Tashi Dorji
Blue Twelve [12-inch; Blue Tapes / X-Ray Records]

Conventional understandings of the limitations of the classic guitar setup have long since been rendered meaningless by a bevy of players ill-satisfied with the sound of a standard strum. But in the case of Tashi Dorji, who is certainly among the experimental elite, the aim seems to be to refigure those tired techniques into a new dialect of musical composition. Unlike someone like Hubble’s Ben Greenberg, who wants to divorce the artifact’s inherent acoustics from itself, transcending the Platonic form of the instrument, Dorji uses the textures we all already know are there to his advantage. That is, so much of what we hear on Blue Twelve just plain sounds like a guitar — plucked strings lifted from the sound table of a six-stringed block of wood and an amplifier. However, that guitar, and Dorji as the voice behind the object, is speaking an entirely different language to us. Some of it has to do with the musical theory behind what’s going on, bouncing around scales like Schoenberg schooling Derek Bailey on the oddball tonalities that flit their way across these manic improvisations. But with the added element of volume control, warbling tremolos, and the eye-popping gymnastics Dorji flexes around the fret board, the playing produces some of the most alien music from some of the most familiar sounds that I’ve ever come across. Much of it is torrential, aggressive, sharp — but not all; Dorji’s electric tone, unencumbered by outside effects, is uniformly rounded with smooth, clean contours that allow for the aggressive pin-pricking guitar plucks to cut through with the intimidating confidence of an opera soprano. Headphones is an absolute must here to pick up all of the nuances, especially when the volume knob is cranked left, leaving only the wire strings themselves to carry the music forward (which amazingly, they do). Absolutely one of the best vinyl releases of the year, and an incredible debut for Blue Tapes’ transition/addition of this newly-minted X-Ray Records sect.


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