Sergio Ch. Premieres “Los Barcos” Video from 1974

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

SERGIO CH AT PIANO

Over the last couple years as former Los Natas and current Soldati frontman Sergio Chotsourian — also of Ararat, whose status is somewhat up in the air at this point — has developed his multifaceted solo persona Sergio Ch., experimenting with South American folk traditions, psychedelia and drone fluidity, as well as developed various one-offs and side-projects, I’ve posted any number of videos corresponding to whatever he’s got going at the time. Some are premieres, like the one for “Los Barcos” below, and some are just put out there as quickly as I can catch up to their actual release. But he’s been a regular around these parts for a while now, and that’s not without reason.

The basic fact of the matter is I believe what Chotsourian is doing now is important. His status in Argentinian and South American heavy in general — fostered not only through Los Natas‘ enduring influence, but through his South American Sludge Records label as well — is unquestionable, but in listening to his two solo records, 2016’s 1974 (review here) and 2017’s Aurora (review here), it’s abundantly clear his interest lies not in rehashing past glories, but continuing to push into new areas of sound and style. Despite this, his approach is consistently organic and his voice resonant with emotion. There’s always genuine expression happening, regardless of the context in which it appears.

So if you’re wondering, I guess that’s why I try and post about his work as much as possible, and that’s why I’m going to continue to do so. I suppose you could say I’m a fan.

“Los Barcos” originally appeared on 1974, and if you’re wondering why there’d be a video for it now, note the violin guest spot from Milagros Arrom, who also did the camerawork for the clip.

Please enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “Los Barcos” official video premiere

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “1974”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
CAMARA POR MILAGROS ARROM
VIDEO REALIZADO POR LUCAS MARTINEZ

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Gabo Ferro & Sergio Ch. Post “Corona de Caranchos” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch y gabo ferro

In a way, it seems that a collaboration between Sergio Chotsourian and Gabo Ferro was probably bound to happen. Both Buenos Aires-based artists have long-running career trajectories that have brought them to solo singer-songwriterism: Ferro was the founding vocalist of hardcore outfit Porco and went on to release a number of albums on his own, while Chotsourian took an even more path to releasing solo albums as the founding guitarist/vocalist of Los Natas and an ongoing string of other projects and collaborations from Ararat to Soldati and so on. Neither is a stranger to working in collaboration with other artists, and together, as Gabo Ferro y Sergio Ch., they’ll release their debut album, Historias de Pescadores y Ladrones de la Pampa Argentina, next month on Oui Oui Records.

The album’s title translates to “stories of fishermen and thieves of the Argentinian lowlands,” and if you note that there’s an immediate gabo ferro y sergio ch historias de pescadores y ladrones de la pampa argentinaconnection to place in the title, that would hardly seem to be a mistake. To herald the record’s arrival, Ferro and Chotsourian have released a video for “Corona de Caranchos,” and it’s a song steeped in South American folk traditions. Still modern in its structure and sound, it speaks to that specificity of place in its atmosphere and melody, bringing the listener along on a textured journey that is naturalistic in its execution and no less emotionally resonant than it is thoughtfully composed. I’ll cop to not being as familiar with Ferro‘s work as Chotsourian‘s but as “Corona de Caranchos” demonstrates plainly, their two voices and styles work well alongside each other, and the single leaves one curious to find out where else Historias de Pescadores y Ladrones de la Pampa Argentina might take them. Presumably, at some point, near some water.

When we spoke, Chotsourian had the release in two weeks through Oui Oui Records. Sometimes their stuff can be hard to find outside Argentina, but we live in a magical age of technical wonders in which it’s really, really, really easy to spend money, and if you’re reading this, you’re already on the internet, so I’m guessing you can figure it out.

Enjoy the “Corona de Caranchos” video below:

Gabo Ferro & Sergio Ch., “Corona de Caranchos” official video

Directed by Dante Martínez.

From the album: “Historias de Pescadores y Ladrones de la Pampa Argentina.”

Out on OUI OUI RECORDS.

