Blue Twelve

by Tashi Dorji




Tashi Dorji - Solo Guitar

Recorded by Michael Flanagan at the Lipinsky Studio, Asheville NC
October 2013


released April 29, 2014

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.
-Tiny Mix Tapes

A guitar that sounds like razor blades dragged across the face of impending doom. A guitar that sounds like Godzilla crashing an orchestral performance set in a warehouse stocked with pessimism and confidence. A guitar that sounds like a tree being felled by a fighter jet’s depression.
All in all, Tashi Dorji‘s Blue Twelve can only be summed up by actually listening to it. The beauty of the album lies in it’s desire to evoke fantastical melodies that avoid the expectations of normal guitar sounds.

Blue Twelve is the first electric guitar release by Tashi Dorji, whose acoustic recordings have gained praise from guitar avatars such as Sir Richard Bishop and Ben Chasny. While his approach is easily transferable from acoustic to electric, the decision to plug in has enriched his playing with depths of tone and dynamic possibility- all down to corona of reverb from his Fender Delux amp and overtones it sustains from hammering of harmonic intervals. Although slight effects,they furnish rich seams of enquiry for the North Carolina based guitarist`s crabwise improvisations.
...from punk rock to Baroque via Flamenco and Jazz. This synthesis reaches its apex on this tape, with two side-long improvisations that are as genre negating and sound - as- sound focused as anyone looking at the guitar after Derek Bailey. The opening piece begins with sustained chords ghosting in and out of focus through tightly controlled volume swells, creating an effect close to gamelan. It eventually decelerates into carousel arpeggios that sound momentarily like the intro to the existential doo-woop of The Ink Spots` "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)
-Alex Neilson, The Wire

Tashi Dorji is an Asheville, NC-based guitarist who crafts gorgeously unsettling guitar improvisiations. Until recently Dorji performed exclusively on an acoustic guitar—drawing from the idioms of American Primitivism and Free Improvisation as pioneered by Derek Bailey. Blue Twelve is his first release on the British boutique label, Blue Tapes, and his first to feature electric guitar. The transition is subtle, as his guitar playing remains highly textured and puncutated with strange and sinister resonances. But the shift to electric guitar allows him to fade in and out the amplification, often leaving us to hear the faint sounds of the strings shimmering acoustically.
- AdHoc

Like his previous releases, Blue Twelve sounds like an alien landscape, full of clanging metal and vaguely familiar yet uncomfortable melodies. Dorji bends his steel strings to the point of breaking before rolling it back, settling down, and starting all over.
- FACT Magazine



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