- Yearning Kru
The Everyman Bistro is around half full with a largely expectant audience. It is all very civilised: some people sit on chairs around long tables, some sit on the floor in front of the performance area. The whole ambience is mellower than a traditional gig venue, the lighting is slightly brighter and there isn’t a stage or raised platform.
YEARNING KRU starts off the evening. Sat behind his table of electronics he creates strange, alien, fractured and warping electronica. The back projections match the sounds perfectly: abstract and sometimes surreal images bleed and melt in and out of focus, all the while ambient soundscapes pitch and turn around us. It is dark and otherworldly; sometimes odd electronic bird calls are punctuated by clanking metallic sounds skittering into misshapen voices. It is an eerie and dissonant scramble of atmospherics, rising and falling choral samples caught in rotating and cascading machinery. It is a challenging listen due to a lack of any structure or narrative, yet it holds some fascination for its abundant artistry and sweep of imagination. It reminds me of Wendy Carlos’s Timesteps from her soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange. Yearning Kru has managed to craft dark and unsettling ambience that demands some work from the listener, and it is worth spending the time to decipher his fearful code.
Next up is headliner DUSTIN WONG. He sits with a guitar on his knee and a row of loop and effects pedals on the floor before him. After a quiet hello and thanks to Yearning Kru for “giving us a trip” he begins. He opens with the reverb-drenched beats of Pink Diamond, using an array of loop and effects pedals to create a sonic collage before us. Constructing the tunes layer-by-layer, he generates an ambient odyssey of sounds, manipulating and warping them, forming a sonic whole.
Wong is a hugely accomplished guitarist with an instinctive understanding of how to build a track of effects-laden guitar loops without it falling into formless and cacophonous disarray. He strums and picks notes that coil and spin out as new loops form, joining their companions on a circling journey, loop upon loop, all with technical and intricate artistry. This is meditative. It sounds organic, naturalistic and matured.
Wong uses touch and playfulness to create space and ambience, building sweeping melodies as we fly through Cityscape Floated and Out Of The Crown Head, so redolent of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. It is mesmerising. During Speeding Feathers Staring Wong loops his vocals and harmonises with himself using his voice as an instrument to layer over the ping-ponging harmonics, adding a shimmering melodic bed and capturing the sound of the audience clapping and whooping, knitting it into the mix, involving them in a most intimate way. It is wonderful and captivating.
The sounds he creates seem to exist outside of his instrument. Sometimes his guitar is used like a percussion vessel, sometimes an Arp synthesizer or a hang drum.
This is an unforgettable performance of immense emotion and beauty, and the audience demand and get an encore.