City Paper is not for tourists
If you initially misread the title of Dustin Wong’s latest full-length, like I did, forgive yourself: It’s called Mediation of Ecstatic Energy, but it’d work just as well if the first word was “Meditation.” It’s an album consumed with spirituality, from the aura photo of Wong on the cover to the song titles referencing his childhood attendance at a Christian school in Tokyo, where the guitarist, late of Baltimore, now lives. Wong records his mostly instrumental songs by looping twinkly guitar figures with an artillery of pedals, building in rhythms, counterrhythms, dovetailing melodies, harmonic left turns, and even bass-like parts as he goes, a technique he says was partially inspired by religious music sung in rounds. Wong’s music can feel like a shimmery layering of psalms or koans, with most of his compositions eventually building to wild, ebullient resolutions—the same “ecstatic energy” that fans will recognize from Wong’s days in the joyous and jittery Baltimore bands Ponytail and Ecstatic Sunshine. In some of his most affecting songs, like Mediation’s lead-off track “The Big She,” Wong even wails wordless syllables, as though his airy voice and buoyant guitar strums are working out their parts in a teenage symphony to God.
Dustin Wong performs with The Dodos at 8 p.m. at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $15. (202) 667-4490. blackcatdc.com.