RECOVERED: Climbing Ararat, Forging Resistance

Awesome.Even looking at the two titles with which he?s chosen to represent his first solo outing apart from Los Natas, it?s plain to see Sergio Chotsourian is working to reconcile two sides of himself. For a band moniker, he?s chosen Ararat, the highest mountain in and national symbol of his ancestral Armenia (actually it?s located in Turkey now, but everyone pretty much considers it Armenian anyway), and for an album title, Musica de la Resistencia, which is inextricably linked to the Latin American revolutionary ideal. The Argentine guitarist/vocalist lets loose this cross-cultural interplay across seven mostly experimental tracks on Ararat?s MeteorCity debut, making a marked sonic departure from his main outfit — at least mostly.

There are two extended tracks on the mostly instrumental Musica de la Resistencia, and the first of them is opener ?Gitanoss,? named for the Romani peoples of Spain. The song begins with an echoey sample and high desert tones with drums underneath before devolving into more ambient territory. Chotsourian wastes no time establishing the fact that Ararat is not going to be a band with one particular approach and a darker track such as the organ-infused ?Gitanoss? is only one face he might choose to show at any given time. Surprisingly, he follows it with an exact port of ?Dos Horses? from Los Natas? latest album, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (Small Stone). The tones that began and ended that record appear here almost as a flotation device to keep listeners from drowning in the dreariness of the 14 minutes prior, although one wonders if Chotsourian was looking to connect Musica de la Resistencia with Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, he couldn?t have taken the central musical theme of ?Dos Horses? and put it into a new context. The piece has already shown itself malleable enough to be used for multiple purposes, but this is a small gripe.

Hye buddy, turn around. We can't see you from this angle.?El Carrusel? does show a bit of a circus atmosphere, but it?s twisted like a slowed-down version of the backward tape loops that made ?Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite? from Sgt. Pepper?s so terrifying. Chotsourian?s take on it is somewhat less horror-based, though, and the light guitar lines at the start of ?El Carrusel? wind up sounding like the atmospheric menu music to a Final Fantasy game. The organ that showed up in the opener makes another, more droning, appearance, and with these two components each clearly stated, they?re soon joined together, perhaps as a means for exacting the reconciliation noted above. It?s a track heavier than the sum of its parts either way, and the minute of wholesome acoustic reprieve that comes with ?Little Grissy? feels well earned and bright in comparison to what surrounds it.

Like ?Dos Horses,? ?Ganar-Perder? is also pulled from Los Natas? Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, but the version that appears on Musica de la Resistencia is anything but identical. Longer, acoustic and deconstructed, Chotsourian makes the song into a work of avant singer-songwriterism, with keys behind his guitar and a long silence before ?Magia Negra,? the second of the album?s lengthiest tracks at 11:50, comes on with backwards guitar layered over a drone. The movements of ?Magia Negra? are varied but fluid, and as the keyboard washes give way to feedback-accompanied acoustics that fall into a percussion-laced build before highlighting a warm bass tone and ultimately succumbing once again to the backwards guitar and a noisy finish, it?s easy to get lost in the proceedings and come out of it at the end wondering what the hell you just heard. It?s a song to make you lose time.

Closing Musica de la Resistencia, ?Castro? begins with a sample that may or may not be of its namesake and rides a relatively straightforward riff to the album?s finish. There are no vocals other than the occasional howl or scream, and the drums featured feel like a novelty in comparison to the six tracks prior. Apart from recognizable flashes, Ararat has little in common with Los Natas, and the challenging aesthetic adopted by Chotsourian for this project will most likely put off some of the fans of his principle outlet?s more accessible, catchy moments. Still, as an experiment it would be hard to rate Musica de la Resistencia as anything other than a success, since it righteously culls together its multi-cultural pieces into a cohesive whole. It is an album that demands close attention and maybe nighttime, but provided these conditions can be met, it?s a rewarding listening experience well worth the effort.

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