Ararat Post “02Kid” Video; Announce New Lineup

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 22nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

ararat 02kid

Just when you think you’ve got “02Kid” figured out, that’s when the keyboard hits. The first time I heard it, I thought a song started playing in a different browser tab or something, but no, it’s there, and as the emergently amorphous Buenos Aires-based outfit headed by Sergio Chotsourian (aka Sergio Ch.) move on from their 2023 fifth LP, La Rendición Del Hombre (review here), the new song comes coupled with word of a re-revamped lineup that brings Gaston Gullo to the drummer role and finds Chotsourian on bass and vocals alone, where the album also featured his work on guitar.

Change is nothing new for Ararat, and if you count the violin added to La Rendición Del Hombre by Federico Terranova or 2022’s Volumen IV (review here), this isn’t their first time as a duo either. As Chotsourian‘s post-Los Natas oeuvre has grown more experimental, from his acoustic-rooted solo work to varied projects like Ararat, Brno, Soldati, and so on, it’s not really a surprise to see that show up in Ararat‘s sound as it arguably has since their 2009 debut, Musica de la Resistencia (review here) — though that creative reach has gotten broader — but what is new here is the shape that takes. Stripped to its barest parts in bass and drums, much of “02Kid” feels like a rehearsal demo that effectively resets the band. They’ve gone to ground, aurally speaking.

But that’s fair enough too when the context is so open. That is to say, Chotsourian has covered a lot of ground with Ararat, from some of his heaviest, most doomed work to-date to the rawer rumble of Volumen IV, which feels relevant here in terms of the bass/drums construction of the band and a similar focus on low end and nod at the foundation. As to how “02Kid” might speak to what to expect from Ararat going forward, I won’t hazard a guess. It could be “02Kid” is part of an album already in the can — it would make a great candidate for the second of however many tracks included — or it could be a one-off to test out the chemistry of the Chotsourian/Gullo collaboration. All I know is it’s five minutes of new Ararat, there’s a video, and you’ll find it below.

It’s wait and see beyond that, but Chotsourian is prolific enough that it never seems egregiously long to find out where he’s headed next. Until then, enjoy:

Ararat, “02Kid” official video



Ararat, La Rendición Del Hombre (2023)

Ararat on Facebook

Sergio Ch. website

South American Sludge on Bandcamp

South American Sludge website

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Santoro Release Lost Delta Krieg Commando EP From 2005

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

In 2001, the three members of Buenos Aires heavy rockers Los Natas released their self-titled debut as Santoro, collaborating with frontman Jose “El Topo” Armetta, known for his work in the more metallic/aggressive Demonauta and Massacre. I guess after the record, both parties — the trio and Armetta — went back about their business, but there was a second album started in 2005, and now that’s been released as a five-songer EP called Delta Krieg Commando that hints at where the sophomore outing might’ve gone had it been completed.

It’s special to hear now in no small part because Los Natas seem to be the last band who ever existed not reuniting (even The Beatles put a song out last year), and so having Sergio Chotsourian, Walter Broide and Gonzalo Villagra together on a yet-unheard recording — even one that so raw — is welcome. After this, Chotsourian — now of solo work, Ararat, Soldati, BRNO, South American Sludge Records and various other projects and collabs — and Armetta would work together in the nascent, post-metallic outfit Venosidad (this post from 2009 links to their MySpace; fun), but at least nothing was ever made public. Who knows, maybe there are more CDRs in whichever box Sergio found these. Life’s short and mostly miserable. You gotta take what you can get.

And of course it hasn’t been that long since Chotsourian‘s latest solo release as Sergio Ch., as the single “Shesus Christ” (posted here) arrived in December. I’d point out that he’s working on new songs, but why even? He’s always working on new songs. That’s how you do this. Constantly.

Hail South American heavy:

santoro delta krieg commando

new release!
santoro ep
“delta krieg commando”
recorded circa 2005
3 unreleased songs + 2 songs in their original master cut

it was meant to be santoro’s second album, but never [finished]. i finally undusted the cdr master tapes and blew it out. los natas + el topo (local metal legend from bands massacre and dragonauta).

1. El Rey Del Miedo 05:35
2. the Warrior 03:25
3. Pompeya Drag Queen 05:33
4. Barridos Por El Viento 04:16
5. El Collar Del Perro 06:13

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Patricio Claypole at Estudio el Attic. Artwork by Sergio Ch. Produced by Patricio Claypole. South American Sludge Records.

