Following up an album of pieces handpicked by Ben Chasney and tours with Sir Richard Bishop seems a daunting task to for a fingerpicked artist, as those both seem like pinnacle moments, but Tashi Dorji comes racing back with another album of singular guitar music for Bathetic only a year later. Appa continues to bend and shape the guitar into an instrument of Dorji's will, pairing virtuosic runs of stringwork with metal-on-filling noise that seems bound by no school of fretwork. But whether he's slinging mellifluous or acerbic tones, Dorji seems driven only by a hot pulse of emotion that feeds his playing. The pieces here are held together by an energy that can be felt from the callouses of his fingers, directed through the conduit of strings and straight into the pineal gland, exploding on impact. Its a raw playing, one that feels unpolished like folk art, but in the same way also vital in its link to the soil. The songs on Appa have a quality that feels slung from a wandering soul, cursed to roam and never be still, and who can only vet his demons on his guitar. That curse, it seems, makes for great listening; shame for him, boon for us.
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