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “Fuerte Armado” Video; Updates on Next Album From Skulls

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Sergio Chotsourian, the padrino of modern Argentinian heavy rock, is being somewhat tight-lipped when it comes to his next solo release. One might recall his last outing, the sophomore LP Aurora (review here), worked in a structure of offsetting two massive works of drone with more naturalistic, acoustic-based fare. One can extrapolate from the rather minimal info Chotsourian gave below that From Skulls might follow a similar pattern upon its release sometime later in 2018. Even if there are structural similarities, however, I wouldn’t count on Chotsourian to go repeating himself. Anyone who heard Aurora after his 2015 solo debut 1974 (review here) or who may have followed his career through his days in Los Natas, to Ararat, to Soldati and any of the number of projects he has going now, including cradling an entire continent’s worth of underground heavy with his South American Sludge Records label can tell you: you never quite know what you’re going to get.

All the better, and speaking of Los Natas — if you missed the news earlier this month — that most woefully defunct of power trios has inked a deal to release their classic debut album, Delmar, as an LP through Italian imprint Argonauta Records. That record, originally issued through Man’s Ruin, was something of a watershed moment for desert rock not actually from the Californian desert, and though by the time they were done in 2009/2010, Los Natas had become a very different band — for example, adding the “Los” part to their name where it hadn’t been there to start with — it remains a landmark over 20 years later.

Why bring it up now? Well, for starters it’s not like I can talk about From Skulls since I haven’t heard it yet, and also, if as Chotsourian asserts below that it’s maybe his best album ever, it’s got some tough competition in that regard, but with an assessment like that, I look forward all the more to hearing it when the time comes.

Until then, enjoy “Fuerte Armado” on the player below:

Sergio Ch., “Fuerte Armado” live playthrough

I’ve just finished recording a new solo album. Folk drone. I’m thrilled maybe my best album ever.

12 songs. 7 folk songs, 2 mega drones. Releasing by end of the year.

But recorded a live track as an advance video for it.

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Sergio Ch. Premieres Video for “Tomatito”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

Surrounded by amps in a studio with cameras set up around him switching from fixed position to fixed position, the new video for Sergio Chotsourian‘s what would seem to be an as-it-was-recorded version of the Los Natas song “Tomatito” demonstrates once again that that band’s former frontman always seems to have something in the works. Some new project, some new release either of his own projects or through his South American Sludge Records imprint, some new solo album, or in this case, apparently a couple minutes to spare and the simple will to make a new video happen. Directed by Pablo Fernandez, it’s not unlike the clip posted last year for “El Laud” from his second solo full-length, Aurora (review here), in terms of what’s actually happening — i.e., he’s playing the song directly to the viewer — but to get a rare updated take on an older Los Natas track, you’re certainly not about to hear me complain.

“Tomatito” originally opened the much-missed, Argentina-based heavy rockers exploratory set Toba Trance II, issued in 2004 via Nasoni Records. Its foundation was acoustic then as well, and it gave a humble start to the companion-piece to Toba Trance I — the two offerings would eventually be compiled together on CD — and set a contemplative mood ahead of the jammy explorations that followed as the trio made their way through extended pieces like “Traicion en el Arrocero” and “Humo de Marihuana.” Working under his long-established nom-de-guerre of Sergio Ch., Chotsourian here brings a new intimacy to the piece while also making it more expansive via vocal delay and an amplified acoustic sound that lends weight to the strum at its root. The melody, wistful as ever, comes through clearer in the newer version as well, and where previously “Tomatito” was almost too easy to pass over for the spaciousness of what followed on Toba Trance II, here it becomes a work of almost anthemic folk, sounding as fresh in its delivery as it does timeless in its structure.

I’ve had the pleasure of hosting numerous premieres for Chotsourian over the last couple years for videos, audio tracks and whatnot. This is not happenstance. I consider myself a huge fan of his work and I’m happy to continually post about it in its various manifestations. One never quite knows what might be coming next from Sergio Ch., but whatever he delivers, he delivers.

