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

Dustin Wong - Diagonally Talking Echo from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Dustin Wong's first solo album Infinite Love was both weird and wonderful, coming out of left field to create a bizarre concept album based around his experimental instrumental guitar work. As a double album it seemed like it would be a daunting listen but it turned out to be anything but. This follow up is shorter and therefore a little more approachable... But in reigning in the scope has it lost some of the magic?

Basically the answer is no. The shorter duration makes the album feel more focused and yet it actually feels more experimental. The music strays into more processed, fractured and electronic sounds and at times it all creates a staggering collage of noise unlike anything you have heard.

The beauty of Wong's sound is in the rhythmic warmth of it all. Each song typically consists of a passage or two that begins simply but gradually builds and layers into a more and more complex piece of music, transforming itself from something delicate and quiet to a far more triumphant conclusion. This is actually the result of Wong's recording process, which involves using pedals to loop elements throughout the song. It means the songs innevitably get increasingly complex as they progress. In fact Wong apparently recorded much this album live, using just a few overdubs to move sounds through the stereo field. The result is a dizzy mix of Eastern-influenced post-rock and folk.

Dreams Say... has some spellbinding moments and it stands up to Wong's previous solo album. It is interesting to hear his ideas gradually evolve and transform his music, often over the course of a single song, and it is this organic growth that makes his music appealing. Despite a shorter duration, I can't help but feel there is still a little too much here to not feel a bit overwhelmed. And yet the best bits shine enough that it is worth persevering. Wong's dreams are complex, overwhelming and at times beautifully uplifting - and well worth listening to.

Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is out on 20 February on Thrill Jockey, available to pre-order on on CD [affiliate link].