Dustin Wong

Dustin Wong is a highly inventive guitarist whose fluid, playful compositions make heavy usage of loop and delay pedals. Initially known for his work with Baltimore-based noise rock groups Ecstatic Sunshine and Ponytail during the 2000s, he released several acclaimed solo albums throughout the following decade, including 2013's Mediation of Ecstatic Energy and 2018's Fluid World Building 101 with Shaman Bambu, which reflected the increasing use of electronics in his music. . He also embarked on a fruitful collaboration with Japanese pop musician Takako Minekawa that began with the playful experiments of 2013's Toropical Circle and extended to improvised ambient pieces such as 2019's Kannazuki. Wong was born in Hawaii but raised in Tokyo. For most of his studies, he attended a Christian school that introduced him to singing in rounds, a concept he extended to loops in his later music. After returning to the U.S. to attend university, he played with several bands, most notably Ecstatic Sunshine, his mid-2000s duo with Co La's Matt Papich, and the sprawling noise pop outfit Ponytail. He began his solo career in 2007, crafting instrumental guitar pieces aided only by a pedal board that he used to build a cacophony of textures through delay effects and loop units. His debut album, 2009's Seasons, followed the same format of unaccompanied guitar, and his second release, the cassette-only Let It Go for Watercooler, expanded his horizons with a touch of keyboard and drum machine. In the autumn of 2010, Thrill Jockey released Infinite Love. The following year was a significant one for Wong. Ponytail released their third and final album, Do Whatever You Want All the Time, and broke up a few months later. Wong's split LP with Gentle Friendly appeared during the same year. Before 2011 came to a close, he returned to Japan to visit with family and friends after the earthquake and tsunami the country endured earlier that year. While playing some shows in Tokyo, he connected with experimental pop artist Takako Minekawa, and they began working together on improvised ambient pieces that blended Wong's experimental approach with Minekawa's deceptively playful melodies. In 2012, Wong released his third solo album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, and moved to Japan, where he continued his collaboration with Minekawa. The pair's first release was the fractured pop of Toropical Circle, which Thrill Jockey released in May 2013. Later that year, Wong released the entirely solo collection Mediation of Ecstatic Energy, an instrumental collection that delved more deeply into his explorations of rhythm and cycles and completed his trilogy of albums for Thrill Jockey. In 2014, Wong and Minekawa issued Savage Imagination, a free-flowing set of pieces that reflected the duo's increasingly fluent interplay and featured more samples and textures. The following year, the pair released the single "Payapaya." For their third album, Wong and Minekawa took inspiration from Japanese and European fusion artists, as well as some hearing issues Wong suffered while making Are Euphoria, which arrived in 2017 and featured production by Papich. While on the Are Euphoria tour, the duo collaborated with the Chicago free music trio Good Willsmith (TALsounds' Natalie Chami, MrDougDoug's Doug Kaplan and Mukqs' Maxwell Allison) on a set of spontaneous compositions. Umor Rex released the session as Exit Future Heart in May 2018. Later that year, Wong's solo cassette Fluid World Building 101 with Shaman Bambu was issued by Hausu Mountain, a label run by members of Good Willsmith. Just over a year later, Minekawa and Wong teamed up with producer Tarnovski and Haco, the former singer for the Japanese art-pop group After Dinner, on another live improvised album. Recorded in Tokyo in 2017, the 18-minute piece Kannazuki -- named after the tenth month of the Japanese lunar year -- was released by Warm Winters in June 2019. ~ Paul Simpson & Heather Phares

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