Jose “el Topo” Armetta – Vocals
Sergio Ch. – Guitarra & Vocals
Gonzalo Villagra – Bass
Walter Broide – Bateria

Santoro, Delta Krieg Commando (2024)

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Album Review: Black Sky Giant, The Red Chariot

Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Black Sky Giant The Red Chariot

For the second orbit in a row, Rosario, Argentina, instrumentalists Black Sky Giant greet the New Year with the New Record. And so we climb aboard The Red Chariot. The turnover from 2022 into 2023, a year ago, brought the seemingly-anonymous, DIY-recording-and-releasing outfit’s fifth full-length, Primigenian (review here), which followed on from Jan. 2022’s End of Days Pilgrimage, so they’re well familiar with putting out new music in the industry’s traditional winter doldrums. To wit, they issued their fourth album, Falling Mothership in June 2021, but before that, there was Planet Terror in January of that same year, and I don’t know when in 2020 their debut, Orbiter, first came out, but the reissue was late Dec. 2021 (dates sourced from Bandcamp), which is close enough. Whatever their reason might be — or sometimes a band just falls into these patterns and there isn’t a reason — right now-ish seems to be their spot, and as habit breeds expectation it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that in Jan. 2025, they might have another 40-ish minutes of material behind which march into that unknown and distant-sounding future.

In the meantime, The Red Chariot invites the audience not only to appreciate how prolific Black Sky Giant have been over the last four-plus years — six LPs is nothing to sneeze at in that span, even if you’re not waiting on a lyricist and making it all yourself, etc. — but to process how their style has evolved in that relatively short period of time. Heavy psychedelia, post-rock, krautrock and prog have been factors since the outset, as a revisit to Orbiter will demonstrate, but The Red Chariot takes off with its title-track and harnesses a linear-coursing progressive fluidity that, with its effects wobbles, steady, maybe-programmed drums and root guitar figure coherent beneath the swirl, is a preface for the post-punk melancholic bounce of “A Timeless Oracle” and a hint at some of the spaces songs like “Submerged Towers” or the Euro-style meditative heavy riffing on “Electrical Civilization” will occupy.

Across eight songs and 38 minutes, Black Sky Giant hold firmly to that rhythmic flow that takes hold in “The Red Chariot,” and as the subsequent “Path” broadens the reach in its atmospheric, contemplative stretch, it’s lead guitar taking the place of vocals, but doing so with uncommon soulfulness and melodic expression. It’s not quite trying to sing lines, as some lead guitars do in no-singer units, but in the slow, echo-laced and foggy unfolding of “Path,” the guitar brings character to complement and contrast the heft of the bass that thickens up around three minutes in, and The Red Chariot isn’t through the first half of its first side before the band have managed to establish their presence and (part of their) intention, and it isn’t through its first three minutes before the willing listener is immersed.

As noted, “A Timeless Oracle” builds off the title-track and picks up from the sleepy, bluesy guitar layers that cap “Path” with an immediately decisive beat and shimmering guitar, quickly nestling into a verse that’s more The Cure than Kyuss (not complaining) and that builds to a quick head in its sub-three-minute run, but feels more like an idea being tried out than a fully-realized, fleshed-out piece like the side A finale “Illuminated by Reflection,” which follows, or the arranged-shortest-to-longest-but-it’s-all-dug-in progressive heavy psych that typifies The Red Chariot‘s back half.

Black Sky Giant guitar

Ambience is, has become, crucial, and while the underground sphere in which Black Sky Giant are operating might be under the grand and e’er-expanding umbrella of ‘Heavy,’ the wisps of Colour Haze-y guitar put to dramatic use across the slight Earth tinge of “Illuminated by Reflection” after “A Timeless Oracle” emphasizes the band’s ability to work in multiple niches at the same time. Thus the personality of The Red Chariot is built from its component songs, and it feels is all the more complete with “Submerged Towers” answering back to the delay-guitar and post-whathaveyou vibes of the opener and “A Timeless Oracle.” I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that “Submerged Towers” and “The Red Chariot” itself aren’t part of the same progression. If they’re not, or if one isn’t working off the other, they’re pretty close.

