Album Review: Brin & Dustin Wong – Texture II : An intense connection of micro-beats and shifting loops with a free jazz spirit.

The Breakdown

This is music that in many ways challenges description and wriggles free of easy comparisons. That’s what makes it so intriguing and inexplicably intoxicating.
Leaving Records 8.8

Imagining the outcome of this collaboration is in many ways a bit of a stretch. First there is guitarist Dustin Wong, in the past a key member of the under-valued Ponytail, who rode the first math-rock wave along with Battles, and more recently an explorer of interwoven guitar pieces, often long form, for Thrill Jockey. His three releases with leftfield singer-songwriter/gutarist Takako Minekawa began an integration with pure electronic forms and a less instrument focused approach which carried him onto the recently released, melodically shimmering ‘Perpetual Morphosis’.

Then there’s Brin (aka Colin Blanton), a drummer plus electronic musician who for some time now has been a contributor in and around the Leaving Records soundscape, applying himself to the consideration of convergences between ambient, techno and improv. His last album in 2021, the multi-meshed and immersive ‘Water Sign’, took nano-sampling and percussive loops to new levels of thrilling complexity. So the only thing predictable about Brin and Dustin Wong’s debut album ‘Texture II’ (available now via Leaving Records) is its unpredictability and on that score it certainly delivers. This is music that in many ways challenges description and wriggles free of easy comparisons. That’s what makes it so intriguing and inexplicably intoxicating.

Underpinned by snatches and snippets of micro-beats, shape – shifting loops of sound and interference plus a tight-rope walking free jazz spirit, ‘Texture II’ takes the hyperactive route to keeping your attention. Opener Texture 1: Bespoke Trapeze begins gently enough, those becalmed new-age sighs of synths and voices pointing in one direction but the rumbles and clangs of percussion suggest something more restless. Gradually as the free form drum rolls gain momentum, vocal patterns shimmer dub-wise within a circuit of sounds and scales. Somehow though the lid gets kept on any pandemonium breaking out in this tense, ‘edge of your seat’ experimentation.

It’s that spontaneity, a feeling that you are travelling with the musicians in-the-moment, which gives the Brin & Dustin Wong debut its essential energy. The duo clearly relish this close improvisational relationship which began when Wong invited Blanton to collaborate on a live session for his ‘Why Did Why Did Why Did’ radio show on ‘Texture II’ sees that connectivity captured and preserved although the pieces on the album, which evolved from recorded improv conversations, never arrive over-polished.

Maybe it’s the hyper-broken beat foundations percolating through the tracks which ensures such dynamic intensity rarely drops. There are glimpses back to Brin’s bio-techno explorations in the full throttle flow of Texture II: Slick Current where Dustin Wong’s guitar lines and bass synth heft add low end depth to the urgent rhythmic clatter. A similar fractured tempo opens the pivotal Texture IV: Things Changing Into Other Things, a title which wryly summarises the Brin/Wong approach. Of course there’s much more going on here than aimless audio morphing. Texture IV gradually unknots itself from a disorientating sound scramble into something with focus as the whoops, whistles and droplets bundle up into a fractured, hyper-looped, sci-fi latin hustle. Polyrhythms, glacial synths plus gliding eastern melodies cast shades of emotional mystery over this Brin and Wong soundscape.

It’s such reference points and the partnership’s narrative purpose which keeps the ‘Texture II’ album from floating adrift from the listener. Closing cut Texture V: Sunset Chime shows similar intent with an organic fusion of the celestial and experimental, new age and environmental. As the waves crash and thunder rolls, the final minimal melody and glimmer of synth strings on the horizon make for a peaceful and satisfying resolution. This album unassumingly delivers an astute and inventive collection of Textures on which Brin & Dustin Wong offer a strong reminder of what the musician will always bring to any post-human future, that intangible creative spark.

Get your copy of ‘Texture II’ by Brin & Dustin Wong from your local record store or direct from Leaving Records HERE

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