Savage Imagination, by Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa

Sometimes there’s nothing better than listening to a familiar song, artist, or particular instrumentation. Other times, however, one’s ears want to be surprised. Savage Imagination, the second album by Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa, provides that sort of experience.

The beginning 30 seconds of the album’s first single “She He Feel See” brings to mind a lost single The Chipmunks might have recorded in the mid-’80s using a small-sized Casio keyboard. But the longer the electronic drum beats, synthesizers, guitar licks, and soprano vocals loop together, the more appealing the at-first incongruous combination becomes. By the time the song slips out of its back-and-forth modal chord structure to what might be called the intermediary bridge portion, I was wholeheartedly intrigued. A minute later, as Wong’s guitar established a new progression more reflective of the surf music he enjoyed growing up in Hawaii, and Minekawa layered a simple, repetitive line over that, I was hooked. When the song abortively ended 3 minutes later, the remaining silence felt stunning.

Wong is best known for his guitar work with Ponytail, while Minekawa gained fame in the ’90s on the Shibuya-kei scene. In 2013, the two collaborated for the first time on Tropical Circle.

On Savage Imagination, Minekawa employs Japanese puns to sings about human consciousness, quantum physics, and flying above a desert. All of which seem like ideal subject matter to juxtapose with their music.

(Originally appeared in the Valley Advocate.)

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