010’s Infinite Love, our first glimpse at Wong’s standalone artistry, may have hinted at this, but this year’s Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, his sophomore album, stands as a true testament to the fact.

Ponytail’s latest and last toned down the raucous noise of their earlier work, opting instead for the “honey touches” of rapid plucked guitar, building and layering intricate, swirling, looping arrangements of sun-dappled hooks and radiant flourishes for front-woman Molly Siegel to yelp over. While Molly’s striking vocal contributions are sorely missed, the instrumental work of guitar virtuoso Dustin Wong pick up right where the band left off as they parted.

Each track on the album is a detailed microscopic world, delicately textured with droplets of plucked notes and splashes of electronic color. For the most part, Wong follows his tried-and-true pattern of starting out sparsely, then layering more and more note patterns until the song crescendos into a euphoniously buzzing climax. He hangs there just long enough for the listener’s euphoria to set in, then drops everything he’s built to start fresh with the next set of ideas in the following track. As a result, the “songs” here feel more like brilliant sketches: little excerpts from Wong’s child-like imagination.

Every once in awhile, however, Wong stumbles onto something especially genius, and decides to give his musings a chance to grow organically over the course of five or six minutes, as opposed to the usual two or three. These centerpiece tracks (including the playful “Toe Tore Oh”, the shimmering “Evening Curves Straight”, and the stuttering, hypnotic “Space Tunnel Graffiti”) are fully-formed compositions that provide the ultimate payoff that each of the smaller exercises seem to be building toward.

To top it all off, Dustin Wong finishes an album full of anti-climactic builds with no release with the most epic release of them all. Closer “Diagonally Talking Echo”, the only to feature vocals and one of the first to show off Wong’s own pipes, channels Ponytail’s spirit most strongly. Taking a page from ex-bandmate Siegel’s book, Wong attempts to pierce our eardrums in a cleansing, high-energy, tribal wail that perfectly captures the essence of what made Ponytail’s music so good and reincarnates it in this exciting new project.

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