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

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Artist: Dustin Wong

Album: Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Feb. 21, 2012

How’s this for progress? When Steve Reich decided to make music like this in 1988, he had to book Pat Metheny into the Power Station for a week to do it. All Dustin Wong has to do is plug his guitar and seven-step chain of pedals and filters into his computer at home, and he’s on his way.

Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is the former Ponytail guitarist’s second solo record, and despite the unwieldy title, it reflects a potent streamlining of means that reflects the way he does things both at home and in concert. Infinite Love was a two-disc/DVD examination of a single piece that he apparently so loved, he couldn’t pick a definitive version or format. This one features 16 tunes, each one following the last so closely that you might think the record is a single suite. Such proximity blurs the fact that there is one thing Wong seems not to have picked up since Infinite Love is how to end things. Each track switches on, bubbles along for a while, and finally either quits or crossfades into the next track. While that might work every now and again, over the course of the album it starts to feel more like a shortage of ideas.

Taken one or two at a time, though, Wong sounds like he’s onto something. While Brian Eno and Robert Fripp first brought the music-as-system aesthetic within hailing distance of pop music in the mid-’70s, Wong is way ahead of them when it comes to making his system turn out things that sound like pop songs. He might construct them by stacking one loop on top of another and setting them all a-spinning like the gears in a watch, but you can generally count on one of them to have an AM-radio-worthy hook growing out of the gear teeth. And while he’s short on ideas of how to bring his tunes to an end, he has plenty of imagination when it comes to finding varied guitar tones, from bright and pearly to blunt and crunchy. I don’t suppose this is an album for the ages, but as tasty trifles go, you could do far worse.

By Bill Meyer

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