‘Nite Creatures’: Joe Wong’s Cinematic Debut Album
Nite Creatures is the first solo album by multi-instrumentalist, podcast host (The Trap Set), and composer Joe Wong, and the result is a collection of very cinematic and brilliant compositions. Joe Wong is a film & TV composer (Master of None, Russian Doll, Ugly Delicious, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens & more) and it shows, the 10 songs sprawl like fully orchestrated mini-movies, looking for inspiration in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and contemporary indie rock.
There’s a warm embrace in the opening song, ‘Dreams Wash Away,’ with its catchy chorus and deep layers of back-up vocals. The emotional track shares the same fiery grandiosity than the work of The Flaming Lips, while the vintage pop ‘Sleeping’ goes high on strings with traces of the Summer of Love, and the launch of the Seventies.
‘Day After Day’ has a baroque indie-rock vibe, with poetic and evocative lyrics ‘Fatherless father/coated in slumber/Liquified mother/swimming in amber,’ while the ‘70s Laurel Canyon tone of the expansive titled track ‘Nite Creatures’ bursts with joyful horns like a new composition of the Polyphonic Spree. It’s a gorgeous acid-tinted trip than makes you walk among ghosts (‘The nite creatures wander past you’) while you can feel soft beach waves in the background. There are echoes of a harpsichord, while ‘Always Alone’ moves into krautrock psychedelia working like an update on Ravi-Shankar-Beatles chaos.
Joe Wong’s lush soundscapes are emotional symphonies – a 16-member string section, with members of the L.A. Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, are featured on the album; they are kaleidoscopic romantic visions reminiscent of the golden age of pop while his lyrics are deeply personal. The album was written in the years between his father suffering a stroke in 2010 and his death in 2019. ‘It’s basically about losing someone slowly,’ says Wong to the Brooklyn Vegan, ‘It has a lot to do with losing elements of his personality, piece by piece. The album’s about loss, but it’s about coming to terms with it and not being afraid of it. The final loss was a relief and lots of it is kind of like my way of telling him it’s OK to go.’
The shimmering pop song ‘In The Morning’ exults colorful psychedelia, the delicate ‘Minor’ ends into a loud sonic explosion while the triumphant trumpets and sumptuous layers of ‘Nuclear Rainbow,’ actually reveal an existential dread, not unlike the kind running rampant at this particular moment in our history, ‘Nuclear rainbow throws shadows of dread/over the kingdom of comfort/Billions of people who haven’t died yet searching for permanent shelter.’
‘Nite Creatures,’ produced by indie-rock lifer Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, Ex Hex, Wild Flag), is an emotional widescreen journey with dense cinematic details and memorable melodies brushing joy and melancholia featuring an impressive core ensemble: Wong is on vocals, drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards, Mary Timony is on lead guitar and backing vocals, while the album also features harpist Mary Lattimore (who recently garnered an avalanche of critical acclaim for the spectral minimalism of her 2018 solo album, ‘Hundreds of Days’), Flaming Lips’ multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd, War on Drugs’ Jon Natchez, Shudder to Think’s Craig Wedren, That Dog.’s Anna Waronker, not to mention a 24-piece orchestra. The album was recorded at the secluded Gatos Trail Recording Studio in Joshua Tree, California, and mixed by famed, depth-scouring Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann.
JOE WONG‘s new debut album will be out on September 18th via Decca Records.
‘NITE CREATURES’ TRACKLIST:
01 – Dreams Wash Away
02 – Sleeping
03 – Day After Day
04 – Nite Creatures
05 – Always Alone
06 – In the Morning
07 – Minor
08 – Nuclear Rainbow
09 – The Long Parade
10 – Shadow of the Year