Have you ever had a belonging so precious, that you called it your baby? Sometimes I hear people doing so, especially with their personal projects, like plays or albums. They’ve put so much creativity and care into something that they’ve nurtured it into being. Even though those creations carry personality and life, they are still only recognized as objects or things.
Guitarist Dustin Wong goes beyond calling his recent works his babies, and almost feels that the songs from his latest album, Infinite Love, take on the form of two related people; twins in fact. Wong has these twin babies to share, and is coming to DC Saturday night, performing a version of his new material at Subterranean A.
Inside of the record’s gatefold is an incredibly honest recollection giving a small backstory on how Infinite Love came into being. Besides overcoming some stage fright butterflies from the idea of playing alone (Wong was a founding member of the Baltimore band Ponytail), Wong found himself on his 27th birthday in a psychedelic dimension from some hallucinatory drugs. Unsure of what he was feeling, seeing, or saying, he found himself on his bed, and soon, enough, felt like he was going into labor. During this experience, he started whispering the words “Infinite Love”. Those words became more than a strange, psychedelic situation or a mantra; they became the foundation of his new album.
Infinite Love‘s conceptual approach is quite different from other conceptual albums. Instead of focusing on specific ideas and intentions, Wong explores the ideas of permutations. His album goes off into two directions, offering a parallel universe where it is possible to hear other dimensions of one song idea. The two main songs, “Brother” and “Sister”, are his babies. Wong sees them as twins, like Yin and Yang, sharing the same consciousness, but they’re both independently moving in their own direction. “They’re opposites coming together,” Wong informed me. “And they unify in harmony”.
“So when you play live, do you share the “Brother” or the “Sister” version?” I asked. “Or, are there some cousins that come out during performances?”
Wong chuckled a bit, but without calling them cousins, he expressed that during live performances he definitely shuffles the structure around more, especially after his album release and a recent tour with Holy Ghost Party and Avocado Happy Hour, both fellow Baltimore bands. “I’ve been writing in more blocks, more chunks, adding them separately, since the album, and there’s a start and and end,” he explained.
Even though Wong has specific reference points in his music, there isn’t strict organization or direction to his compositions. He didn’t think about creating two versions of one song until he realized that he’d need to make one long song, or two variants of that song. Creating the two identities from one starting point seemed more interesting. If you listen to the record, the songs remain the same for the first part, and about twenty minutes in, they break off into their own beings.
Should you listen to the songs and analyze the difference between the two? Eh, if you want to, but that will definitely take the charm out of the songs themselves. Not all twins enjoy the compare and contrast game. And this is music! Enjoy it, don’t look into it so much! There are differences in inflections and accents, but the same ideas are expressed for the most part in these songs, that started off as jams and ended up, almost as their own, as kinetic characters. “Un-intention is a by-product of intention,” Wong mentioned. “But, it’s more interesting than intention itself”.
Come check out Wong this Saturday at Subterranean A along with Andrew Cedermark and Hume, located at 1432 R St. NW (Breezeway on the left side of the building, entrance on the right) in Washington, DC. This 21 and up show begins at 8 PM.