Tarotplane’s soft psychedelia might drive you quietly out of your mind

Ask PJ Dorsey — the Baltimore guitarist who works under the name Tarotplane — about what draws him toward the greater psychedelic soundscape, and you’ll feel as grateful for his presence of mind as the answer he drops.

“Some music just feels too literal,” Dorsey says. “I’ve always been interested in abstraction, in travel, in mental travel. I have a really strange memory. It’s hard to explain, but, for example, I don’t remember what my junior high school looks like. … It’s like I wasn’t there because I was always in my head. Music has always taken me on a journey, it’s always taking me somewhere else. So I’m never really here.”

Having first learned how to step outside of his brain after encountering the music of Pink Floyd at age 8, Dorsey says he’s been scouring record stores for similar escape hatches ever since. He found them in psych-rock, German kosmische, shoegaze, ambient techno and, roughly 10 years ago, through the gently psychedelic instrumentals he began recording as Tarotplane. It created something of a riddle, though. How do you make music that removes you from your life when you’re spending your life making it?

With today’s home recording technology, “the ability to take yourself out of the music becomes greater and greater,” Dorsey says. “When I hear imperfection, I eliminate it. Any of the guitar work you hear on my records is me taking five or six runs through a jam, and then I’ll take the best pieces and really treat them. It’s a very [Brian] Eno-esque way of doing things. … If you’re going to record something, it’s worth looking at [sound] as a raw material to work with, rather than, ‘I just did this.’”

The stage generates another riddle, though. He’s obviously up there doing something physical, linear, temporal and real, right? Dorsey says he considers his studio practice and his live performances two distinct things, and while he’s always trying to get out of his own head, he wants to honor their differences: “If I were to sell my stuff after a gig and someone told me, ‘I love what you just did. … Which record would you recommend?’ I want to be able to say, ‘Hmm, maybe none of them!’”

In other words, you have to be there. Dorsey might be there, too. But if everything’s going right, hopefully not.

Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rhizome, 6950 Maple St. NW. rhizomedc.org. $10-$15.

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