I promise not to spend this entire review extolling Luke Stewart’s genius, but looking back on 2020 he was involved in so many of my favorite records (and his double LP on Astral Spirits is an all-timer) it’s kind of ridiculous. But hell, Tashi Dorji is right there too. His sound is always unmistakably his and when you hear his work, it’s instantly recognizable. The two of them teaming up on a longform guitar and bass, duel split over three parts, is one hell of a surprise.
Opening up with some low end creep where Stewart creates a flowing stream of murk and Dorji rattles the chains of his guitar on top like a carrot on a stick. Sputtering along, spewing out aural shards left and right, the piece evolves slowly until the racket dissolves into a metallic memory hole. Music this ugly bleeds catharsis and I am drinking it up. “Phases II” continues the slow blitz into another level of bleakness. Stewart plods rhythms on electric bass, finding an unholy bounce that serves as a heart-pounding metronome in the dark. Looping into dust, it absolutely crawls all over your skin. It’s impossible to see more than a few feet in front of you so the only thing you know about the destination is that it’s not somewhere you want to be.
Scratching and clawing their way through the last 17 minutes, the duo’s interplay borders on caustic. They push each other further off the rails, claws dragging enough sonic dirt underneath their fingernails that it’s gonna stay there forever. Dorji turns his guitar into a distorted open maw, growling as a warning never to come back. It’s not an album I want to listen to on repeat; it’s too difficult for that. But I like music that makes me feel uncomfortable and this answers the call. if you put these two together again, I’ll be first in line.