If the pattern would hold, with Black Sky Giant alternating back and forth between prog-psych and heavy-post-punk methodologies, the denser-seeming fuzz of “Electrical Civilization” would hold and flesh out as it does — it is marked by a midsection that dares to be pretty in a way rock can’t always manage before transitioning back to the central riff in a way that recalls earlier Tool — and “Augury” would answer in contradiction. That is not how they roll it out, however, as the penultimate “Augury” arrives with immediate prog-heavy clarity. The turn they’ve made instead is into the atmospheric heavy rock of “Path” and “Illuminated by Reflection,” and the personality of the guitar as it twists into verse lines at about a minute in is no less resonant than in the earlier tracks. Lead-style riffing carries through the midsection and into a broader finish, almost wistful or Southern in its layering, but as much as to auger is to foretell — and one might argue that each Black Sky Giant outing has been an auger for the progression of the next; I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the post-punk here is more manifest next time, but I’ll stop short of predicting — it comes across like a good time being remembered, perhaps as it happened.

Rounding out is the six-minute “In the Sight of the Mountain God,” which feels duly reverential, and if you’d look for sacred mountains, Argentina’s got plenty in its western Andes, among them Aconcagua, which is tallest in the Americas. Whatever burg hosts this particular deity, one assumes that like all gods, it prefers gradual tempos, tonal richness, and a sonic conversation with the ethereal offered through terrestrial means, and sure enough that’s the offering being made by Black Sky Giant, though a shift at three minutes in results in a minor redirection as a setup for the shred-into-the-fade ending. And the noisy finish is somewhat surprising given how controlled and thoughtful the band (who I assume is more than one person, but of course I could be wrong) have been up to that moment, but I suspect that the giving over to that more raucous impulse is the point, and so “In the Sight of the Mountain God” is a fit conceptually as well as in tone and mood.

A lot can and will happen before Jan. 2025 comes around, and it may be that one won’t hear from Black Sky Giant until then if they do another record, if that’s their plan at all. As it stands, the instrumental approach, the narrative slivers posted with the records, and the thematic stylization of the artwork draw The Red Chariot into the context of what Black Sky Giant do as representing their most forward-thinking outing to-date, but it’s clear that the pursuit-of-sound chase that’s brought them here will continue unabated as long as the band itself does.

Black Sky Giant, The Red Chariot (2024)

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Friday Full-Length: Humo Del Cairo, Vol. II

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 8th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Argentine heavy psych rockers Humo del Cairo released their second album, Vol. II (review here), in 2011 through Estamos Felices. That was a pretty quick turnaround for the Buenos Aires three-piece then comprised of guitarist/vocalist Juan Manuel Díaz (who co-produced with Alejandro Ortiz), bassist Gustavo Bianchi and drummer Federico Castrogiovanni, who welcomed the latter into the band as they followed-up their 2007 self-titled debut (review here), which came out through MeteorCity in 2010.

And with that basic background in your pocket and perhaps the audio of iron-ic opener “Fe” lumbering out its warm fuzzy beginnings in your ears, I’ll tell you that when this record hit, I thought Humo del Cairo were at the vanguard of a new generation of South American heavy. The next Los Natas? It’d be a few records before anyone knew for sure, but the 11-song/49-minute Vol. II — I know it’s Vol. 2 on the Bandcamp player; I’m going by the cover art in using the Roman numeral styling — showed the potential was there in a dynamic and growing approach, able to create an atmosphere like “Fe” with its languid psychedelic unfurling, seeming to barely hold together but revealing the solid ground it’s been on the whole time at about three and a half minutes into its total five.

Like much of what follows, it is vibrant in its live energy but spacious in sound, and in addition to bringing ideas from some of what was happening in the European heavy underground at the time into the context of their own work — whether that’s the influence of the Elektrohasch oeuvre heard in the general tonal warmth, or the twisting progressive groove of “Espada de Sal” that reminds as much of Spain’s Viaje a 800 as earliest Queens of the Stone Age or Natas, they also tapped into the kind of thrust on “Crinas” that speaks in part to what Sasquatch have done in the years since, and more to the point, they did it organically.

