Sergio Ch. Premieres “La Heroina” Video; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Since he has a new solo album currently being mastered — the title will reportedly by From Skulls Born Beyond — it’s tempting to think of Sergio Ch.‘s — né Chotsourian — new video for “La Heroina” perhaps as a way of saying goodbye to 2016’s Aurora (review here), but the truth is that even after that record came out, he was still putting together clips for 2015’s 1974 (review here), so it’s not exactly like he’s following an album cycle-style promotional model. More like he’s doing whatever the hell he wants, which is probably how it should be for the former Los Natas frontman who’s also at the helm of South American Sludge Records and who fronts Soldati and the somewhat-MIA Ararat. His whims have a pretty good track record, as far as that kind of thing goes.

And while From Skulls Born Beyond promises further refinement of his drone-laced folk approach, “La Heroina” serves as an example of how well that worked across Aurora as well. It’s at least the fourth video that the Buenos Aires-based Chotsourian has issued for the six-song offering, and with direction from Milagros Arrom, it’s a returning partnership that once again serves to highlight the track’s experimentalist and, in this case, particularly trance-inducing edge. Centered around echoing strums of acoustic guitar, there’s nonetheless a psychedelic feel gleaned from the effects on the vocals and the intermittent bursts of harmonica, and the naturalist swirl evokes acid folk atmospherics without any lysergic posturing. It’s not the most experimentalist piece on Aurora — that would be “Aurora II,” still awaiting its video last I checked — but it finds a balance between traditional songcraft and an out-there anti-structure that suits it well, throwing kind of a loop in the second half when all of a sudden it just kind of starts over. Pay attention and it’ll still catch you off guard.

Soldati were slated to have an album in progress as well, and they may indeed have one in the works or done, but it’s good news that a new Sergio Ch. offering will be out before 2019’s done as well, as his solo material has proven to be an exploration all its own, distinct from his work in full bands despite inherent ties in songwriting and performance.

Enjoy “La Heroina” below:

Sergio Ch., “La Heroina” official video premiere

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “AURORA”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR MILAGROS ARROM

PIRAMIDE RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

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Manthrass Premiere “Como un Volcan”; Mapa Estelar Due in March

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

manthrass

Buenos Aires-based heavy rock trio Manthrass are gearing up to release their second album, Mapa Estelar, in March via Buscando Records and Kenai Records. Whether it’s the deep-toned fuzzy rollout of the opening title-track or the classic-minded heavy blues start-stop swing of the leadoff single “Paso Firme” that follows, it does not take long for the Argentine three-piece to distinguish their sophomore outing from its predecessor, 2015’s Blues del Destino (review here). To be sure, as cuts like “El Luchador” punch home their forward-minded riffing and the post-Clutch groove of “Seguir es Ganar” lands itself in a dudely sing-along chorus of “ooh”s, there’s still plenty of burl shared from the first record to this follow-up, but the level of presentation has shifted entirely, and where Blues del Destino had a rawer bite to the guitar tone of Mariano Castiglioni and Ángel Rex Rizzo‘s bass and the vocals — duties shared between them with backing from drummer Federico Martinez — cut through dry and less assured, Mapa Estelar engages a smoother approach all around, and Manthrass sound confident in their craft and righteous in their execution as a result.

To record Mapa Estelar, the band returned to producer Damián Colaprette, and that consistency is important, since it signals a directness of intention in terms of their growth — i.e., it’s not just that they had somebody different helm their record. They didn’t. Granted, Mapa Estelar was tracked at a different studio than its predecessor, but with the level manthrass como un volcanof progression from the prior batch of songs to the smoothness of the balance in “El Ermitaño,” where Rizzo‘s basslines come through so crisply and excellently balanced in bolstering Castiglioni‘s guitar leads as Martinez rolls the track along with rhythmic fluidity, the development very obviously isn’t limited to presentation. Manthrass have grown as songwriters as well. And to be sure, while Mapa Estelar has a smoother, more cohesive feel on the whole, there’s no corresponding lack of impact to the material, as the Megadeth-meets-Sabbath verse-chorus transition in “Como un Volcan” shows in answering the initial push of the opener, Manthrass brazenly adapting the trappings of heavy metal to their own contextual purposes, and in just four minutes, affirming the identity the debut began to craft as an idea based around sonic growth, a pervasive lack of pretense and a penchant for hooks that come through regardless of any language barrier that may or may not exist for a given listener. That is to say, ignorant as I am, I don’t speak more than the faintest hint of Spanish, and I still have these songs stuck in my head.

