Dustin Wong – Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads

written by: March 6, 2012
Release Date: Feb. 21, 2012


Experimental guitarist Dustin Wong was born in Hawaii and grew up in Japan before coming back to the U.S., but his music doesn’t sound like anything else on earth. Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is one of the most challenging, intriguing pop albums to grace this still-fresh year.

Wong has branched out impressively from the surf-rock influence of his previous releases, and even in a music scene that has more than a few other masters of the dense sonic landscapes and loop-pedal kung fu, this album stands out.

Even though Wong is a guitarist making use of a loop pedal and heavy production, his stuff brings to mind the electronic experimentation of the late 1970s. There’s a pure joy on display in Wong’s playing with tones and notes and slotting them into incredibly complicated, clockwork compositions.

“Purple Slipped Right” is a great example: whatever the opposite of minimalism is, that’s what this song is. Clicks, beeps and every possible sound that a person can get out of a guitar is conjured up into space one by one and conscripted into service. It’s too busy and demanding to be truly ambient, and more mechanical and technical than Zoe Keating or Owen Pallet, who also like to build up songs using loop pedals and single instruments.

Other numbers, such as “Pencil Drove Hill Moon,” are so statico that they sound like the soundtracks to the marvelous, experimental Nintendo games that you never played. The way simple melodies loop in on themselves, gaining in complexity each time is something of an acquired taste, but it has a profoundly hypnotic fractal quality.

Of course, like any really good experiment, sometimes it goes a bit far. “Space Tunnel Grafitti“ starts with a piercing sound like a fire alarm that takes a solid minute to even start evolving into something you might loosely call “pleasant to listen to.” It’s the same principle that drives the pleasantly wind-chime waterfall sounds that open “Diagonally Talking Echo,” but it’s been stretched to the point that it’s just broken.

Tracks like “Tea Tree Leaves Retreat” which seem like they’re trying to be soothing never really are, either: there’s just too much finicky stuff going on absolutely all the time. The only real emotion this album seems to be able to convey is a kind of playful glee, and it’s the tracks that bask most blatantly in it, like “Pink Diamond,” that are the high points.

Still, there’s a pure joy of watching somebody drive across the music map, hit the bit marked, “Here there be dragons,” and keep going at full speed. That makes this album a worthwhile listen.

Dustin Wong – Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads tracklist:

  1. “Ice Sheets on Feet Prints”
  2. “Feet Prints on Flower Dreads”
  3. “Abstract Horse Slow Motion”
  4. “Tea Tree Leaves Retreat”
  5. “Triangle Train Stop”
  6. “To Tore Oh”
  7. “On/In the Way”
  8. “Pink Diamond”
  9. “Purple Slipped Right”
  10. “Route Through Eyebrow”
  11. “Sprinkle Wet Toes”
  12. “Pencil Drove Hili Moon”
  13. “Evening Curves Straight”
  14. “Back Towards Night”
  15. “Space Tunnel Grafitti”
  16. “Diagonally Talking Echo”