You didn’t turn on Vol. II and land at the atmospheric pairing of “El Alba (Parte A)” and “El Alba (Parte B)” because Humo del Cairo sat down and mathematically pinpointed the route you’d take, but because it’s where the flow from “Fe” and “Los Ojos” and “Tierra del Rey” takes you. I don’t think it ever came out on vinyl (yet; never say never in a world of future-generation-reissue excavations), but there’s a definite shift in methodology right around “Monte” on the other end of “Crinas” and the “El Alba” sequel that brings a moment of hypnotic contemplation with “Monte” and while it’s probably “Crinas” that would start side B — it’s the centerpiece of the digital version, and fair enough for its nod and melody — before the drums at the start of humo del cairo vol ii sq“Espada de Sal” reorient the flow toward the cyclical rhythm of the toms and the vocals, which even as a non-Spanish-speaker have a grounding effect, and the later roll is revealed.

They don’t stick around in that one riff long enough to make it an answer back to the ultra-catchy “Tierra del Rey” earlier, which is also the longest song at 6:50 and the album’s most fervent stomp, but the noisy wash and effects with which they cap “Espada del Sal” reinforces the idea of the band doing more than one single thing in the material. That is, there’s plenty of riffs throughout Vol. II — and no fewer as “Parte del Leon” looses its own after “Espada de Sal” — but there’s more depth to the material than a sole focus on riffing can convey.

In the sun-coated openness of “El Alba (Parte A)” and the ahead-of-its-time heavy blues ambience of the penultimate “Descienden de los Cielos,” which is mostly instrumental and hits into a vibe that’s drawing from Hendrix but wouldn’t be out of place from All Them Witches in its swaying fluidity, vocals off and on mic, and generally dug-in feel, Vol. II argues decisively for variety in Humo del Cairo‘s style, and they finish with a suitable summary in “Indios,” which saunters through its early verses, chorus and solo and ends up nestled into a riff at about 3:45 where the chug takes hold, and I don’t know if it’s how it actually happened, but it sounds like the entire band decided right then to line up around that part. They dig into it and add some lead flourish and feedback, eventually a solo, but the drums are committed and the bass is on board, so Humo del Cairo end with the jam on a long fade and are all the more a success in doing so for the unpredictable course that brought them there.

This was the last Humo del Cairo record. They offered up a pair of EPs in 2014 and while there’s word from years back on their socials of a posthumous outing, Epilogo, and at one point they even posted a track from it called “En las Cumbres,” since removed from their Bandcamp, where Vol. II and the self-titled were recently added, but that’s gone by now. Díaz released a four-song EP from a solo-project dubbed Sanador in 2017 and were working on an album thereafter, but then Humo del Cairo started doing shows again in 2018, so I won’t profess to know what the situation is or was, what it might be in the future, if this band might ever do anything else or if they’re done permanently. And all that stuff, while relevant, is secondary to the work they did during the early 2010s, which I do think had an impact on South American heavy and could easily have reached beyond that if the gringo-world underground could step over about a two-inch language barrier and give what’s been crafted its due. Not holding my breath there, but crazier things have for sure come to pass.

I hope you enjoy listening. This was a band that came my way during the short-lived reboot of MeteorCity — CDs in gatefold digipaks from outfits like Humo del CairoSnailLeeches of LoreNew Keepers of the Water TowersEgypt and Valkyrie, among others — that petered out circa 2012 but still had a significant impact on the thread of rock throughout the decade and of course the trajectories of the bands in question. I have no doubt that if Humo del Cairo got a third LP together, they’d nail it. And in a universe of infinite possibility, it could happen.

Thanks for reading.

Barring disaster between now and then, I and my family will spend next July 3 – Aug. 7 in and around Budapest, Hungary. You may or may not have seen I’ve mentioned a few times I’ve been taking language lessons — magyarul is a beautiful and hilariously complex language; if you’d take it on I hope you like suffixes — and it’s where my father’s side of my family emigrated from in the early 1900s. We’re not directly thinking of leaving the US now, but you never know and if I have a path to citizenship elsewhere, as it seems I do, then I want to pursue that as both principle and practicality. And probably at some point after I can express an idea so complex in the Hungarian language, I’ll actually begin what I understand is a years-long pursuit. Four weeks in town should help, but it’s a whole process, like everything.