Naturally, this is to Manthrass‘ credit entirely, but neither is Mapa Estelar necessarily limited to a single take in terms of style. The bluesier fare of “Seguir es Ganar” and “Paso Firme” is met head-on by the more rocking push of the uptempo “El Ermitaño” and the seven-minute jamming instrumental centerpiece “La Eterna Lucha del Gris y el Verde,” and the expansion continues late with the penultimate acoustic interlude “Bei Tempi,” which is under a minute long in the tradition of a quick Iommic bit of finger but still showcases a drive toward adapting more diversity of sound and bringing a sense of full-album flow to Mapa Estelar rather than simply presenting it as a collection of tracks. That difference is perhaps the defining factor of Manthrass‘ second long-player, but it’s no less crucial to underscore the lack of self-indulgence in their work overall. There’s nothing showy about Mapa Estelar on a performance level, and all the band seems to ask of their audience is that occasionally the nod turn into a headbang along the way, which given the energetic charge they put in from “Mapa Estelar” to the raucous-but-still-controlled finisher “Lejos” is by no means a chore. Beyond that, CastiglioniRizzo and Martinez seem bent on having a good time and grooving out as they make established classic tenets their own, and the quality of their output in so doing makes listening to Mapa Estelar an infectious pleasure in the front-to-back listening experience. The first record had potential, this one confirms it.

Take a listen to the premiere of “Como un Volcan” below. Mapa Estelar is due out this March on Buscando Records and Kenai Records. Quote from Castiglioni, album info and links follow.

Please enjoy:

Mariano Castiglioni on “Como un Volcan”:

I wrote the lyrics for “Como un Volcan,” and when Angel was recording voices he also add some sentences. To us “Como un Volcan” means that strength that we feel in the creative process, that inner force that everybody feels. The riff is mine also, reminds me something between Slayer and Howlin’ Wolf — heavy blues, man!

The time at [Zar Estudio] was amazing. The studio looks like a small cave in the north of Buenos Aires, but at the same time was very stressing, at least for me. The difference with Blues del Destino is basically the production, the songs, the time. We work with a drum DR this time. I recorded with five different guitars, and Damian Colaprette was there all the time with us.

“Como un Volcan” is a good song to represent the album, we are proud of it, for me sounds a little bit a NWOBHM — I love that era — with our touch, of course.

MANTHRASS – Como un Volcan (SINGLE)
From “MAPA ESTELAR”
New album (2018)

MARIANO CASTIGLIONI, guitar and vocals
ÁNGEL RIZZO, bass and vocals
FEDERICO MARTÍNEZ, drums and backing vocals

Recorded, mixed and mastered by DAMIÁN COLAPRETTE at ZAR ESTUDIO
Artwork by MARIANO CASTIGLIONI
Design by Agustin Croxatto
Produced by DAMIÁN COLAPRETTE

BUSCANDO RECORDS

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Manthrass on Instagram

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “El Herrero” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

By my count, this is the third video Sergio Chotsourian has produced from his 2016 sophomore solo release, Aurora (review here). Released through his own South American Sludge Records under his Sergio Ch. moniker, it was an offering marked by its two consuming, extended and experimentalist title-pieces — “Aurora” (18:54) and “Aurora II” (15:16) — and despite any perceived budget and attention span constraints together, indeed one of the clips the Buenos Aires-based former Los Natas and current Soldati frontman was for “Aurora” (posted here), if a shortened version, while the other was for the more folkish “El Laúd” (posted here). Over the course of the last year, Chotsourian has also offered visuals for “La Historia de Hanuman” (posted here) from his 2015 solo debut, 1974 (review here) and for a raw, demo-style take on new song “El Latigo y las Riendas” (posted here), as well as for Soldati‘s “El Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (premiered here).

Clearly the lesson of all this as Chotsourian embarks on the clip for “El Herrero,” which follows “Aurora” on the album and is distinguished through its light-touch percussion and interplay of pulled notes and strumming guitar, is that showing is as much a part of his approach as telling. So be it. The title “El Herrero” translates to “the blacksmith,” and accordingly, the video brings a wealth of atmospherically-shot metallurgical works — infrastructure, gears, the things that make life go. One doesn’t have to look far to find the metaphor underlying, but given the folky context of the song, neither could one accuse the clip of overstating its case. Like “El Herrero” itself, it makes its point in fluid, human fashion, and moves on. There isn’t ultimately much more that would need to be said than it says.

