Soldati Announce New Single “El Nudo en la Soga” Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch soldati in studio

Soldati check in from the studio to inform that they’ve been working on a new single to be titled El Nudo en la Soga that’s set to be released as a seven-incher via South American Sludge Records hopefully by the end of this year. Based in Buenos Aires, the trio is led by guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian, who of course is the head of South American Sludge and known for his work over the years in outfits like Los Natas, Ararat and more recently his own Sergio Ch. solo-project, which released its second album, Aurora (review here), late last year.

With Soldati, Chotsourian steps back into more of a rock frontman role, as the three-piece showed on their self-titled debut EP (discussed here), also issued in 2016. That four-track outing varied its approach almost on a per-song basis, but in so doing set up an aesthetic scope that one expects will continue to expand with El Nudo en la Soga when it arrives. Comprised of its title-track and a redux of Chotsourian‘s solo piece “El Latigo y las Riendas,” the new offering was recorded and mixed analog at El Attic Studio and helmed by Patricio Claypole.

Below you’ll find a couple pics of from the studio and confirmation of the above. More to come, including audio, as we get closer to the release, but if you missed it, you can check out Soldati‘s recent video for prior-EP-opener “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” (originally premiered here) at the bottom of this post.

Dig it:

SOLDATI – New 7″ Coming Soon

Songs are “El Nudo en la Soga” and electric version of my piano intimate “El Latigo y las Riendas.” Recorded and mixed all analog tape 2 inch for a future single release on 7 inch vinyl thru South American Sludge Records.

Studio name is El Attic and the tracks were produced by Patricio Claypole, former Los Natas crew.

Soldati represents an intense and solid ride; a concept of heavy rock taken to the extreme, with strong lyrics, dark and visceral sound; continuing anew what Natas has bequeathed. A new journey and a new experience for lovers of Argentine stoner.

SOLDATI LINEUP:
Sergio Ch. – guitar/vocals
Lukas Hospital – bass
Ranz – drums

https://www.facebook.com/SOLDATIDOOMNACIONAL
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SASRECORDSARGENTINA

Soldati, “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

audiObelisk Transmission 061

Posted in Podcasts on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 61

Click Here to Download

 

Yes! A new podcast! Are you stoked? I’m stoked. If you’re not, you will be when you look at the list of bands included. In any case, let’s be stoked together, because rock and roll, and heavy psych and good music and, well, yeah. That’s pretty much stuff to be stoked about. It’s been absurdly long since the last time we did one of these. Too long. I don’t really have an excuse other than… gainful employment? Don’t worry, though. That’ll be over soon enough. Then it’ll be podcasts out the ass.

There’s some killer goods here though. Yeah, I decided to do a “Yeti” double-shot with Green Yeti into Telekinetic Yeti. That’s my version of me being clever. But both bands are righteous, and if you haven’t heard the Savanah record, or that new Tia Carrera jam, or the Cachemira or Big Kizz or Yagow or Vokonis or the Elder — oh hell, frickin’ all of it — it’s worth your time. That Emil Amos track just premiered the other day and I think will surprise a lot of people, and I liked the way it paired with the dark neofolk of Hermitess. And of course we get trippy in the second hour, as is the custom around here. But first a moment of prog clarity from the aforementioned Elder. That’s a good time as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Vokonis, “The Sunken Djinn” from The Sunken Djinn
0:06:47 Tia Carrera, “Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)” from Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)
0:16:33 Supersonic Blues, “Supersonic Blues Theme” from Supersonic Blues Theme / Curses on My Soul
0:19:28 Emil Amos, “Elements Cycling” from Filmmusik
0:22:28 Hermitess, “Blood Moon” from Hermitess
0:26:24 Savanah, “Mind” from The Healer
0:34:22 Yagow, “Non-Contractual” from Yagow
0:42:35 Big Kizz, “Eye on You” from Eye on You
0:45:53 Cachemira, “Jungla” from Jungla
0:52:05 Green Yeti, “Black Planets (Part 2)” from Desert Show
0:58:02 Telekinetic Yeti, “Stoned and Feathered” from Abominable

Second Hour:

1:02:10 Elder, “The Falling Veil” from Reflections of a Floating World
1:13:20 Riff Fist, “King Tide” from King Tide
1:24:15 Cavra, “Montaña” from Cavra
1:39:18 Causa Sui, “A Love Supreme” from Live in Copenhagen