It was a week. Things are hard enough that I barely did any substantive writing yesterday (the Mars Red Sky review was done Wednesday) and spent most of the morning and afternoon riding the Light Dragon in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which we’ve been playing as a family, harvesting shards of horns and scales and saving the acquisition of the Master Sword for The Pecan to do when she got home from school. Kid was stoked.

Which was a boon, because we’ve been in a pretty shitty spot the last couple weeks, and even as she seems to be making progress in school as regards hitting and all that, she comes home and absolutely wails on The Patient Mrs. and I. Sitting on the floor last night I got stomped on (on purpose) as she was on her way to the bathroom. She got distracted and didn’t make it, I yelled, she got there. Nobody felt good about anything. Half the time when it’s the three of us here I feel like I have to get up and leave the room. It’s not everything, and it’s not all the time, but when it’s been hard it’s been really fucking hard. And apparently the methylphenidate fucks with their sleep, so now she’s just awake and in our room all the time in the middle of the night and what the fuck did we spend six years hammering bedtime home for again?

A lot of things feel harder than they should. I’m burnt out. My patience is low. My general capacity is low. I have writing projects to do that I can’t get done. I can’t answer email. I lead an amazing life and have spent the last 30 fucking years miserable about it. Do you know how much time that is?

Monday I’m reviewing the Dopelord LP. Yeah, it’s late, but I had to allow a month’s extra time to compose the three sentences at the beginning of the post acknowledging the conflict of interest in reviewing an album I did the liner notes for when it was part of PostWax. Whatever. Next week also has new stuff from Warcoe — an album stream on Tuesday — a video premiere Wednesday from The Awesome Machine’s upcoming reissue on Ripple, and on Thursday an album stream for the ambient project Meditar, who are part of the sphere of Psychedelic Source Records (speaking of Hungary) and feature members of Pilot Voyager.

Did you stream the Mars Red Sky record yesterday? If so, I’d love your thoughts. I’ve sat with that record for a bit and gotten to know it, but I feel like the balance of familiar vs. new in the songs is right on and they’re bringing interesting ideas to the table. I don’t know. I like it.

It’ll be on the year-end list. When’s that happening? Either Tuesday Dec. 19 or the next day, I think. This weekend I’m working on another liner notes thing (as well as site stuff) and then will get the list set over the course of the week and start putting it all together. Biggest post of the year, every year. Takes a bit to build it up, but we’ll get there if years past are anything to go by.

And if you don’t remember, you can still check out the Best of 2022 and the Year-End Poll results that went up this past January, complete with all the lists that were sent in, just in case you’d like to fall down that rabbit hole for the entire day. It’s Friday. I offer a resounding “fuck it” in the direction of everything else.

Great and safe weekend. Have fun, hydrate, all that. See you Monday for that Dopelord review and more besides.


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Sergio Ch. Releases New Single “Shesus Christ”

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Maybe I’m crazy, but with the headphones on and Sergio Chotsourian backing his own strum with a bit of keyboard to anchor the measures of the song, I get just a little bit of the Rolling Stones in “Shesus Christ.” Not enough to be a defining feature or some such, but I’m not sure that’s something I’ve ever encountered in his output before. At this point, expecting anyone other than Chotsourian to define his own work — the odd cover aside — would be a misstep as regards the Buenos Aires-based figurehead of South American heavy, whose tenure in Los Natas helped unfurl a generation of other acts and whose solo output has grown into a stylistically open interpretation of emotional and atmospheric ideas that still, somehow, you can get away with calling folk.

One never knows quite what to expect — and at the risk of repeating myself, that’s the fun of it — and in part for that, and in part because he does what he does, Chotsourian is someone for whom and for whose work I have a deep respect. Obviously I came to the catalog through Los Natas, but that’s the beginning of a world waiting to be explored, and he’s only grown more adventurous in sound since that band was laid to rest. He’s also busy as well. Soldati have a recent collection I’m pretty sure. There’s always a steady stream of Natas reissues — even capitalism has its upsides — and Ararat are back at it as well. All this concurrent to solo stuff makes Chotsourian a singular figure in the heavy underground the world over. It’s not just about being prolific, or having longevity, or trying different styles. It’s all of that and the will behind the creative growth that I find inspirational.

The song is at the bottom of this post, both the Bandcamp stream from which you might be inclined to launch your own excursion into the Sergio Ch.-sphere, and the video that was put together by the man himself. Because after everything else, of course.

