Dustin Wong, former member of Ponytail and Ecstatic Sunshine, is a musical enigma of sorts. Transcending conventional music stigmas regarding lone guitar-wielding men, he isn't your prototypical whiskey-and- sorrow-laden Sisyphus relegated to meditating on the insurmountable pain of existence. Contrary to the culturally romanticized anti-hero often found decaying in a small blue-collar town, Wong's music serves to abolish the notion that Elliott Smith couldn't have gone to space.

While my point may be overstated, and any Smith/Wong comparison I could make a gruesome and exhausting stretch of journalistic masturbation (although Wong's take on Eric Satie's Gymnopédie #1 makes a strong case in my argument's favor), Wong and contemporaries Mark McGuire (Emeralds) and Ben Greenberg (Hubble) form an interesting segment in the guitar's historical narrative. And although none of the aforementioned have gone on to achieve mass cultural notoriety, it still doesn't seem farfetched to think of any of them as Django Reinhardt, had he existed in the 21st century.

Thanks in part to a mature understanding and manipulation of the dichotomy of tradition and progress, Wong's music is enchanting. Effect-pedals, loops and oscillators exist in Wong's musical symposium to give his technical prowess a more distinct identity and to provide playgrounds for his wanderlust. At no point does the guitar fall from centerpiece, nor does Wong's ability come into question; he's making obsessive guitar music that is as philosophically interesting as it is enjoyable. When asked late last year whether there was a theme or something he hoped to convey in his music, Wong replied “Building and collapsing, collapsed by the builders. It’s architecture, to elevate, then humbled by the collapse. I always feel like whenever I think I’ve grown in some way, I have to start from the ground up again.” (Rebel). Wong's latest solo effort Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads evokes this concept beautifully. Songs evolve, deconstruct and eventually mutate into forms that fluidly engage elements of their sonic ancestors while simultaneously taking on an identity of their own. 

Considering the manner in which the album continually finds ways to grow it leaves me to conclude that pushing your guitar up a mountain for eternity isn't necessarily anything more than what the album's artwork suggests: being nakedly sprawled on what is either grass or water. And that makes it hard to imagine Sisyphus as anything but happy.