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!
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 Ararat, 1974 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.
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
Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
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.
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 Auroraputs 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.
Consider this your usual disclaimer that, like any of this site’s coverage of year-end whatnottery, this podcast is by no means attempting to capture all of 2016’s best tracks. It is, however, over four hours long, and frankly that seems like enough to ask. If you decide to take it on and sample what I found to be some of the best material to come down the line over the last 12 months, please know you have my thanks in advance. For what it’s worth, it was a lot of fun to put together, and that’s not always the case with these.
But about the length. I’ve done double-sized year-end specials for a while now. It’s always just seemed a fair way to go. And the last few at least have been posted the week of the Xmas holiday as well, which for me is of dual significance since it just so happens four hours is right about what it takes to drive from where I live to where my family lives, so when I look at this massive slew of 34 acts, from the riff-led righteousness of Wo Fat and Curse the Son to the crush of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and SubRosa to the psychedelic reaches of Zun and Øresund Space Collective (who probably show up in podcasts more than anyone, oddly enough), I also think of going to see my family, which has become my favorite part of the holidays.
Whatever associations you might draw with it, I very much hope you enjoy listening. Thanks for taking the time.
Track details follow:
0:00:00 Wo Fat, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” from Midnight Cometh
0:09:35 Greenleaf, “Howl” from Rise Above the Meadow
0:14:57 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
0:20:49 Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” from Tao of the Devil
0:26:27 Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” from Aurora
0:29:44 Child, “Blue Side of the Collar” from Blueside
0:35:31 Geezer, “Bi-Polar Vortex” from Geezer
0:43:59 Zun, “Come Through the Water” from Burial Sunrise
0:49:27 Baby Woodrose, “Mind Control Machine” from Freedom
0:54:11 Curse the Son, “Hull Crush Depth” from Isolator
0:59:31 Borracho, “Shot down, Banged up, Fade Away” from Atacama
1:05:50 Scissorfight, “Nature’s Cruelest Mistake” from Chaos County
1:09:19 Truckfighters, “The Contract” from V
1:16:30 Spidergawd, “El Corazon del Sol” from III
1:21:24 Fatso Jetson, “Royal Family” from Idle Hands
1:26:13 Worshipper, “Step Behind” from Shadow Hymns
1:30:57 Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” from Y Proffwyd Dwyll
1:39:42 Druglord, “Regret to Dismember” from Deepest Regrets
1:46:34 Moon Coven, “New Season” from Moon Coven
1:52:03 Gozu, “Tin Chicken” from Revival
1:59:49 Year of the Cobra, “Vision of Three” from …In the Shadows Below
2:06:53 The Munsens, “Abbey Rose” from Abbey Rose
2:14:56 Lamp of the Universe, “Mu” from Hidden Knowledge
2:21:26 1000mods, “On a Stone” from Repeated Exposure To…
2:26:45 Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow” from Is Satan Real?
2:30:43 Vokonis, “Acid Pilgrim” from Olde One Ascending
2:37:35 Slomatics, “Electric Breath” from Future Echo Returns
2:43:02 Droids Attack, “Sci-Fi or Die” from Sci-Fi or Die
2:47:20 King Buffalo, “Drinking from the River Rising” from Orion
2:56:51 Comet Control, “Artificial Light” from Center of the Maze
3:06:37 Øresund Space Collective, “Above the Corner” from Visions Of…
3:22:51 Naxatras, “Garden of the Senses” from II
3:33:14 SubRosa, “Black Majesty” from For this We Fought the Battle of Ages
3:48:23 Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, “Escape Through the Rift” from Tranquonauts
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.
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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
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:
“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
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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
A couple years ago, Sergio Chotsourian, formerly of Los Natas and currently of Soldati, Ararat, his Sergio Ch. solo work and South American Sludge Records issued a two-song release called Aurora. It was digital-only and I’m just going to assume that the new version of Aurora due to be issued as a CD/DL next month — on South American Sludge and Pirámide Records — is built off that. The opening title track, on the 2013 original, was over 19 minutes long, an experiment in drone looping topped off with echoing vocals, creating a pretty vast space. “El Herrero,” though much shorter, kept a similar mindset, just didn’t take it to quite the same lengths, blending it instead with Sergio Ch.‘s well established memorable songwriting.
I don’t know whether Aurora — the 2016 version — will work in the same way. If I had to guess, I’d imagine it will work along reasonably similar lines to how his 1974 full-length (review here) was issued first in a sort of demo form and then built out to be a complete album. The addition of other tracks here and instrumentation gives some clue as to the overall intent toward a fuller sound, but of course we won’t actually know until it’s out.
If you don’t already keep your eye on the South American Sludge Bandcamp page (linked below), it’s a treasure trove of underground heavy in a variety of styles from Argentina and beyond that’s easily worth your time and support. Just a word to the wise.
Album info follows. It’s in Spanish, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out what “guitarra” means, even if your language skills are as limited as mine:
Sergio Ch. – Aurora [CD] [S.A.S. 050]
Tracklist: 01 Aurora 02 El Herrero 03 La Heroina 04 Aurora II 05 El Laud 06 El Llano