Total running time: 1:55:53

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 061

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Soldati Premiere Video for “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

soldati la electricidad del arbol caido video

There was a lot to dig about the 2016 self-titled debut EP (discussed here) from Buenos Aires trio Soldati. Enough that I considered it high among last year’s best short releases. Somewhere between a demo and a short-album-style flow, it marked the first recording (no prior singles or anything like that) from the newcomer Argentina three-piece, which is fronted by Sergio Chotsourian — best known as the guitarist/vocalist for Los Natas, but now a label head for South American Sludge Records, bassist/vocalist in Ararat and solo artist as well, operating under his long-adopted Sergio Ch. moniker — and found them dug into low-end dense heavy rock from the very start of opening track “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido.”

Perhaps building in part — at least in terms of Chotsourian‘s own contributions; Soldati is rounded out by bassist Lukas Hospital and drummer Ranz — on the direction of the most recent Ararat full-length, 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), the four-tracker proffered rawer fare. Still some sense of atmosphere, particularly in the more spacious closer “El Pastor de las Hormigas,” which followed the galloping “Los Secretos de Shiva,” but the abiding impression was something closer to a Chotsourian-minted vision of heavy garage rock. Both neatly topping eight minutes in length, “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” and “Whiskey Negro” (video posted here) set this vibe in motion, the former with a fervent nod and push that, by the time the song is halfway through, is as much punk as it is heavy rock. Brash. Raucous. Topped late with some abrasive whistling lead. Purely badass.

The whole release is available digitally on the South American Sludge Bandcamp — physical media may or may not be in the works or may already exist, or they may simply just move onto the next offering, whatever form that will ultimately take — but with footage from the 1977 animated film Wizards (aka Los Hechiceros de la Guerra), Soldati are giving listeners another chance to get introduced to the EP. Whether you’re a longtime follower of Chotsourian‘s output or someone for whom Soldati‘s Soldati would be a first exposure, I can only recommend you take advantage of the opportunity.

Thanks to Sergio Ch. for letting me host the video premiere below.

I hope you enjoy:

Soldati, “La Electricidad del Arbol Caido” official video

OFFICIAL VIDEO OF THE DISC OF SOLDATI – “SOLDATI”
PRODUCED BY SERGIO CH.
VIDEO PERFORMED BY LUCAS MARTINEZ WITH IMAGES OF THE FILM “LOS HECHICEROS DE LA GUERRA”

SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

SERGIO CH. – Guitar & Vocals
LUKAS HOSPITAL – Bass
RANZ – Drums

Soldati on Thee Facebooks

Soldati on Bandcamp

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

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

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

sergio ch

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!

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

Los Natas, Death Sessions: Reflexiones

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

los-natas-death-sessions

Pressed in an edition of 750 green translucent LPs, Death Sessions begins with a faded-in wash of cymbals, a warm bassline, and soon unfolds a special stage in the life cycle of one of Argentina’s most pivotal heavy rock acts — definitely of their generation and perhaps of all time. Buenos Aires trio Los Natas released five proper studio full-lengths in their decade and a half together, as well numerous jam collections, shorter offerings, EPs, splits, compilations and so on, and their work ranged from the pivotal desert fuzz of their 1996/1998 debut, Delmar (discussed here), on Man’s Ruin Records, to the socially conscious motor-thrust of 2009’s Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here), on Small Stone, never failing to offer something different and distinct along the way.

The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian — see also: AraratSoldati, his Sergio Ch. solo work, etc. — bassist Gonzalo Villagra and drummer Walter Broide called it a day circa 2012 after the 2011 release of the compilation Rutation (review here), but their influence has continued to thrive particularly in South America, where Chotsourian has spent the last several years building his label, South American Sludge Records, as a go-to outlet for underground heavy rock from the across the continent. Death Sessions comes stamped with a South American Sludge logo on it, arrives simultaneously with a reissue of the 2002 third album from Los NatasCorsario Negro — also limited in its number — and again, finds Los Natas at a very particular point in their career. Tracked live in its eight-track entirety, mixed and mastered by Patricio Claypole at Estudio El Attic, it captures the last time they were in the recording studio together.

