Dustin Wong  Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
    • FRIDAY, MARCH 02, 2012

    • Posted by: Don Saas

    Is it possible for an album to have a plethora of stand-out tracks but to crumble because the structure tying these tracks together is so faulty? On Dustin Wong's (formerly of Ponytails) newest full-length, the word salad titled Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, an evershifting dreamscape of looped guitar textures and soaring melodies is crippled when the album's momentum always crashes to a complete and too sudden halt at the end of each song and we are forced to re-invest ourselves in his intricate compositions all over again. This album is jam-packed full of brilliant moments, and many of its tracks taken by themselves are wondrous feats of Dustin Wong's nearly peerless guitar looping talents, but when the album is taken as a whole, it too often comes off as 16 tracks with nothing binding them all together.

    For those not familiar with Wong's idiosyncratic approach to guitar music, each song is a tapestry of looped guitars weaving in and out while Wong fiddles with pitch-shifters and other effects pedals. Each song begin with a simple main guitar rhythm and then Dustin will add one new piece of music to be looped over the other rhythm and then another and then another (you get the picture) until you have a majestic mosaic of moving parts that create a stunning whole. Far too often, looped music is an excuse to make slightly dull ambient music which be fun to appreciate from a technical perspective, but unless we're talking Person Pitch or Visions, that kind of music never really pops. Dustin Wong's music is never boring, and at times, it can be simply awe-inspiring, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the pieces falls apart so needlessly as well.

    Just when the songs seem to reach their heights, the listener has been trained by years of listening to popular music to expect a decent devotion to the emotional climax of the tune, proportional to the length of the song and then a steady outro til the end. Wong's songs almost invariably reach their climax and then end suddenly and without any warning. It makes the listener not want to invest in the music because with the exceptions of tracks like "Toe Tore Oh" and "Pink Diamond," the song builds higher and higher and teases you with more and then it just burns you. You'll suddenly go from dozens of different guitar loops playing at once to just one piece all over again and you have to start from scratch. Had Dustin Wong given more time to allowing his pieces to flow naturally together, he could have crafted the album to prove that solo guitar rock still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Instead, he'll have to settle for the (admittedly not as bad as we're making it sound) distinction of having an album full of singles that never coalesces into a real final product.

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