Dustin Wong – Perpetual Morphosis
8.4.23 by Matty McPherson
It must have been 1974 when my dad made the mobile. A series of aluminum rods, bent and dictated into 5 perfectly balanced three dimensional…squares? wheat thins? DNA modules? I’ve never known, but it’s the kind of object that looms over the family and reminds me of an underlying rigidity and focus that must’ve been instilled in me by ways of family history. But right now (in the recent past), it’s early June. Dustin Wong is showing me and my buddy, Thomas, the mobile that bestows the cover of his latest, Perpetual Morphosis. In case you haven’t heard, today is August 4th, 2023, and Dustin Wong has returned to Hausu Mountain with his latest, Perpetual Morphosis. Dustin resettled in LA a handful of years back and has slowly woven himself back into the LA Floating event scene here post-COVID. He’s just now coming off of a spring residency put on by Floating that’s blossomed into a collaborative release with Brin for Leaving Records rather shortly.
Anyways, Dustin is showing us that mobile (it is about the size of a small medal). And no, it’s not AI generated, but a legitimate object that exists on Dustin’s desk the same way my dad’s exists above the hi-fi where most releases are reviewed. His just happens to be made from paperclips, brightly colored and a potent reminder of the day & age. At the same time, Dustin is waxing poetic about the recording of the album, discussing the unique set-up of his LA apartment and the otherworldly intersection he finds himself at. The kind of intersection that sees a jumble of noises colliding with astronomical consistency, like his mobile. It all reveals it to be an effort much more based around a sense of place than anticipated, more than anything that can be artificially generated.
Our conversation with Dustin will remind me of a couple crucial things. Firstly, that Dustin is perhaps the most undersung individual to come out of Baltimore 00s scene, itself one of the more psychedelic American regional scenes. He’ll recount warehouse parties and playing with Dan Deacon, as much as the days in the undersung Ponytail (no word on a reunion…yet!); all of which should remind you that his music has a hazy jank that many attempt but few can ascertain like Dustin. Secondly, that Dustin’s methodology of creating music came with the advent of computers. He learned to loop a chord the LONG, PANIFUL way before playing guitar proper. As such, he’s concocted a particular flavor for texture, tension, calamity, and drone bliss that’s become only part of his bag of tricks. Thus, Dustin became something of a journeyman for those who sought out particular digital trickery that could detach and deconstruct the guitar into a loop-finding electronic production.
Perpetual Morphosis is his first proper in the 2020s, subtracting a handful of appearance or his Deathbomb Arc loosie from a couple years back. Dustin’s always evolving though and tests the limits of his electronic production to bring a new element into focus . What Perpetual Morphosis proves is that Dustin was able to internalize the shifting tectonics of LA against his recording and mixing set up into a situated sonic roadmap of the region; neighborhoods that sprawl out, intersections that ram into each other, the noise of a vaguely functioning, but underutilized metro. I’ve vaguely to this with Andy Loebs’ last two cassette releases, both of which gave samplepedic overload noise rigidity and motion need to define “goo core” open zones; the kinds that had nods to the real world but were of their own accord somewhere outside here. And Dustin Wong, arguably the loop-oriented “goo age” guru has been tackling that for quite a while across the 2010s. Still, Perpetual Morphosis does feel like the first time since Norman W. Long’s 2021 Hausu Mountain effort that a roster artist has been actively engaging in sonic roadmapping. And Dustin’s happens to be a dense, brightly layered variant that deftly reveals just how much we’ve missed music from him.
Note the quivers to the loops of Pegasi. The small quippy voices that pop under the Audhumla Thaw’s dub-damaged bubbles. The way Elegant Stumbler’s Atelier well…stumbles like you collapsed down Angel’s Flight on the way to whatever $20 sandwich is at the LA Public Market. There’s similarity and sequential consistency to Wong’s compositions. But each one pervades and spreads out on its own accord! Dustin’s palette often coming to bring a hi-hat or bright “pop” & structure that maps the ways a loop can spiral into that mobile on the cover, or an LA neighborhood can tangle itself into a ball. It should be noted that Dustin’s low-end on several tracks is majestic and thoughtfully expansive; especially on centerpiece “Memory River – Future Composite”. Those massive “CRASH!” keys that cause a 1000 ft drop echo the same way a car in an empty parking structure or a fireworks beckons off into the night. Dustin revels in these compositions, and it’s amongst the most joyous work of his career, let alone an LA artist in recent memory.
Limited Edition Cassette Now Available at the Hausu Mountain Bandcamp Page!