“The great quality of true art is that it rediscovers, grasps and reveals
to us that reality far from where we live, from which we get farther
and farther away as the conventional knowledge we substitute for it
becomes thicker and more impermeable.”
– Marcel Proust
To avoid the inevitable dulling of senses and imagination that comes with languishing in the tedium of habit we must arm ourselves with subversive art. Familiarity wraps our perception in a shroud of insular complacency, and by binding ourselves to a very limited pool of influence we diminish our ability to live happy, appreciative lives. Artists use their medium to acknowledge and glorify the everyday experiences of being human, thus restoring the childlike wonderment that habit diminishes.
Tashi Dorji’s latest LP, Appa, accomplishes this and so much more. The Bhutan-by-way-of-North Carolina musician creates improvisatory vignettes on acoustic guitar that defy musical expectations and breathe new life into an instrument that is over 150 years old. Influenced by the work of solo-guitar luminaries such as John Fahey and Richard Bishop, Dorji also incorporates an acute understanding of free improvisation and non-western melodicism into his playing. Each constituent fragment of melodic or rhythmic material manifests itself only briefly before evaporating into the atmospheric mist in order to make way for a new, improvised instrumental insight. Like a mandala made of sand, each of Dorji’s pieces revel in the beauty that exists in the transitory and impermanent. His ability to enshrine the ephemeral joys and sorrows of life into instrumental guitar music inspires an appreciation for the here and now that most music eschews in favor of shameless self-obsession.