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Dustin Wong, Takako Minekawa, and Good Willsmith's New Album Is Pure Bliss

'Exit Future Heart' is a swirling ambient dream born from improvised sessions at Good Willsmith's Chicago home over the course of one night.
Photo courtesy of the artists.

The beauty of making mostly improvised music is that you can always make the most of a moment. You fill in gaps, you push sounds in new directions, you cause chaos that the players around you have to scramble to respond to. There's some practical benefits to working in such malleable forms too, like, if some pals you've always been wanting to play with happen to rolling through town, you can make the most of a night, turn an impromptu hang into a collection of exploratory jams. This is exactly the situation that birthed Exit Future Heart, the new collaborative record by the Tokyo-based duo of Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa and the Chicago trio Good Willsmith, recorded live at home in Chicago in one night while Wong and Minekawa were on tour.


Composed of the multi-instrumentalists Natalie Chami, Doug Kaplan, and Maxwell Allison, Good Willsmith have spent the last few years churning out abstract compositions for guitar, electronics, and voice, relying on their compositional chemistry to turn formless melodies into something resembling structure. It's sorta like stretching a cloud through a cookie cutter; from unfamiliar materials they end up with recognizable shapes. As Kaplan put it to me a couple of years ago, "We like things that are loose."

Given the years of accumulation of unspoken communication, that might seem like a difficult situation to insert yourself into, but Wong and Minekawa—themselves frequent espousers of the powers of improvisation—find plenty of space on Exit Future Heart to add color to the canvas. Their collaborative work has often been this radiant and euphoric thing, and though this record is comparatively a little more twisted, there's still a lot of joy to be found here too.

Chittering electronics trace bioluminescent streaks across blank space. Chami and Minekawa twist droney synth lines and abstract vocalizations around one another in playful knots, like they're stitching each others shoelaces together. Kaplan and Wong trade guitar duties, occasionally ripping these searching, buoyant lead lines that make sense once you realize Kaplan is an admin of a Facebook group named after a Phish song. Allison caps the whole thing off with the electro-collagist approach with which he approaches his solo work as Mukqs. All that said, the above implies that there's easily defined delineation of what sounds are coming from where and from whom, the true bliss of this is that it kinda feels like its coming from everywhere all at once. It's the sound of ecstatic overload, condensed into six relatively short pieces.

Exit Future Heart is out on LP next Friday, May 11, on the ever-reliable Umor Rex—seriously go to their Bandcamp page and listen to everything—but you can listen to it in full right here, right now. Which you should.