Dustin Wong “Internal Hot Spring”

Dustin Wong is a visionary. For years he’s made music that has not only continually surprised me, but so often moves me in ways that send me on beautiful, magical journeys. I was first really aware of his work with the underrated Ponytail; his guitar shredding and ESP-like partnership with Ken Seeno really pushed that band to wild places. But really, within the breadth of his expression, those raucous, fun riffs are a small part. He knows how to create worlds out of thin air and Internal Hot Spring is a fully immersive trip.

Wong creates the feeling of floating through bright blue water, surrounded by neon shapes on the dreamy “Assorted Jellies at Pink Pond.” The title alone gives of vivid imagery, but through simple rhythmic progressions and densely layered, airy synths and pitch-shifted vocals you find yourself lost and relaxed in an alien environment. He reconfigures those elements into a soft embrace on “Sirens Guide to Hot Springs,” lackadaisically floating through time and space as if it were nothing more significant than the drive-thru at In N Out. It’s such a weird dichotomy throughout Internal Hot Spring, to find yourself completed enmeshed in this sonic experience that tugs at each and every heart string while at the same time being so mellow and at-ease that you’re almost fooled into thinking you are simply passing the day away. Dustin Wong is flexing those sorcery muscles to get you where you need to be.

Throughout Internal Hot Spring is a sense of tapping into a divine force where it’s inner harmony isn’t just possible, it’s expected and damn fun to find. Lively and playful, “Inward Outward Skyward” bops in futuristic shine, Wong’s disembodied voice floating about the dancing electronics like an angelic conductor guiding each chord change and each arpeggio into the ultraviolet zone. Synthetic water drips in unison, again accompanied by Wong’s wordless singing – the true siren throughout Internal Hot Spring – as “Mirror Man Ryokan” opens the doors to this experience. From the first note, I am smitten with the aural palette and awash with boundless joy.

Dotted with infinite details and held aloft like a sacred collection of sound, Internal Hot Spring takes Dustin Wong’s seemingly endless well of ideas into new places. The title may suggest inner peace, but there is so much here that fosters connection and cosmic embrace. Each time I hit play, I look forward to losing myself in this better, brighter world. Internal Hot Spring is a stunning piece of work.