Sergio Ch. Premieres “Desde el Adentro” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

To call the guy prolific doesn’t even really do justice. Sergio Chotsourian, frontman of Soldati, formerly of Ararat and Los Natas, has already in the last year overseen the release of a box set of his first three solo albums done under his chosen moniker Sergio Ch., as well as a trilogy of solo singles, the debut of the trio BRNO (review here) late in 2020 and more. He’s got more waiting to come out too. “Desde el Adentro” was first posted in April and already he’s got a new song on the South American Sludge Records Bandcamp page in the seven-minute instrumental take on BRNO‘s “You Are the Moon” re-dubbed “Soy Luna Soy God.” I have a tendency to admire work ethic, and Chotsourian‘s creative pulse beats fast.

“Desde el Adentro” is a partial departure from his solo fare. Not for being produced, recorded, performed SERGIO CH DESDE EL ADENTROand topped with cover art by Chotsourian himself so much as by pushing deeper into South American folk stylings than he’s gone since his first solo record, 1974 (review here). The progression of his craft in the five-plus years since has been toward an experimentalist blend of drone, electric and acoustic guitar topped generally but not always with his vocals, and “Desde el Adentro” is comparatively minimal. Guy-and-guitar. It may be that Chotsourian will rework the song in some form down the line — it could end up anywhere and for all I know it already has and there’s another recording in the can waiting to come out on one or another album-to-be — but for now, the mostly-subdued, contemplative feel suits the melody well and plays to a traditionalism Chotsourian often engages but rarely so directly.

I’ve done any number of premieres for Sergio Ch. and his bands over the last however long. Simple reason is I believe in what he’s doing. I dig it, and though I’ve followed his career for the better part of two decades at this point, he still manages to offer up surprises on the regular. This is one of them.

So please enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “Desde el Adentro” official video premiere

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL SINGLE DE SERGIO CH. – “DESDE EL ADENTRO”
VIDEO REALIZADO POR SERGIO CH.

SERGIO CH. – DESDE EL ADENTRO
[S.A.S. 118]

SERGIO CH. – GUITARRA & VOCALS

GRABADO, MEZCLADO Y MASTERIZADO POR SERGIO CH. EN DEATH STUDIOS
ARTWORK POR SERGIO CH.
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.

SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

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Sergio Ch. Posts New Video & Single “Manto Negro”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch manto negro video

Drone folk has kind of become the bread and melted butter of Sergio Chotsourian‘s solo work as Sergio Ch., but the new 10-minute single “Manto Negro” brings the two sides together in especially coherent fashion. Atop waves of organ and minimal guitar lead lines about four minutes into the proceedings, the vocals are a procession unto themselves; melodic and downtrodden-feeling without melodrama. I’d be surprised if this is the last incarnation this song will have, since Chotsourian has a tendency to revisit material and offer different interpretations through various recordings and outfits — his current trio, Soldati, released their debut album, Doom Nacional (review here), amid the global panic of Spring 2020 — and there seems to be plenty of ground to explore here. As it is, however, the immersion is palpable.

The song cycles through twice and makes short work of the 10 minutes it consumes. Organ is constant, but the guitar comes and goes, trading off with the vocals. Self-recorded, mixed and mastered, not to mention released, “Manto Negro” is a solo effort in the purest sense, and it has an intimacy to coincide.

…I’m gonna be honest with you. I firmly believe that the only reason you don’t hear Chotsourian‘s name in the same breath as people like Dylan Carlson is because he’s from Argentina. I’m not trying to belittle Carlson‘s history or Earth in saying that, but if Sergio Ch. was working in English and was a white dude from wherever, people would be lining up to fawn over his shit, critics included. I can think few songwriters in a heavy sphere who have a mindset as genuinely open and forward thinking as he does. Sorry, that’s just how I see it. He’s a key figure in South American heavy, and South American heavy is some of the world’s finest.

