Tashi Dorji & John Dieterich – Midden [Gilgongo/Moone]
[Skip to the second paragraph to avoid the navel gazing] Ah, Deerhoof, so many memories from my high school days. There was the time I reviewed their album Milk Man in the school paper and actually had parents lodge complaints about it (I had to meet with the principal over them!) And there was the first time I listened to a Deerhoof album. I was staying with an out-of-state friend for my 15th birthday celebration and when asked for a gift idea I requested Reveille by a new band I heard about called Deerhoof. My friend and his mom generously granted my wish and eagerly suggested we play the CD on the way to lunch while I politely declined, hoping to avoid judge-y looks during the clatter that would surely emanate from the car stereo. They insisted against my protests, and you know, things were actually okay through the first few tracks but then “No One Fed Me So I Stayed” started blaring on the speakers and the bomb was dropped “Do you actually enjoy listening this music?” It took a little while for the mushroom cloud of atomic-awkwardness to clear and needless to say they didn’t play any more of my CDs in the car. Despite, the rocky first go, I unabashedly dug Reveille and, now listening as an adult in a place of my own, shielded from taunts of the unconverted (ha!), I can say the same about Midden.
I’ve been a fan John Dieterich’s elastic and kinetic guitar fireworks in Deerhoof but had never ventured into his improvisational work and Tashi Dorji is a name that sounds familiar but I’m pretty sure I’d never heard him play. So Midden functions both as an educational course for yours truly and a portrait of slammin’ six-string skronk etched in ethenyl.
Each guitarist takes one channel. My guess is that it’s Dorji on the left and Dieterich on the right. I love the inauspicious beginning as the first side begins with several seconds of near silence before the twin guitars start chiming. Bent notes build quickly to a thick, noisy thrum early on then the duo briefly approaches “regular” guitar jazz and even settles into a delicate moment before later kicking up dust in a Hototogisu-lite shitstorm. And that’s just the first side.
Supposedly, this recording documents the first time Dorji and Dieterich played together, but the two are so in sync with one another that I’m struggling to fathom that this could be true. They have the uncanny ability to ride same the dynamic shifts blow by blow. It’s a seamless journey through peaking levels and tempered valleys.
Throughout Midden, the most notable trait in my mind is that both players inhabit this nether region between dissonance and consonance; there’s no real melody or harmony but there’s the specter of both amid the gristle and grind. It’s difficult to properly describe but this is the kind of out there record that could get the uninitiated into out there records.
If Midden can be this excellent as a first-go, the possibilities are scary if these guys started playing together regularly. Could the world even handle it? You know what, fuck what the world can handle. I’m ready so let’s do this. Tashi and John gimme your best shot, blow my mind.
Gilgongo is killing it with this recent trio of LPs, all of which are worth tracking down.