Please enjoy:

Sergio Ch Shesus Christ

[S.A.S. 128]




Sergio Ch., “Shesus Christ” official video

Sergio Ch., “Shesus Christ”

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Album Review: IAH, V

Posted in Reviews on November 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

iah v

Digitally released by the Argentina trio and due for a vinyl issue in early 2024 through Kozmik Artifactz, the fifth release from IAH, titled simply V, finds the band recommitting to their core approach while at the same time expanding their reach. The instrumentalist outfit with the returning lineup of guitarist/synthesist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco Borlera and drummer José Landín have both pulled back into themselves as compares to 2021’s Omines (review here), which boasted collaborations with members of Poland’s Spaceslug and guest strings and was over an hour long. Two years later, IAH are able to transpose progressive textures onto their heavy riffing roots as 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Kutno” makes its impression with sharp snaps of snare and guitar/bass chug after the synthy drone intro and moves in its second half to a hypnotic and languid stretch of psychedelic contemplation before reality interrupts at 8:21 and they bookend with heavier chugging topped with a solo.

Precision and looseness. Tension and release. Severity and soothing. The band, who once again worked with co-producer Mario Carnerero at Gran Rosa Estudio, have made these essential components since their 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here), and recalls that dynamic early, with hints dropped toward progressive metal but an offsetting circle around in the central riff of “Kutno” that keeps the groove rolling. To leadoff your record with a song that takes up nearly a quarter of its 41-minute runtime is no minor choice, but IAH have a history in that regard, though “Kutno” stands out for being more relatively extended than, say, closer “Las Palabras y el Mar” at 8:45, than some other long-openers have been in the past.

What does song length tell you in this case? Primarily how long the song is. To find out just about anything else requires hearing. “Madre de los Suspiros” follows “Kutno” with a creeper line of guitar and vague whispers of noise, cymbal crashes and an emergent movement at about a minute in that is both densely weighted and hypnotic. A threatening chug is complemented by higher plucked lead notes, but those soon are swallowed by the maw of the riff brought by the next change; a declining lumber that opens to a more hopeful sans-vocal hook that it makes positively swaggering by second time through, thud of drums and echoing tones giving spaciousness that feels well earned, another late solo taking hold to sort of expand the back half as they wind down what feels like a statement of who they are as a band made to themselves as well as their audience.

A little Karma to Burn in that midsection’s willfully straightforward riffing? Maybe. But by digging as deeply as they are into their style — by doubling-down as they are, particularly after the branching out of Omines — they own it. Listening to V, IAH sound poised and confident in what they’re doing. It’s their fourth LP, and as they shift from “Madre de los Suspiros” into the quiet outset of the eight-minute “Yaldabaoth,” which follows a similar structure to “Kutno” with grounded chug shifting into a calmer middle building to an apex, but in “Yaldabaoth,” that crescendo takes the form of post-rock shimmer-sprawl, evocative even as the drums beneath keep a decent clip, and ending to fit easily with the standalone echoing guitar piece “Sono io!” (1:44), an interlude and presumed side B intro that offers emotional presence and a breather moment before the blindside punch of chug from “Sentado en el Borde de una Pregunta.”

The penultimate cut on the six-tracker brings together the chug that’s been there all the while with a more insistent thrust in the drums, feeling urgent in its first half as it touches on proggier rhythmmaking without giving up the heavy nod, until at 2:46 a crash and stop brings standalone bass deep in the mix, soon enough joined by the drums and atmospheric guitar drawn overtop. While striking on paper, the suddenness of that change when one is actually hearing the album is hardly jarring. IAH simply going from one place to another. They’ve done it several times throughout V by “Sentado en el Borde de una Pregunta,” and the intensity of their return — the album’s genuine breakout-and-run moment — is a payoff serving for more than just the lone track in question. They carry it into a long fade and synth arrives to guide the transition into “Las Palabras y el Mar,” which resets to softer guitar at its beginning.

In the incorporation of synthesizer here, IAH highlight the ambience of V and their style generally while finding a new outlet for it. “Las Palabras y el Mar” plays with the underlying structure of the tracks a bit, with a flowing start shifting into heavier guitar before three minutes in, and even as it solidifies into a chug, much of the (relative) shove behind “Sentado en el Borde de una Pregunta” has dissipated, and a meta-echo — also some real echo — of the post-rock vibe in “Yaldabaoth” reinforces the idea of cognizance on the part of the band. Which is to say, they know what they’re doing. V‘s finale drops the heft in its second half, brings some back for a not-overblown epilogue, and end with melancholy standalone guitar, resonant with effects or synth behind it and consistent in terms of mood with much of what precedes.

