To listen to a Dustin Wong album is to step into a universe that’s in a perpetual state of becoming. Electronics burble and whine in fractal vibrations, while percussion clatters and kickdrums thump in asymmetrical splashes. Washes of voice and guitar drift in and out like benign ghosts. Everything is in constant motion, as if we’re piloting ourselves through a chaotic iteration of Minecraft set in the rainforests of J.G. Ballard’s ‘The Crystal World’.
I first came across Wong in his endearingly loopy collaborations with Takako Minekawa (2014’s ‘Savage Imagination’ is a good entry point). Wong and Minekawa’s improvisations are teeming, kinetic things, streaming out in all directions like bacteria fashioned from Technicolor plasticine. Wong’s solo outings are a little more restrained, retaining the hyperreal plasticity of those collaborations, while enabling him to exert subtle editorial control over his voyages into the candy-coloured outer reaches.
As a result, ‘Fluid World Building 101 With Shaman Bambu’ ranges from careering psychedelic jams (the goggle-eyed pitch-bends and glittering chimes of ‘World Builder Imagines A City’) through amorphous bubblegum dreams (the blurred timpani and mammalian yelps of ‘Cup Of Seashells At Neural Tower’) to keening, sugary laments fastened to brittle fibreglass songforms (the frog chorus and lilting saturation of ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’). It’s a trip, alright.
If the occasional scent of Haroumi Honoso and his various associated projects is sometimes discernible through the high-contrast glare, Wong balances the debt with enough wit and invention to assure us that his own singular direction is clearly marked out. That he manages to do all this without displaying overtly monomaniacal tendencies in his sound-making is equally impressive. Instead of an artist-obsessive, painstakingly crafting every peak and fissure of his vision in raddled severity, there’s a frazzled, beaming bandleader conducting a sentient orchestra, his instruments chirruping to themselves as the mountains sing and the oceans croon.