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Tashi Dorji

All Ages
Sunday, July 23
Doors: 6pm Show: 7pm
$12 to $15

Beyond the principle of “first thought, best thought” comes no thought at all. This is the source of improvising guitarist Tashi Dorji’s playing: the realm of pure instinct, a zone of unpremeditated action in which the fingers outpace the brain. “I generally have a theme or form or simple idea and I work from there,” he told The Wire. But that foundation, he said, “changes the moment I start playing.” When Dorji picks up a guitar, it can sometimes feel like everything and nothing is happening at once: A player in the questing, occasionally contrarian mold of guitarists like Derek Bailey and Bill Orcutt, the Bhutanese musician is capable of spiky intensity and lyrical finesse, and the two moods frequently slip back and forth without warning. Any given note might be a trapdoor to the inverse of what has immediately preceded it. Melodies flash out and disintegrate in the space of a few plucks; patterns repeat until they don’t, and everything in the rearview turns to rubble. Dorji’s pursuit of the melodic line resembles a maze-like garden of forking paths, each choice oscillating between possibility and negation. “Improvisation as a practice is always shifting, becoming and disappearing,” he recently wrote. Stateless, his first album for Drag City—his highest-profile release in an 11-year discography that numbers dozens of albums, tapes, collaborations, live recordings, and digital releases—is a fractal firehose of these transformative moments, in which nascence turns to oblivion and vice versa, over and over again.

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