This is a band who have found their sound, who know it, and who have purposefully set themselves to refining it and exploring around it while holding to the sphere they’ve marked as their own. One of V‘s greatest appeals is that it paints a sustainable portrait of what they do. With five offerings in six years, IAH have worked at a prolific pace up to now and there’s nothing to say that won’t continue, but V is mature and set in itself in a way that a first or second, even a third record generally can’t be, and that maturity includes the sense of ongoing creative evolution. The synth here is an easy example, and it might be that synth becomes more of a factor in the future and it might not, but that sensibility extends to the dynamic and chemistry between the members of IAH as well as to the places their material is willing to go and the textures being explored. They have never yet been so much their own thing as they are here.

IAH, V (2023)

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Review & Album Stream: Apollo80 & Dimartis, Reverberations Vol. 1 – Tales of Dust and Winds Split LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Apollo80 Dimartis Reverberations Vol 1 Tales of Dust and Wings

Australian jammers Apollo80 and Argentinian desert explorers Dimartis are launching a new split series for Sound Effect Records. Titled simply ‘Reverberations,’ with its first installment titled less simply, Reverberations Vol. 1 – Tales of Dust and Winds, the 38-minute long-player lays out the message of geography’s irrelevance when it comes to the heavy. Everywhere might have its own take — informed by local folk traditions or very actively not, depending on the band and situation — but if you’re on Planet Earth, heavy music is just about everywhere. In celebrating this, Sound Effect Records offer a timely reminder that human beings are the same — well timed with now two wars hot in Europe — and that creative expression and the language of music through which it’s happening here know neither gods nor borders nor walls. Whatever shape is ultimately taken, they are free-flowing. They belong to everyone.

As an art form, the split LP is very much not broken. And of all the ways one might find out about a band, it’s among the most personal of endorsements. I’ve never heard Dimartis, but I’m familiar with Apollo80. With the added apollo80 boost of curation on the part of Sound Effect Records — though Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds also run split series — the two bands are essentially championing each other’s work. Some splits are done for a tour; two bands getting together on a 7″ for the merch table. Some are on a theme. Sides A and B here are so dug into the spirit of the jam that the revelry itself seems to be the driving purpose. Each complements the other, and as Apollo80 set out with the multi-movement single piece “Null Arbor” (19:54) and Dimartis follow with three songs arranged together across 18:47 in “Los Altares,” “Circulos” and “Humo,” the procession is immersive and easy to lose oneself within, “Null Arbor” building to a cosmic apex over its first seven minutes or so before resolving in a big and not completely un-tense chill, gradually swelling in volume again as it moves through its midpoint and into heavier riffing after 10 minutes in.

They’re not shy about the cacophony once they get there, and Apollo80 continue to ride that crescendo for the next minute-plus before starting the comedown process that, with the guitar in the lead spot, unfolds languidly but not lazily or any more meandering than it wants to be. Just past 15 minutes in, they nestle into a swirl of wah that creates a steady current of noise to go with the heavier repetitions that finish in the fadeout, and with a side flip, Dimartis answer patience with patience in the gradual rollout of “Los Altares,” which like “Humo” to come touches on heavy post-rock, but is coming from a place more akin to desert psychedelia, as they show in each of their three inclusions at some point or other, whether it’s the instrumentalist takeoff in “Los Altares,” the heady, kind of downer roll in “Circulos” becoming a march after its midsection and a meditative heavy that echoes My Sleeping Karma at their weightiest, with just the barest edge of post-hardcore dramaturge in the riff for good measure.

