Published Nov 13, 2015Bhutanese guitarist Tashi Dorji has been searching for new ways of squeezing abstract tones from his instrument since first laying ears on the likes of Derek Bailey and other free improvisers. Originally an acoustic player, he has since dipped his fingers in electricity, widening his tonal range and spewing flames in the process. Now based in North Carolina, Manas is his duo project with drummer Thom Nguyen, who has been involved in a few free-rock outfits in the area. The electric guitar-drums combination is a template for greatness, especially with a pair of tornado-conjuring players such as these fine gentlemen.
Dorji, whose playing is decidedly "normal" sounding on the duo's self-titled debut LP (in comparison to his Bailey-like acoustic workouts), takes a variety of directions aided and abetted by Nguyen's energetic skin pounding. There is layering and a few moments of slow-burning tension, but most of the exciting moments arise when the players plough full steam ahead in a seemingly hydra-headed fashion. Those who enjoy unbridled freedom and energy in their music should certainly take note of these two rising stars. (Feeding Tube)