As to what they were doing in the studio that day in 2010, I’m not entirely sure. Four out of the eight inclusions on Death Sessions come from Nuevo Orden de la Libertad — that’s “Las Campanadas” and “Nuevo Orden de la Libertad” on side A and “Ganar-Perder” and “10.000” on side B — and the rest of the material derives, one song each, from the rest of their full-length catalog, so the clearest impression from the platter is that what we’re hearing is a live set being rehearsed. Why this particular rehearsal wound up being recorded, I couldn’t say. Maybe Los Natas were a band who always tracked their practices, as some do. If so, there should be countless such tapes out there, but Death Sessions of course feels special for both its context as well as for the immediacy of the three-piece’s delivery. Hearing songs like “Soma” from Delmar at the outset of side A feeding into “Las Campanadas” or hearing the track “Rutation,” which originally appeared on their second album, 1999’s Ciudad de Brahman (discussed here), close out after “10.000” not only shows the stylistic swath that Los Natas covered during their years together, but underscores how much their sound was their own across that time.

los natas

A live set ideally would function much the same. But live sets come and go. The difference with Death Sessions is in the clarity of the presentation. True, they grew tonally rawer over their records, moving away from the sandy warmth of their early work to incorporate influences from punk rock, Motörhead, and so on, but Death Sessions gives them an opportunity to draw the various sides of their personality together. “Humo Negro del Vaticano” from 2006’s El Hombre Montaña seems to find middle ground between the quieter opening of “Soma” and “10.000” still to come as it rounds out side A, and this is preserved it in a way that even a concert film — which would certainly be welcome but inherently about more than just the audio progression of the band — couldn’t do.

From the tiny stops in the winding riff of “Nuevo Orden de la Libertad” to the soothing patience in “Ganar-Perder” and the psychedelic mini-jam at the end, leading to the crashes at the start of the rolling, jazzy tempo-play of “El Cono del Encono” from Corsario Negro with Broide joining Chotsourian on vocals, Death Sessions ends up summarizing Los Natas‘ career in a way more fitting than even a greatest-hits-type compilation couldn’t, because it unites the songs in tone and performance, rather than simply drawing from various studio sources or other recordings.

Chotsourian leads a trail-off jam at the end of “El Cono del Encono” as well, which brings “10.000” around to reground the proceedings with a more straightforward push ahead of the finale, following that uptick in energy with another punkish drive, building in speed as it gets going, headed for a chaotic crash. This very obviously isn’t the first time Los Natas have finished a set with “Rutation,” and they seem to have a good time with it, adding some swing to the delivery, Chotsourian and Broide shouting out lines together. It’s a last bit of fun that, again, in the context of this being the final time Los Natas would record, puts emphasis on their chemistry, which if there’s an underlying message to Death Sessions at all, it’s that that’s where the emphasis belongs.

I’ll be blunt and say I continue to hope for a Los Natas reunion. As a fan of the band across the sundry points of their development, I think they broke up when they still had more to offer sonically, and to me, they seem all the more relevant now in the half-decade that’s passed since they stopped. A new album, whatever form it ultimately would take, feels like a prospect that would only build on their legacy. Whether or not that will happen, I don’t know and won’t speculate, but especially as a piece for fans, Death Sessions reinforces much of what made Los Natas so special in the first place. Though it may have been recorded in happenstance — that is, the band may or may not have known their time together was coming to a close — as a document of who they were and what they did, it is fortunate these songs and this moment can be so righteously preserved.

Los Natas, “El Cono del Encono” official video

Los Natas on Thee Facebooks

Los Natas website

South American Sludge on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

Vinnum Sabbathi, Gravity Works: Vastness and Density

Posted in Reviews on January 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

vinnum sabbathi gravity works

One doubts if Mexico City’s Vinnum Sabbathi had in mind defending the sciences as a political position when they were putting together their debut full-length, Gravity Works, for release through LSDR Records, Aim Down Sight, and South American Sludge, but there’s a clear sense of celebrating achievement as the five-song collection plays out topped in songs like the 11-minute “Early Works” and the penultimate “Loop Quantum Gravity” by public domain samples concerning all things space: astronauts, cosmonauts, the expanding universe, and so on. Of course, the use of samples in instrumental heavy rock to take the place of lyrics isn’t anything new — it’s been done for at least the last quarter-century — but the four-piece of guitarist Alberto, bassist Samuel, Mico (or Gerardo) and sampler/synther Roman use the clips also to execute a cohesive theme across the album’s 43-minute span, and that’s somewhat rarer in terms of process.

