Label: Thrill Jockey Release date: 04/10/10 Link: Official Site Buy/MP3: Amazon/Talking Walking Cloud For a while now guitarist Dustin Wong has been on my radar. As a part of Ponytail, he made some incredible noise pop with Ice Cream Spiritual being one of my favourite albums of early 2008 and still something I really enjoy. While I never listened to his debut solo LP, Seasons, I did get a chance to find Let It Go and really enjoyed the diverse mix of drone, electronic, noise, and straight solo guitar pieces. Now with an ambitious double CD or double LP (both with a DVD) called Infinite Love, Wong has reinvented himself as a guitar player and crafted one of the more interesting releases of 2010. First the concept: Infinite Love is an album titled after a psychedelic experience he had and is two albums of the same piece, with two different versions called Brother and Sister. They both share the same first eight tracks, then completely go in different directions, leading to the same ending. It’s kind of crazy, but totally engrossing as a piece for nothing more than guitar and effects. Looping is everywhere, as is well-timed use of distortion, pitch shift, doubling, phasing, and counterpoint to create a dense yet constantly shifting wall of electric guitar. The first comparison to ju,mp to mind is Pat Metheney’s original recording of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, but with a structure of fast/moderato/allegro non troppo/fast. Experiments with drums, digital fuckery, and repetition all yield fruitful results here, especially on Infinite Love (CD 1/CD 2), Track 14, a song that begins with a staccato eight note pulse that then digitally jumps to a 16th note pulse reminiscent of the marimba on Riley’s In C or Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians more than Electric Counterpoint due to the lack of bass. Wong then adds in complementing guitar riffs that dart, descend, ascend, twist, and dance together before dropping a surf rock drum pattern that is as fun as it is surprising. Where Wong’s skill really shines, though, is in his ability to take sections ranging from 30 seconds to almost four and a half minutes and make them all work coherently while making them all sound different, often changing keys with each new section. In a year of ensemble releases and extended electronic pieces from people like Caribou and Sufjan Stevens, it is a welcome reprieve to see a work for one instrument that uses so many different voices and textures to create a piece that is arguably for orchestra. Hell, if transcribed and rearranged for symphony orchestra, this piece could function very well with only minor alterations to account for strings. This is one of those albums that really is impossible to properly describe. Much like how minimalist works often get glazed over or fall prey to pitfall terms like “constant pulse” or “meditative,” it would be a disserve to use such generic words on this unique album. All year I’ve been waiting for minimal music to be as good as this, with Golden Retriever 2 being one of the best minimal albums of the year, but focusing on La Monte Young’s version. Here is pure Reichian minimalism as channelled through the mind and guitar of a severely underrated musician. If nothing else, Infinite Love proves Dustin Wong to be ridiculously skilled with both effects use and as a guitarist, often flawlessly executing difficult passages before perfectly harmonizing with them. While some changes in tempo and between parts can be jarring and feel slightly rushed, it’s a minor quibble than actually keeps the listener on their toes. I look forward to listening to this album more, as the previous four times plus have just not been enough. Prepare to become addicted to this seriously incredible album. Photobucket