Soldati have a new 7″ in the works (announced here) that I’m hoping to review sooner or later, or at least before the end of 2017, but the last few years have found Chotsourian increasingly restless on a creative level and exploring multiple avenues/outlets for that restlessness, from collaborative one-off sessions to his still-developing solo output, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve for the next couple months as well.

Until whatever might follow, you can check out “El Herrero” and the full stream of Aurora below, and I hope you enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “AURORA”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR JUAN CRUZ TOMMASI Y LUCAS MARTINEZ

PIRAMIDE RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Bandcamp

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Sergio Ch., Aurora: Impressions of Light

Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio-ch-aurora

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to not think of Sergio Chotsourian as a kind of figurehead representative of South American heavy. From his work over the course of two decades in Los Natas and Ararat to the just-getting-started Soldati, as well as his Sergio Ch. solo offerings, other offshoot projects and collaborations, and the continuing impact he’s had on artists around him with his label, South American Sludge Records, the Buenos Aires native has positioned himself at the fore of a crucial and vibrant underground through both his own creative output and his commitment to helping promote others in Argentina and the surrounding nations. As the label has come into focus over the last several years and stood behind an increasing number of releases, Chotsourian‘s craft seems to have become all the more prolific for having the reliable outlet.

In 2015, he made his Sergio Ch. solo debut with 1974 (review here), and Aurora follows that album and Soldati‘s first demo (discussed here) as a late-2016-issue sophomore outing on South American Sludge and Pirámide Records. Like its predecessor, Aurora finds a basis in demos that were posted online circa 2013 — for the title-track, which opens, and “El Herrero,” which immediately follows — but these have been rerecorded and mixed by Chotsourian (who also did the cover art) at his own Death Studios, built upon within themselves and added to other pieces to result in a six-song/53-minute full-length that’s still in no small part defined by its opener, which is presented this time around in two component pieces, each one starting a half of the album.

Granted, some of that defining aspect of “Aurora” and “Aurora II” might be due the fact that they are 19 and 15 minutes long, respectively. One is reminded of Ararat‘s 2012 album II (review here), which made use of the extended “Caballos” and “La Ira del Dragon (Uno)” to make such an impression with shorter inclusions surrounding. But the vision on Aurora is clearer in its structural intent and the aesthetic different, with Chotsourian joined only by Milagros Arrom on guitar and metallophone throughout, instead of playing as part of a full trio band. And the experimental vibe with which “Aurora” (18:55) and “Aurora II” (15:17) play out isn’t to be understated. 1974 had some undertones of drone but made its primary impact with more traditional folk-style songwriting; guitar, piano, vocals at its core.

“El Herrero” and “El Laud” work in a similar vein — the former punctuated by Arrom‘s metallophone — and each half of the record finds a more plugged-in, fuzzy and psychedelic finish in “La Heroina” and the instrumental “El Llano,” but even these feel far removed from Chotsourian‘s last LP. Really, it doesn’t even take getting as far as two minutes into “Aurora” for the shift in approach to be made clear, the title-track starting with a drone-march of a guitar line backed by deep-mixed organ, a fuzzier guitar tone emerging amid a threat of drums before a turn into the verse riff after four minutes in brings the first lyrics. It leaves little room for middle-ground impressions, by which I mean the listener will either be hypnotized or not. “Aurora” celebrates its nod and does not depart from it until about 17 minutes in, as the central guitar figure is overwhelmed by swirling noise and feedback (and actually that guitar part is still there, just buried). Chotsourian has toyed with drone before, but “Aurora” marks the first time he’s brought Earth-esque drone rock to such account. To his credit, he makes it his own.

sergio ch

Likewise “Aurora II,” the arrival of which serves to emphasize the mirrored structure of Aurora‘s two halves, each of which begins with a longer experimental piece (the two “Aurora” tracks) and follows first with an acoustic-based cut (“El Herrero” and “El Laud”) and then a more electrified one to finish (“El Laud” and “El Llano”). Vinyl would seem to be the intent, at very least what’s meant to be conveyed, but I’m not sure the album would fit on a single platter in its current incarnation, i.e., without some form of editing for a shorter runtime. Nonetheless, “Aurora II” complements the preceding opener as the pinnacle of Chotsourian‘s experimentalism, moving from a wistful initial guitar line and metallophone flourish — one is reminded of Hexvessel‘s “Sacred Marriage,” though that’s likely sonic coincidence — through forwards and backwards psychedelic noodling into a wash of consuming and ritualized drone.

