Dustin Wong - Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads | Album Review

Dustin Wong, ex-guitarist of beloved noise-pop spazzers Ponytail, has been goin' it alone for some time now. After leaving behind his old band, another successful project (Ecstatic Sunshine,) and his native Baltimore, MD; Wong made the decision to take the reins and do things on his own terms and, all things considered, things seem to be panning out pretty nicely. Quickly embraced by the scene in his adopted home of Brooklyn, frequently featuring on choice bills throughout the borough's DIY circuit, Wong's latest material brims with the inevitable confidence brought upon by an ever-growing audience.

On his second effort for Thrill Jockey, the beautifully titled Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, Wong's signature brand of dizzying technicolor guitar pop truly shines and sounds like a man at the peak of his creativity. Deciding to stray from the long form, meditative compositions found on 2010's Infinite Love, Wong instead focuses on consolidating ideas into concise, 3-5 minute psychedelic bursts. That's not to say the tracks feel entirely separate, in fact each fades into the next so seamlessly you might easily miss where one track ends and another begins, retaining a laconic fluidity without ever becoming too boring or repetitive.

Opening cut “Ice Sheets on Feet Prints” sets the tone of the record beautifully; A kraut-ish guitar figure thuds away, quickly making room for a barrage of shimmering, layered guitar textures, until the whole thing bursts wide open with a pulsating drum track and Wong's now-infamous foot-on-the-monitor guitar heroics.

If by now you haven't noticed, the guitar takes center stage on this record; particularly Wong's explorations in texture and color through use of his extensive collection of effects. The above photo is strikingly evocative of Wong's guitar stylings; swirling beams of color coming at you from all angles. At the heart of Wong's technique lies the loop station. Each track is delicately constructed from a series of intricately layered guitar figures being pumped through various pedals, resulting in highly rhythmic hypnotic jams. The later album track “Pencil Drove Hill Moon” displays Wong's mastery of the loop station as he impressively harmonizes and manipulates single note patterns into a mosaic of ambient guitar grooves. Wong's effect wizardry is certainly not limited to his beloved loop station, however. Take “On/In the Way,” a short cut that has Dustin pulling out all the stops, using spring reverb and slap-back delay to create a percussive, West African styled lead and a bouncy mimicked bass line that you can't help but bop along to.

Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is ultimately a rather enjoyable record; just one that goes on for a bit too long. Had Wong made the decision to snip a few tracks here and there and tighten things up a bit, he would have been making a wise choice. That's not to say the album drags, because it doesn't. The sequencing is one of the album's strong points. I just feel Wong's tunes are best enjoyed in slightly smaller doses. That being said, this new record is sure to please fans of Dustin's previous work and lovers of experimental guitar pop music; and it's a damn fine record. Just one that could've used a trim here or there.

Dustin Wong - Pink Diamond from Thrill Jockey Records

Dustin Wong's Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads drops this upcoming Tuesday, Feb. 21, via Thrill Jockey Records. Above is the appropriately neon hued video for album cut “Pink Diamond.” Also, if you happen to be in the New York area, Dustin's having a record release party on the 24th of Feb. at La Sala in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Should be a rad one, kids.

-Dylan Smith