By clicking play on the widget above, you won’t be listening to a song. Instead you’ll be listening to a sonic painting. The reason I make this distinction is because the music was not written simply to be a pleasantly arranged series of notes. Instead it is a sonic interpretation of the nation of Japan. Dustin Wong, former guitarist in the art rock band Ponytail, has recently taken to using his incredible guitar virtuosity to transform ideas into music. After a series of enchanting dream interpretations, Wong’s latest offering is an enthralling portrait of the country where he grew up. Armed with a guitar and his effects pedals (most notably a loop pedal), Wong fluidly assembles the track starting with percussive plucks and short, legato melodies. As Wong adds layer after layer of sound, the track increases in its intensity and detail. As a person who has been to the Land of the Rising Sun, I envision the flowing landscapes of rural Japan, subtly punctuated with lush mountains and never ending farmland when listening to this composition. Near the end of the sonic painting, a shrill layer of guitar is added, creating a divine sense of dissonance that only enhances the track’s melodic nature. I interpret this new layer as technological Japan, starkly different to what preceded it but able to coexist with nonetheless.
Dustin Wong’s solo LP Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads is out now on Thrill Jockey.