I got all wound up. I’ll take a deep breath and count to four. You enjoy the track:

Sergio Ch., “Manto Negro” official video

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL SINGLE DE SERGIO CH. – “MANTO NEGRO”
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.
VIDEO REALIZADO POR SERGIO CH.

[S.A.S. 115]

SERGIO CH. – GUITARRA, PIANO & VOCALS

GRABADO, MEZCLADO Y MASTERIZADO POR SERGIO CH. EN DEATH STUDIOS
ARTWORK POR SERGIO CH.
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.

SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., “Manto Negro”

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Sergio Ch. Posts “La Familia y las Guerras” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch

At the time it came out four years ago in 2015, Sergio Ch.‘s first solo album, 1974 (review here), seemed to take shape directly from out of the third offering from his band Ararat, 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here). The two shared several tracks, among them “La Familia y las Guerras,” and both had an overarching purpose in introspection, an intimate feel that manifested in experimentalist-tinged folk in one and brash heavy punk/rock in the other. Still, they were linked, and with Sergio Chotsourian‘s songwriting at the epicenter, they held a consistency that went beyond whatever sonic disparities there may have been. Different appeal, same level of quality between them.

Chotsourian has since gone on to form the trio Soldati and begin to dole out singles and other short releases ahead of an eventual full-length, and he’s also put out the second acoustic-ish album, 2017’s Aurora (review here), as well as several collaborative efforts of various stripes, but I still break out 1974 on occasion, and songs like “La Familia y las Guerras” are a big part of why. Arrangement-wise, there’s nothing outlandish about it, and it’s not as drone even as some of the material on the subsequent full-length would be, but it carries a nonetheless open feel and is spacious thanks to a bit of echo while still staying intimate in a close-up-to-the-mic vocal-style from Chotsourian, who if he didn’t record it live certainly gives a convincing facsimile of having done so.

As to why now would be a time to make a video for a song on a record that was released so long ago, I’d only ask the obvious question: “Who cares?” In addition to the aforementioned and long-bandied Soldati long-player, there’s been word that Chotsourian will do another solo offering under his own name, and that will be something to look forward to, but in the meantime, why not shut up and take what one can get? If that’s going for a backwards walk in some hot-looking desert space, then so be it. One could, of course, do a lot worse, both in the video and in life generally.

I’ve also included the full 1974 stream below, in case it’s been a while.

Enjoy:

Sergio Ch., “La Familia y las Guerras” official video

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

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Sergio Ch., 1974 (2015)

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Ararat Post “El Camino del Mono” Video from Cabalgata Hacia la Luz

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ARARAT

I’ve made no attempt to hide my fandom for Buenos Aires trio Ararat in the past, and neither will I do so now. Still, it’s something of a surprise, maybe to have a new video from the Argentine group show up at this point. Their most recent album, Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), was issued in 2014, and it’s been an another two years since their last clip showed up, that one for “Los Escombros de Jardin” (posted here). So what gives as regards the timing? Hell if I know. I’m just the guy who puts up posts. If you want scheduling, that’s a whole different department.

Of course, we know that Ararat frontman Sergio Chotsourian has kept plenty busy over the last several years between reissues from his former band, Los Natas, founding and developing the raw rock trio Soldati and embarking on a solo drone-folk career under his Sergio Ch. moniker across multiple releases. Add to that the fostering of continental output he does through his South American Sludge label and I guess it didn’t seem unreasonable to think Ararat were on the backburner at least for the time being if not permanently. One new video — this one for the track “El Camino del Mono” — doesn’t necessarily change that, and it doesn’t mean there’s a new record in the works or anything like that, but hell, at least it’s a signal that the band still exists. Bottom line is I’ll take it.

Ararat is comprised of Chotsourian on bass and vocals, guitarist Tito Fargo and drummer Alfredo Felitte. You can see “El Camino del Mono” below, and when/if I hear of more doings on the part of the band, I’ll keep you posted. you know the drill.

Enjoy the video in the meantime, and if you haven’t yet picked up Cabalgata Hacia la Luz, it’s never too late.

Dig:

Ararat, “El Camino del Mono” official video

New video premiere of Ararat “El Camino del mono”. directed by Martin Busacca!

VIDEO OFICIAL DEL DISCO DE ARARAT – “CABALGATA HACIA LA LUZ”
PRODUCIDO POR TITO FARGO
VIDEO DIRIGIDO POR MARTIN BUSACCA

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

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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

OUI OUI RECORDS
SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

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Ararat Post “Los Escombros de Jardin” Video; Cabalgata Hacia la Luz Vinyl Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ararat-photo-by-ymil-castelo

Buenos Aires trio Ararat have released their third and latest album, 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), as a limited-edition red vinyl through South American Sludge Records in a pressing of 500 copies. Not a lot of copies, in other words. The record — featuring cover art for which a red platter could not possibly be more appropriate, what with all the red and all — was in many ways a stripping down for the outfit led by bassist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian (Los Natas, his Sergio Ch. solo work, etc.), taking the thick-toned heavy psych of 2012’s II (review here) and shifting away from a focus on longer-form material and toward driving, classically engaging heavy rock and roll.

To that end, “Los Escombros de Jardin,” for which Ararat have newly issued a video to go with the Cabalgata Hacia la Luz vinyl, represents the album well. The song careens through its five-plus minutes, with Chotsourian, guitarist Tito Fargo and drummer Alfredo Felitte working at a full push throughout, winding into and out of a memorable chorus that speaks to a lot but not necessarily the entirety of what Cabalgata Hacia la Luz has to offer listeners. I’ve been somewhat curious as to Ararat‘s status as Chotsourian has spent the last year-plus seemingly more focused on his solo incarnation and getting the new trio Soldati up and running, but the video and LP seem like a pretty definitive answer that Ararat aren’t done quite yet, and so are all the more welcome.

More info, translated to the best of my/the internet’s ability, follows the clip below. Please enjoy:

Ararat, “Los Escombros de Jardin” official video

This video is a very important part of what the band proposed on “CABALGATA HACIA LA LUZ.”

It’s time we got to the point and place in our lives where there is no choice but to accept the past, the ruins and traces left by our way of living; The place where we are today, to become of force and the need to change things value.

Serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. Without silence our truths, “SPITTING FINALLY TO SAY WHAT YOU HAVE.”

“LOS ESCOMBROS DE JARDIN” is the new video of ARARAT, performed and directed by the Guzman brothers.

It is also the video release of the new “CABALGATA HACIA LA LUZ” LP edition, recently published by SOUTH AMERICAN RECORDS SLUDGE and manufactured in Germany in a limited edition of 500 copies translucent red.

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Sergio Ch. to Release New Album Aurora Next Month

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

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

Sergio Ch. – Guitarra & Vocals
Milagros Arrom – Guitarra & Metalofon

Grabado y mezclado por Sergio Ch. en Death Studios
Masterizado por Patricio Claypole en Estudio El Attic
Artwork por Sergio Ch.
Producido por Sergio Ch.

South American Sludge Records, Pirámide Records (2016)

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https://sergiochblog.wordpress.com/south-american-sludge-records/
https://sasrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Sergio Ch., 1974: Las Melodias

Posted in Reviews on June 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sergio ch 1974

It is not an exaggeration to say that Sergio Chotsourian is perhaps the most important figure in South American heavy rock and roll in the last 20 years. Since the mid-’90s, he has spread an influence outward from Buenos Aires, Argentina, first in early Natas releases like Delmar and Ciudad de Brahman, as well as through that band’s later work as Los Natas and into other acts like the more experimental trio Ararat, whose three albums to-date stand as testament to a broadening aesthetic palette. Further evidence of that comes in projects like the one-off Solodolor, the newly-formed Soldati, Chotsourian‘s soundtrack to the film Los Viajes, and his recent collaboration with his daughter, Isabel Chotsourian on a digital single featuring the track “La Sal y Arroz” (posted here).