Gravity Works is consistent in this, and from their 2015 split with Bar de Monjas, Fuzzonaut (review here), back across a slew of EPs, digital singles and other short releases to their 2012 demo, they’ve been nearly entirely focused on the cosmic in one way or another. It’s almost odd, then, that they don’t actually play space rock. One might expect the thrust of Hawkwind or the grand, effects-soaked meanderings of any number of instrumental jammers given all the space-space-space that Vinnum Sabbathi highlight, but the band actually has much more in common with the likes of Bongripper of Monolord (obviously sans vocals in the case of the latter); proffering crushing wave after crushing wave of big-tone riffs to build a massive, engaging nod.

Even when it locks into the chugging groove of centerpiece “Gravity Waves,” Gravity Works does so with an abiding thickness in the guitar and bass, and the drums seem more than happy to roll this gargantuan onslaught forward. The songs themselves are plotted but still exploratory in the sense of likely having been built out of jams — it’s easy to imagine Vinnum Sabbathi in a rehearsal space, hopefully wearing earplugs, digging into the churn that emerges from the almost calm wade into dense waters at the start of opener “Weightlessness” — and the samples provide more than flourish throughout, becoming an essential part of the record from that opener onward.

Synth is used more sparingly, unless it’s there and the guitar and bass have just eaten it entirely — possible — but the recording/mixing job by Miguel Fraino at Vesubio34 Studio and mastering by James Plotkin (Khanate, so many others) leave little to want in terms of the production quality, capturing the push of air coming from Alberto and Samuel‘s cabinet speakers, the rumble of the latter on especially prevalent on “Loop Quantum Gravity” but always a key element, without pulling away from presenting the dynamic the band has managed to build over their five-plus years together.

vinnum sabbathi

That is to say, Gravity Works sounds completely fucking elephantine. Listen to basically everything after “Weightlessness” (also the shortest cut at 5:22) introduces the sprawl, whether it’s “Early Works,” “Gravity Waves,” “Loop Quantum Gravity” or closer “The Probe B,” and you’ll experience chest-compressing tonal heft of a suitably high order. But Vinnum Sabbathi‘s first long-player has its atmospheric aspects as well, and whether that’s the stretch of subdued-but-tense guitar that opens “Early Works” or the midsection sample break in “Loop Quantum Gravity,” that side is just as integral in the overall execution as the lurching thud of “Gravity Waves.”

And though with its runtime and general aesthetic cohesion, Gravity Works seems like a prime vinyl candidate, the course it follows is linear, fleshing out from its beginning as it moves toward “The Probe B,” which summarizes the impact of the material, adds nuance of wah in the guitar to subtly reinforce the notion of Vinnum Sabbathi as a band still growing, still finding themselves and who will look to build on what they’ve accomplished in these songs, and caps with a fervent kick in tempo that acts as an apex for the whole outing. One supposes there isn’t much else they could’ve done to end the record, but at 4:25, after a stop that gives a sample talking about a black hole free reign, the guitars start faster, the drums come back on a roll and a gallop that imagines High on Fire meeting YOB takes hold, shoving the track and the listener onward toward, what? Destruction? Some greater interstellar consumption? A subspace corridor of color, fuzz riffs and undulating sound waves?

I don’t really know, but by the time they lock in the final couple measures of nod and rumble to a finish, I’m ready for whatever the destination might be. In terms of Gravity Works itself, that concluding hum would seem to be it, but there’s a bigger story being introduced here, and for Vinnum Sabbathi, it will be their creative progression that enables them to tell it. What they do moving forward and how they continue to come together as a band, expand the chemistry they showcase in these tracks and work to make the tenets of cosmic doom their own. An overarching direction isn’t something one is inclined to guess at, though speculation is always fun, but Vinnum Sabbathi‘s debut impresses thoroughly because of what it might be starting as well as what it achieves in its own right, and it’s only fitting that it should dwell in those multiple dimensions, since that seems to be where the band has been headed the whole time.

Vinnum Sabbathi, Gravity Works (2017)

Vinnum Sabbathi on Thee Facebooks

Vinnum Sabbathi on Bandcamp

LSDR Records on Thee Facebooks

Aim Down Sight Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , ,

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)

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge website

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Bandcamp

Pirámide Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , ,