After the breakup of indie experimental outfit Ponytail in 2012, guitarist Dustin Wong left his hometown of Baltimore for Tokyo, where he met celebrated Shibuya-kei musician Takako Minekawa, with whom he collaborated on a brand of alien-sounding electronic noise pop. On Are Euphoria, the duo's third LP, Wong and Minekawa sound comfortable with each other, exploring aural avenues that still manage to surprise, even when they tread familiar ground.
Over seven tracks and 47 minutes, the duo explore specific sounds wholesale, blending American funk ("7000000000 Human Elements"), moody freak-folk, ("Zaaab"), Japanese synth-pop ("Akubi") and Taiko meditations ("Elastic Astral Peel"). At times, Wong and Minekawa manage to take their compositions into more exploratory places than ever here while never letting a rhythm gestate too long, as Takako pulls wordless vocals through stretches while crescendos build and disappear freely.
Despite qualifying as a fusion album, there are so many conflicting ideas, sounds and movements here, Are Euphoria can sometimes come across unfocused, even when the duo lock themselves into a long, meandering groove. It's an album that sometimes benefits from its wealth of ideas but often finds itself trying to find its way back to a central one. (Thrill Jockey)