That song is of clear personal significance — a full-band version also appeared on Ararat‘s latest, 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here) — and so it’s fitting that the solo rendition should lead off Chotsourian‘s first outing under the nom de plume Sergio Ch.1974. Self-recorded and issued through his own South American Sludge imprint, 1974 began life as a short digital collection of home demos, but was eventually branched out to a 52-minute/13-song full-length. In addition to “La Sal y Arroz,” it also shares “Las Piedras,” “La Historia de Hanuman,” “La Familia y las Guerras,” “Los Escombros del Jardin” and “Los Viajes” with the aforementioned most recent Ararat, so it’s probably fair to think of the two as companions, though in truth, Chotsourian‘s work has blended together from one release to the next over the better part of the last decade, as evidenced in the move from the last (to-date) Los Natas record, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here), into the self-titled Ararat debut (review here), along the same piano progression in 2009.

Piano is a key factor in the overall impression of 1974. Like John Lennon‘s Dakota demos, some of these tracks revolve around the minimal arrangements of piano and/or voice, as on the beginning of “Los Barcos,” or in “4737 Minutos” (that’s about 3.2 days), “Los Viajes” and the closing title-track. Even when not being played, the resonance of the piano seems to remain, whether it’s in bell chords or plucked notes on acoustic guitar in “Bed Room” or “Las Melodias,” or the subtly psychedelic echo on “Las Piedras” and the standout “Los Escombros del Jardin.”

sergio ch

Sergio Ch. brings in Walter Broide (Los Natas) and Alfredo Felitte (Ararat) to help on drums periodically and Milagros Arrom for a violin guest spot on “Los Barcos,” but otherwise 1974 is entirely his own, vocals, bass, guitar and the keys. He layers his voice depending on the song, resulting in varied atmospheres between built-out tracks like “La Sal y Arroz” and “Las Piedras” and more singular stretches like the minute-long “La Blusa,” a quick excursion of jangly slide guitar perhaps to lighten the atmosphere following “La Historia de Hanuman” and “La Familia y las Guerras,” which together typify the emotional weight under which a fair portion of the record is operating. These and “Los Barcos,” “4737 Minutos,” the rawer “Las Melodias” and “1974” create a melancholy crux, the wistfulness set forth in the opener built upon for the duration until the title-track seems to round out by cutting short having asked more questions than it answered. That, of course, is a guess, because the lyrics are in Spanish and that’s one of the many, many languages my ignorant ass doesn’t speak, but the prevailing impression comes through nonetheless of these tracks being as much an exploration of feelings as sonics.

As a result, 1974, like a lot of solo offerings, is deeply personal. Its sound is broad and expressive and gripping, enough so that one barely notices as elements like percussion, bass, violin, piano, etc., come and go and come again. These things are part of the overarching reach of Sergio Ch.‘s solo work, established here for the first time but definitely constructed from an ambience he’s brought to life in his bands before. The familiarity of some of this material bleeds through the different arrangements as well, and perhaps 1974 could come across as a richer listen for anyone who caught Cabalgata Hacia la Luz, but the other is by no means a prerequisite for the one. Though they share some songs, the two albums stand alone and the fluidity that Chotsourian brings to these tracks remains steady throughout the CD runtime.

That said, it’s easy — particularly given his track record for such things — to imagine that some of these songs might end up on future Chotsourian-related releases. Indeed they already have if one counts the Isabel y Sergio Ch. version of “La Sal y Arroz,” but even beyond that, fuller-arrangements of “Las Melodias” and “El Pastor de la Hormigas” seem by no means out of the question. Whether or not that happens — and if it does, with what project — of course will remain to be seen, but even if this stuff does continue to show up elsewhere, 1974 will remain a landmark in Chotsourian‘s catalog, because it’s the first full-length to bear his name alone and for the new sonic territory it covers in relation to his prior accomplishments. In mood, performance and execution, it engages on a richly human level.

Sergio Ch., 1974 (2015)

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