Dustin Wong: Seasons
Between his years in glimmering guitar duo Ecstatic Sunshine and meteoric art-rock band Ponytail, guitarist Dustin Wong has become a very hot commodity. While his work with those groups shone on in the foreground, the radiant sounds of Seasons were coming together slowly, from 2002-'07, on rudimentary recording equipment in Wong's home. This process is all explained on the back cover of his solo debut, in Wong's own handwriting. The very human scrawl is itself an apt introduction to the record, a more introspective, personal, and just plain pretty composition than we've heard from Wong in band form.
Listeners will already be acquainted with the warm guitar tones that permeate Seasons' four compositions, which reflect the moods of the four seasons; Ecstatic Sunshine, at least 50 percent in part because of Wong's guitar, was as apt a moniker as they come. His guitar is layered and chopped up here with equally glowing sounds from autoharp (a guess), clipped wordless vocals, harmonium, and keyboards tuned at turns to droning hum, poppy bounce, or big blocky Close Encounters of the Third Kind patterns, depending on the season and not necessarily at the same time. A grubby electric guitar makes its way in at the beginning of "Summer," but caves quickly to brief passages of warm electro-pop. But the overall feel is more opiate than that, less focused on individual sounds and melodies than how comfortably they smoosh together, vertically and linearly. Sometimes it's abrupt--this was recorded over five years, after all--but mostly this is composed for vibe, and succeeds.