Tag Archives: Dustin Wong

This Week’s Essential Releases: Jazz-Funk, Electronic, Hardcore and More

7 essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Album of the Day: Dustin Wong + Takako Minekawa + Good Willsmith, “Exit Future Heart”

Tokyo-based duo Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa were passing through Chicago while on tour last year, and decided to take a few hours to jam with the Windy City trio Good Willsmith (Natalie Chami—aka TALsounds—Doug Kaplan, and Maxwell Allison); the six tracks that comprise Exit Future Heart were improvised and recorded during that session. It would have been hard to predict in advance how things would have turned out: Both acts tend to approach their mostly-electronic compositions playfully, with Wong and Minekawa favoring to regular patterns and cute melodies, and Good Willsmith opting for the abstract, their improvised free-for-alls ping-ponging all over the place, full of delirious mischief. Combined, they could have easily amplified one another’s kookier aspects and ended up with something both overstimulated and overstimulating.

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The Transcendent Sound of Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa

Dustin Wong Takako Minekawa

Photo by Hiromi Shinada.

To speak with Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa is to speak with one person. Part of this is because Wong does most of Minekawa’s Japanese-to-English translations—aside from the occasional interjection or giggle—but there also seems to be a high level of psychic understanding between them, a characteristic that permeates Are Euphoria, their third record as a duo.

While their first two albums—2013’s Toropical Circle and 2014’s Savage Imagination—are both strong, Are Euphoria takes the duo a step above. Perhaps it’s the three-year gap that led them to this enlightened place, or maybe there’s a new level of comfortability that didn’t exist as strongly prior to Euphoria. Either way, Wong and Minekawa have created one of the year’s best experimental albums, mixing pop sensibilities with rhythmic loops and kinetic percussion.

Soon, they’ll be bringing their tour to the U.S., showcasing these songs for an entirely new audience. Not surprisingly, there are broad cultural gaps between the DIY scenes in Japan and the U.S., yet Wong and Minekawa find merits in both. In Japan, Wong says, “they’re more respectful. But in America, they can show their feelings to you. You quickly understand whether they like you or not.” It’s hard to imagine too many American audiences disliking Wong and Minekawa, though. From their home in Tokyo, the duo spoke about their creative evolution, why performing in their home country can be lonely, and how collaboration begets sonic transformations.

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