“Circulos” crashes and moves into a more subdued fluidity, ending after 13:20 with silence for space between it and the closer “Humo,” which caps Reverberations Vol. 1 – Tales of Dust and Winds with shimmer and float at its beginning. Soon enough, the heavier riff enters and Dimartis carry it through to a last-minute tempo kick that’s part desert but especially emerging from the movement it does is weirder and broader than one thinks of the style’s post-Kyuss flourishing, well placed to meet the end of the record, but not necessarily a huge blowout finish so much as where they decided it was time to leave the journey in progress. You know that math theory that says every time you draw a line, that line is infinite and it just keeps going forever, even if you only drew just a teeny-tiny bit? Reverberations Vol. 1 – Tales of Dust and Winds feels like it’s still playing somewhere when it’s over, even if I can’t hear. To me, that speaks to the idea of resonance and evocation in psychedelic music, but that’s only part of the appeal here alongside the bare heft and flashes of cosmic pulse.

How well these two might’ve known each other prior to sharing space on this platter, I don’t know, but around basic commonalities of form, Dimartis and Apollo80 present individual approaches to adventurous heavy psych, each outfit with a chemistry of their own that makes the other stronger. If that’s not the ideal, I don’t know what is, and in a universe with myriad ways in which one might discover music, from social media word-of-mouth to shitheel blogs like this one to algorithmic suggestions on endless playlists, the split retains a singular presence in the spectrum of releases. I’m glad as hell I got to hear this one.

You might be too. It premieres in full on the player below. Please enjoy.

Sound Effect Records presents the release of REVERBERATIONS, a new split series with the intention of delivering bands across the planet sonically united by a musical common ground.

The first instalment, called TALES OF DUST AND WINDS sees the Western Australians APOLLO80 joining forces with the Argentinian-Patagonians DIMARTIS to take us on a trip through desertic landscapes made of winds, cold sunsets and naked rocks.

The Australians, now at the third chapter with Sound Effect Records, offer a 20-min long desert/ kosmische one-riffer cavalcade in pure Can / Neu tradition but with a heavy twist that will please the lovers of long instrumental trips. Turn the LP and you’ll find Dimartis (10 years on the scene and surprisingly at their debut on vinyl) with three tracks beautifully arranged balancing silences and reverbs that evoke the milestones of desert rock.

Really an excellent concept aiming to take us travelling through the Australian bush and the Patagonian flats with two bands that squeezed all their local authenticity in every groove.

The LP release is planned for November 10th, on classic black and limited sea blue vinyl.

Apollo80 is:
Luke – guitar/throat/synth
Brano – bass/voice
Shane – drums

Dimartis es :
Chino Velazquez : Bateria
Luciano Pucheta : Bajo/Recs
Nazareno Ferro : Guitarra/Drones

Apollo80 on Facebook

Apollo80 on Bandcamp

Dimartis on Facebook

Dimartis on Bandcamp

Sound Effect Records on Facebook

Sound Effect Records on Bandcamp

Sound Effect Records website

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IAH to Release New Album V This Sunday

Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Whatever else you might have on this weekend, you may want to take some time on Sunday to hit up a brand new album from increasingly progressive instrumentalist trio IAH. The band sent word through their Bandcamp page last night that they’ll release their new album, V, on Nov. 5. Last heard from with 2021’s Omines (review here), which was released through Kozmik Artifactz and featured a collaboration with members of Poland’s Spaceslug, the Argentinian three-piece toured in Europe earlier this year to support — I’m still somewhat surprised to think I’ve seen them (review here), which is genuinely not something I ever believed I would do; I was tired, but that was a good-ass day — making their second trip across the Atlantic following an initial go in 2019.

As for what to expect on V, I have some thoughts but they’re pretty general. To wit, IAH have been dug into a purposeful creative progression since their 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here) and 2018’s first-full-length follow-up, II (review here). Omines came quickly after 2020’s III (review here), but the sense of growth was palpable in the material through more than just the inclusion of vocals, and as far as hopes or expectations go, I’d think another forward step would be the thing — maybe somewhat in a darker mood, given the apparent cover art below — but you never know. Dudes could’ve gone polka metal and not told anyone. You can’t be too careful with these surprise album releases.

They don’t have any songs up yet, but uh, I think you can handle three days’ wait. Unless you’re six years old, in which case, good job reading. Go get a Rolo.

From the band:

iah v

We’re excited to share that on November 5th, we’ll be dropping our new album “V,” and we’d love for you to be there to give it a listen!

Big shoutout to all of you, and a huge thanks for your ever-support.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November…

IAH is:
Juan Pablo Lucco Borlera: Bass
Mauricio Condon: Guitar
José Landín: Drums

IAH, Omines (2021)

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