Michael Zerang / Tashi Dorji - Sciamachy

 LP Edition of 500.


At last, the trade edition of Schiamachy has appeared, following the test-press/tour version by more than a couple of months. 

The album’s title is a term used to describe mock battles between warriors. It’s a fair description of the music on this record, although it’s safe to say the battle was a friendly one. Michael Zerang is a very well known percussionist, composer & improviser from Chicago, with an amazing jazz-based discography. He previously appeared on the Illinois Glossolalia LP (FTR 285) playing with Spires That in the Sunset Rise. Asheville-based guitarist Tashi Dorji is a generation younger than Zerang, but has been an unstoppable force since he hit the scene in 2009, playing in all manner of rock and improv situations. He has appeared on four other Feeding Tube releases, most often with his free form power duo, Manas. It’s also worth mentioning that both musicians are nice guys.

But even nice guys can get a thrilling mock battle raging, and Schiamachy  is surely one for the books.

Recorded at Chicago venue, The Hideout, in August 2016, the music ranges from splotchy plucking in the British plink-plonk tradition to something more akin to sophisticated post-rock noise explorations. I kept expecting passages to emerge styled more in the vein of the free-fusion ecstasies explored by McLaughlin withTony Williams, or what Bishop, Chasny and Corsano do with Rangda, but Michael and Tashi always opted to keep their battle plans more smudged and confounding. The music is not about edges and momentum, it’s about textures and collaging. 

Zerang stays away from any sort of standard set-up here, choosing instead to play an instrument he calls “Queequeg’s Coffin.”  He describes this as “a large hurdy-gurdy like instrument where 4 cello strings are bowed simultaneously with a friction wheel that is hand-cranked.” It looks as wild as it sounds, creating vast fields of whizzing and ringing, while the guitar strings and knobs wrench and wobble and throb. 

The sounds on Schiamacy are all about unexpected interactions and the pleasure of new discoveries. The deeper you let these sounds into your head, the farther they’ll transport you. Be not a moldy fig, embrace the unknown.

-Byron Coley, 2023 

Dusted Magazine Review by Bill Meyer