Agitated Atmosphere: Tashi Dorji - Appa

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
05/29/2015
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Tashi Dorji.

Explaining the guitar stylings of Tashi Dorji has been a formidable but rewarding task since his first blip. His deconstruction of expectation and sound was an impressive barrel roll on an instrument often rooted in particular styles for the impatient ear. Dorji’s work was corrosive, laying waste to convention without wholly abandoning his influences and inspirations.

Yet Appa is the promised fulfillment of all those musique concrete ideas despite being his most accessible (see: traditional) work to date. Much of Appa is steeped in familiar territory for guitar purists: Fahey, Kottke and Harper. But Dorji is also true to himself and his grateful peers: Chasny, Blackshaw and the Bishops.

Quaint, patient plucks (“Floods,” “Murmur”) stand toe to toe with Dorji’s more ferocious and adventurous maneuvers (“Forbidden,” “Errant Sphere”) that poke holes in formality. Though every song provides what some call recognizable melodies, the trip to reach that predictable destination is far from predictable.

Which is why Appa is for fans of ragas and airs, but those who have also seen this scenery often. There are new routes to cut, new contrails to follow. The blips on the radar are sporadic and never follow a predetermined flight path. Appa is the compass for guitar players and aficionados who find getting lost a desirable means of happy discovery.

Justin Spicer is the editor of Cerberus at Tiny Mix Tapes and contributes to outlets such as Ad Hoc and Cuepoint. You can follow him on Twitter.

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