Music, Went There

Tashi Dorji @ Machines With Magnets


This set was absolutely defined by blistering fretworks from one who must certainly be among the most imaginative guitarists working today.

Tashi Dorji was among a bill with no less than five artists on the lineup, among them experimental DJs, DnB sculptors, and local up-and-coming artists from the noise/experimental scene. The setting was a fantastic little space owned and operated by Machines With Magnets, a recording studio set up in an old mill in Pawtucket.

Dorji’s set was brief but captivating. Using a small array of electronics to augment the semi-hollow body guitar that he strummed, he playing began quietly, sort of riffing on a raga style drone and building on that. Establishing themes and motifs, Dorji would often incorporate a delay into the signal that resulted in the effect or illusion of positioning all of the notes suspended in air, only to chase after them with frenetically quick fingerwork.

I spoke with Tashi for a few moments before and after his set. The gentleman musician, he was cool and relaxed beforehand, discussing the down-home atmosphere of the studio space, and even suggesting the best parking in the area (though the North Carolinan from Bhutan probably wasn’t the most familiar with the Pawtucket neighborhood, and was likely being friendly).

Afterwards, I posed a few questions in regard to the style with which he’d approached his playing. I questioned whether the seamless set was influenced by or an excerpt of his earlier albums from 2012, but I was astounded to hear that the notes he played were constructed on the spot, though there was a certain theme and flow throughout – a bit of classical here, some speedy jazz here, an outright crash of noise there. “Sure,” he remarked with a chuckle, “I can play, like, Charlie Parker.” It was a bit self-effacing, but to actually behold Tashi Dorji’s playing in a live setting is a unique and thrilling prospect, one which I’m looking forward to experiencing again, and soon.

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