Please enjoy “Tomatito” below:

Sergio Ch., “Tomatito” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE LOS NATAS – “TOBA TRANCE”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO DIRIGIDO Y REALIZADO POR PABLO FERNANDEZ

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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

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Sergio Ch., Aurora (2016)

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Sergio Ch. Posts Video for New Song “El Latigo y las Riendas”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Should we be surprised that Sergio Chotsourian has new material in the works? Yeah, probably not. At all. We’re barely a month removed from his last video, an animated clip for the song “La Historia de Hanuman” (posted here) from his 2015 debut solo album, 1974 (review here), and certainly less than a year out from his issuing the 2016 follow-up, Aurora (review here), but that’s just kind of how it goes with the former Los Natas and current Soldati and Ararat frontman. Multiple projects, multiple releases in the works. Always something happening. Dude is prolific. From where I sit, that only adds to the appeal of his work.

“El Latigo y las Riendas” is the first glimpse of material post-Aurora that Chotsourian has given, and among the things it tells us is that it seems like he’ll continue to keep his focus on solo work for the time being while still playing out with Soldati. That puts Ararat on the back burner as they have been for the last couple years as the Sergio Ch. solo-project has really started to take shape around Chotsourian and various collaborators, from Miagros Arrom, who played on Aurora, to his daughter, Isabel Chotsourian, who sat in on a re-recording of the 1974 the track “La Sal y Arroz” (posted here) last Spring.

I would doubt that the version of “El Latigo y las Riendas” featured in the video below — which if the curtain in the background is anything to go by seems to have been recorded in a living room (presumably Chotsourian‘s own) before being run through a line-drawing filter — is the final one, and kind of assume that by the time the track makes it onto whatever release it does, it will be fleshed out some, though one never really knows, and Sergio Ch. has never exactly been shy about giving his listeners a raw glimpse at his songwriting process. Or, you know, could be both, since it’s not like songs haven’t shown up in different forms across different releases, sometimes even different bands. One can never really be too sure. That’s part of the appeal too.

Please enjoy “El Latigo y las Riendas” below, followed by a translated version of the announcement that was posted when the track was shared on the social medias:

Sergio Ch., “El Latigo y las Riendas” official video

happiness is only real when shared… is a phrase that I stay in some movie. For those who are and for those who left us a message. New video premiere of Sergio Ch. “El Latigo y las Riendas.” Enjoy!

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Sergio Ch. Posts “La Historia de Hanuman” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio-ch-la-historia-de-hanuman

True, it might seem kind of curious that former Los Natas and current Soldati frontman Sergio Chotsourian would dip back to his 2015 debut solo album, 1974 (review here) and bring together a video for the track “La Historia de Hanuman” when in 2016 — working under his adopted Sergio Ch. moniker and releasing through his own South American Sludge Records imprint and Pirámide Records — he put out a follow-up, Aurora (review here). Generally one promotes the most recent release. My suspicion, however, is that the “La Historia de Hanuman” clip has been in the works for a while. Hand animation takes time, and it doesn’t seen unreasonable to think the second Sergio Ch. record happened while the process was ongoing.

As is my usual position when it comes to Chotsourian‘s work, I’ll take it as it comes. And frankly, I’m happy for the excuse to revisit 1974, which was an album filled with heartfelt personal emotionalism and grief expressed in raw acoustic fashion as well as an experimentalism and sonic range that Aurora only continued to broaden. Sharing some of its tracks — including “La Historia de Hanuman” — with Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), the third full-length from the Chotsourian-led trio Ararat1974 found its maker coping with the loss of a parent and telling stories from his own life in a way that no one else could. I don’t speak the language, but those songs — once again, including “La Historia de Hanuman” — remain poignant and memorable. I expect they will be a part of Chotsourian‘s repertoire going forward no matter where his progression as a songwriter might lead him. Rightly so.

You’ll pardon me if I leave the credits for the video in their original Spanish. I think even if you don’t really speak the language you can probably figure out what they say, and somehow it seems more appropriate than translating this time around.

Enjoy:

Sergio Ch. “La Historia de Hanuman” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE SERGIO CH. – “1974”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR JOAQUIN ZELAYA

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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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