Dustin Wong – Infinite Love

Dustin Wong - Infinite Love

Dustin Wong - Infinite Love

Psych guitarists are eschewing bandmates at a greater rate every year. Although composing and recording trippy jams by oneself is nothing new (the 70’s saw great work in this area by Steve Hillage, Manuel Gottsching, and many others), the ease with which anyone can record whatever they want for little to no cost has helped usher in an explosion in the quantity and quality of free-form guitar and synth releases. In the last 3 weeks alone, I’ve reviewed works by Mark McGuire, Raymond Scott Woolson, and Evan Caminiti – all absolutely top notch dreamy psych works built from the bottom up by a single guitarist, and all singular in their esthetic. Add to this heap of great recent guitarist albums Infinite Love, Dustin Wong’s first widely available full-length release, and another singular achievement.

Wong has done well-known work in both guitarscaping band Ecstatic Sunshine and spazzy popsters Ponytail, but is little known by birth name. All that should change because Infinite Love shows him to be one of the most nimble guitar players and imaginative composers around. Infinite Love is ostensibly one piece, but is divided into 15 relatively free-standing tracks. It is also released – with an accompanying DVD – on 2 CDs or records which are subtly different performances of the same piece called “He” and “She”. I could not tell a difference between the two versions until about halfway through each, and even then it isn’t a full divergence. I must admit, it sounded even cooler slightly out of synch as I tried to play them simultaneously, Zaireeka-style. There’s no shortage of ambition going into this project, and it shows.

Sound-wise, Infinite Love is a total rush of color and movement, recorded in a crisp, slightly lof-fi style which nonetheless sounds brightly Technicolor. Wong is overflowing with ideas, and the piece never gets stuck in a trance-inducing holding pattern. Instead of weighing the piece down by making fleeting moments seem like inessential non sequitors  – as frequently happens when a work is crammed full like this – he makes the ideas lock together and feed off of each other, like the best 70’s krautrock jams and 60’s minimalism. For instance, the sixth track on the first disc starts off with the most serene moment on the album, a lullaby backed by staccato playing, which morphs into a Terry Riley-esque cyclical rave up. And although most of the playing stays in the same vein as what he produced in Ecstatic Sunshine, the key difference here is that while those past works followed the logic of growth, this new one follows the illogical caprice of vitality. It’s like the physical format of the recording can barely contain the bubbling, stretching, stuttering, richocheting sonic action it encodes.

Ultimately though, this music is such a vivid sensual experience that intellectualizing it just doesn’t do it justice. A more informative review would be an extensive list of action verbs, or zigging and zagging marks superimposed over wildly trapezoidal shapes. It sounds more like he’s playing a cosmic Lite Brite than a guitar. Not a slow spreading psych filled with guitar soloing, but instead an orchestra of miniatures, Infinite Love presents a joyous world which is always bright and never boring.

Dustin Wong

Thrill Jockey