Instrumental in its entirety, its chimes, surrounding keyboard lines and opaque but still worship-prone soundscaping spread out as they go, moving further and further away from the earlier “Aurora,” the guitar line that started “Aurora II” and really just about any form of physical reality. What “Aurora II” shares in common with “Aurora” is trance and structure. Just as the opener held to its central guitar figure, “Aurora II” — while definitely departing from it in its extended midsection — bookends with that same wistful line, which returns following a stop at around 12 and a half minutes in to carry to the finish. At that point it’s hard not to think of “El Laud” as a return to ground, and that might indeed be Chotsourian‘s purpose, but wherever they were placed in the tracklisting, there could be little doubt Aurora would be defined by its titular pieces. That said, both “El Laud” and the fuzzy reaches of “El Llano” offer plenty of spaciousness in their own right, the latter finding a place within a drone more cosmic than that of “Aurora II” but not completely separate from it in its layering.

As the guitar on “El Llano” clicks off for the last time, kind of suddenly, the core message of Aurora is underlined in a stylistic expansion for Chotsourian‘s solo material. That is to say, if one was expecting a straight-ahead follow-up to 1974, this sophomore effort will no doubt come as something of a surprise. Taken in context within his discography — particularly some of the breadth attained on the aforementioned second Ararat disc — it’s not wholly out of place, but there’s a purposeful distance that Aurora puts between itself and just about everything else Chotsourian has done to-date. That makes it much more difficult to predict where he might go next, but also allows this collection to satisfy on another level, both on its own and in terms of the Sergio Ch. catalog, which it would seem has only begun to establish the broadness of its scope.

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

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Sergio Ch. Posts “El Laud” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sergio-ch-el-laud

It’s been a little more than a month since Sergio Chotsourian posted the first video from his second solo album, Aurora. That clip, for the title-track, preceded the digital issue of the six-song full-length itself through the former Los Natas frontman’s own South American Sludge Records imprint, which was earlier in October. Now, Chotsourian, who in the interim has also gotten the CD version of the record back from the plant ahead of the album’s physical release, to be celebrated this Thursday, Oct. 20, at Motoclub Bar in Chotsourian‘s native Buenos Aires. So yes, it’s been something of a busy time.

Perhaps all the better that “El Laúd,” for which Chotsourian has newly released a video that you can see below, finds him strumming away solo on an acoustic guitar. The sound is still full, with vocals doubled, but I’m relatively sure he’s playing the guitar live and adding another layer to his own vocals on the fly, so you still get a fairly intimate, minimal feel. Compared to some of the textures in which Aurora — which, as I’ve noted, is streaming in full at the South American Sludge Bandcamp — immerses itself, “El Laúd” is a much more folkish take, with a sweet and wistful melody and basic central guitar figure that complement each other well and ask nothing more of the listener than a couple minutes of time, which prove well worth investing.

Some explanation of the motives behind the VHS-style presentation of “El Laúd” follows the clip itself, referencing Chotsourian‘s father, who seems to have worked as a video editor for Argentinian public television. Good gig. In any case, that info has been run through a translation matrix, but I did my best to punch it up a bit where it seemed fitting to do so. I wouldn’t count on it being accurate to the original Spanish word-for-word, but you’ll get the idea.

Please enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “El Laúd” official video

“El Laud” is the new video and second cut of the new solo album of SERGIO Chotsourian bearing the name “AURORA”.

Simple and dense sound Creole song, stoner and pampeano. A metaphor of the instrument as a meeting place of salvation for dark souls and placated in search of light.

Produced and directed by Pablo Fernandez, “El Laud” seeks to relate a concept of a living room VCR tape in the ’80s, as appeared at the time on public television channels. Chotsourian is known for tracing moments of his childhood, where he accompanied his father for hours, editing programs, news and documentaries in the old channel 7 (ATC). Textures, betacam, VHS, television UMATIC and Argentina playing with the rawness and the melody of this song that explores memories and omens of hope.

