Punishing improvising duo Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon traffics in pure sound | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Punishing improvising duo Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon traffics in pure sound 

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click to enlarge Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon

Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon

Rob Galo

Over the last few years, guitarist Tashi Dorji (from Asheville, North Carolina) and drummer Tyler Damon (from Bloomington, Indiana) have forged an increasingly solid bond. They create harrowing improvisational duets that snarl and swagger like the most vicious storms, ebbing and flowing with passages of mayhem and temporary calm. After years of developing an appealingly jagged free-improvisation practice on acoustic guitar (something he still purveys) Dorji’s been refashioning his attack on electric, magnifying humid resonance, tangled harmonies, and viscous overtones within a rich, punishing world of sound. Damon, who’s recently been playing drums in Circuit des Yeux, doesn’t downplay his rock roots in his machine-gun sallies with Dorji, but he carefully modulates his approach to maintain meaningful interactions—and he can dispense with fixed patterns at the drop of a hat. Last year the duo revealed its adaptability on To the Animal Kingdom (Trost), a lacerating live recording from a 2016 tour with the Danish saxophonist Mette Rasmussen. Not only do the reedist’s striated, razor-sharp improvisations cut through the din like butter, her slashing, protean playing seems to inspire her partners toward even greater extremes. Last month Dorji and Damon dropped Leave No Trace: Live in St. Louis (Family Vineyard), their most varied, dynamic duo recording yet. As usual, the music surges and recedes in thrilling fashion, yet beyond the explosions and decay lies stunning detail, such as the subtly shifting tom rolls of Damon or the altering tonal gradations in Dorji’s numbing chords and barbed single-note runs.   v


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