In the past two decades, Tashi Dorji has travelled a long road, recording several dozen albums and touring the world, playing his guitar solo and in collaboration with inspired others. Gifted with a sensitive ear to the clarion call of intuitive artistry, he is forever picking up his instrument and reaching through it to find new sounds. In this, he has distinguished himself among those who listen to improvised music as an incisive, distinctive player of moments.
Drag City told Tashi they’d love for him to make a record for them and he said he’d love to do it. That was the end of the discussion. No parameters. He thought about it a bit, decided to make an acoustic guitar record, then he made it and here it is. Very beautifully recorded, a probing recital in which music, the texture of the instrument and the nature of the space in the moment which it is played are all of equal significance. It’s an astonishing sequence of performances - and when paired with titles like ‘Refusal’, ‘Statues Crumbles, Heroes Fall’, ‘End Of State’ and ‘The Swelling Fruit About To Shatter The Husk Of The Old World’, the music is further informed with elevated vision and purpose.
Like a sculptor, Tashi flecks away at the guitar, percussive strikes discovering the shades of folkish melodies within, while continuously shaping other contours. A resourceful and vigorous use of techniques suggest discourse and discordance. The scraps and ricochets begin to add up, shots to the head, grazing the side, exposing ribs that grin dully red. Yet moments of his bluntest touch yield fluidly to lithe feathering, or pivot to a quiet focus on selected strings, which threatens to rise up before a moment of gentle subsiding. This is improvisation: the songs playing through Tashi, beyond choices or preference. The result only of sitting and playing, no thoughts in that moment. Yet even the shreddiest, pluckiest, out-of-mindest moments feel guided, led by a hand from beyond.
With the gravity of a rock-opera and the delicacy of a suite, ‘Stateless’ measures the miles on the charred highway we’re all presently stalled upon - not going home again, at time on a march for no reason, other moments insensibly in the weeds, rummaging, looking for something.