Sergio Ch. website

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South American Sludge website

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Sergio Ch. Releases New Album Aurora; Streaming in Full Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sergio-ch

A figurehead for South American Sludge both in terms of the name of his label and the movement of heavy rock its moniker represents, Sergio Ch. has released his second solo album, Aurora. It’s available now to stream and download through the aforementioned imprint’s Bandcamp page (you can hear it below), and following up on last year’s 1974 (review here), it seems to take a similar tactic in building off prior-posted demo work even as it moves in a much different, far less acoustic direction. As you travel along the 18-minute opening title-track, you’ll notice a distinct sense of space in the presentation and an undercurrent of experimentalism to go with Chotsourian‘s hypnotic central guitar figure, the nod for which becomes a defining characteristic of the record that follows.

I’ll hope to be giving Aurora a proper review at some point soon, so won’t say too much more about it than that for now, but as I was enjoying digging in, it seemed only right to post the stream so you might do likewise if so inclined. You’ll find the player under the info below, which came down the PR wire:

sergio-ch-aurora

“Aurora” is the new album by Sergio Chotsourian. The second work in solo format that delivers the artist.

It is a continuous journey from the drone to Stoner Pampeano where the song becomes a mantra, the riffs become anthem and a unique experience to take off from the earthly and ascend to the SER.

It was recorded and produced by Chotsourian after a trip to the town of Aurora a mysterious place in the countryside in Uruguay. A place and energetic center of the earth where it has long been there have been countless cases of paranormal phenomena. As well as the alleged presence, manifestation and whale intraterrestrials beings.

Composed, recorded and mixed in just one week, the sucesorde “1974” is presented in a more electrically with a consolidated and powerful audio leaving a little aside this time the sound LO-FI to reach new places never before trodden.

Tracklist:
01 – Aurora
02 – El Herrero
03 – La Heroina
04 – Aurora II
05 – El Laud
06 – El Llano

Sergio CH. – Guitars & Vocals
Milagros Arrom – Guitars & Metalofon

Recorded and mixed by Sergio Ch in Death Studios
Mastered by Patricio Claypole in The Attic Studios
Artwork by Sergio Ch.
Produced by Sergio Ch.

Pirámide Records / South American Sludge Records

Presentación Oficial: Jueves 20 de Octubre en Motoclub, Bar V, 22 hrs
https://www.facebook.com/events/1799165187005425/

http://www.sergioch.com/
http://www.southamericansludge.com/
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/album/aurora
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

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Sergio Ch. Posts Video for “Aurora”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sergio-ch-aurora-video

Not sure on the exact date, but sometime this month, Sergio Chotsourian is set to release his new solo album, Aurora. Taking its name from its 19-minute title-track, the record is set to be something of a departure from Chotsourian‘s prior outing under the Sergio Ch. moniker, 2015’s 1974 (review here), and I think “Aurora” bears that out in its hypnotic, droning form, way more Earth in its foundation than touching on the folkish personal aspects of the last offering.

In the video for “Aurora,” the former Los Natas/current Soldati frontman seems to have recorded a different version of the song rather than simply edited it down. At least that’s how I understand it. In any case, at eight minutes, it’s still more than enough to give an impression of what the track is about — once you get to the languid, spacious vocals over the repeated guitar line, it’ll start to make sense, and that doesn’t take long — and while I haven’t heard the rest of the record and so won’t speak to how the other five tracks back this one up, it seems like even if they’re a return to the style of 1974 in some part, it will be a different enough context to really distinguish the two albums.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for when Aurora comes out, and suggest you do the same via the South American Sludge Bandcamp page linked below. Pirámide Records is also involved in the release.

Translated info from South American Sludge follows the video below. Enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “Aurora” official video

“AURORA” is the new video and initial caucus new solo album SERGIO CHOTSOURIAN bearing the same name.

Lysergic experience images where the artist is in a space formed by countless scenes hallucinogenic performing the song in unique and direct drive with its wall of amplifiers.
The concept of fixed camera was made by photographer SANTI SOMBRA, then editing, postproduction and address of the video was made by JUAN BACAGIANIS.

This version of the song is a new recording to be performed especially for video, more raw, direct and heavier than the original version of the album “AURORA”; It lasts only 7 minutes, when the original version of the album is 19 minutes long. Also recorded, mixed and produced by SERGIO CHOTSOURIAN.

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Sergio Ch. website

South American Sludge website

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