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)

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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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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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Friday Full-Length: Los Natas, München Sessions

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 6th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, I know I closed a week with Los Natas like four months ago. Whatever. I don’t care. I’ll do the whole catalog eventually. Today is München Sessions. If you saw that and were going to call me on repeating myself, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for paying attention.

Moving on.

In 2003, pivotal Buenos Aires-based heavy rockers Los Natas would have been supporting 2002’s Corsario Negro on tour in Europe, as well as the 2003 and 2004 Toba Trance duology of exploratory psych that, well, maybe in another couple months it’ll close out another week because sometimes you go on a kick. Either way, also ripe for revisit.

It’s funny to write about a record in long-ago hindsight that I remember writing about 18 years ago when it came out in 2005. I got the CD of München Sessions from German imprint Elektrohasch Schallplatten. It was a 2CD, with the 12 tracks — the corresponding Oui Oui Records edition from Argentina edits that down to seven, omitting “Trilogia,” “El Cono del Encono” “Nada,” “Corsario Negro Loco” and “Traicion en el Arrocero,” I’m not entirely sure why — arranged in programs à la vinyl sides, and featured cuts from across their then-discography. Here’s the full 12-track version, with the album the song first appeared on in brackets:

Los Natas, München Sessions:
1. Soma [Delmar]
2. 13 [Ciudad de Brahman]
3. El Negro [Delmar]
4. Tormenta Mental [2003 7″]
5. Trilogia [Delmar]
6. El Cono Del Encono [Corsario Negro]
7. Nada [Ciudad de Brahman]
8. Polvareda [Ciudad de Brahman]
9. Corsario Negro Loco [Corsario Negro]
10. Traición En El Arrocero [Toba Trance]
11. Humo de Marihauna [Corsario Negro]
12. Tomaiten (Jamm Aleman)

You’ll note that the last inclusion, the 19-minute “Tomaiten (Jamm Aleman)” — the title translates to ‘Tomatoes (German Jam)” — is the only one that doesn’t actually come from a prior Los Natas release. I don’t know how the trio — guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian, bassist Gonzalo Villagra, drummer Walter Broide — wound up in the studio with engineer Tim Höfer, but they did, and at the end of the full half-hour-plus set, for that final jam they brought in Colour Haze‘s Stefan Koglek (who also ran and still runs Elektrohasch, if less actively) for a guest spot on guitar and vocals.

So in addition to a live-in-studio LP, München Sessions features a to-date once-in-a-lifetime meeting of two pinnacle heavy rock guitarists of their generation. Chotsourian is widely acknowledged as an essential figurehead in Argentine and greater South American heavy as a whole, and though their styles of play are different between the punk metal and the hippie prog, Koglek is in a similar position, having played a large role in establishing heavy psychedelia as a sound distinct from both the heavy and the psych that comprise it.

Just the idea that these two would ever share air in the same room while holding guitars is exciting, but the 19-minute “Tomaiten (Jamm Aleman)” is a three-tiered adventure in sound that is well placed as the culmination of a righteous showcase. Both are tonally and stylistically present, Chotsourian‘s fuzz sharper at the edges and recognizable from the earlier hooky thrust of “Tormenta Mental” or the psychedelic twist-around of “13” after “Soma” opens, the latter taken from the band’s 1996 debut, Delmar (discussed here), which I’ll gladly argue as one of the best heavy rock albums ever made.

The sweep at the start of “Tomaiten (Jamm Aleman)” makes immersion that much quicker, the two guitars feeling their way through the buildup as Koglek solos and Chotsourian riffs, the latter stepping forward in a stop shortly before three minutes in to establish what will be the signature riff of the piece, echoed later, but changed into something else after 10-plus minutes of exploration as a four-piece unit. Chotsourian and Koglek both sing. There are early verses from the former, or at least lines arranged in rhythm over the off-the-cuff instrumental progression behind, and Koglek and Broide both seem to contribute backing vocals, Koglek circling around a vocal part over a solo before Chotsourian rejoins during a driving, classic Los Natas push.

Shifting through those initial movements, the group arrive at the nine-minute mark and mellow out for a while, Chotsourian still singing a bit, the words in Spanish with a bit of reverb added. There’s a decisive stop in the drums after 10:30 with just guitar and voice, the Koglek rejoins subtly, and that’s a joy in itself, but it’s when Villagra joins that the movement takes shape. The bass comes in not playing the same part but a different interpretation — not quite a new movement, but almost — and that reinvigorates both guitars. Broide comes back in on drums and soon they’re dug into a riff that’s like a paean to stoner rock from players who helped define it, the entire band — yes, a band — comfortable in the swing and stomp of that groove.

Once they lock in again they remain that way for the duration. This was all done in one day; Oct. 13, 2003. That’s 20 years ago next weekend. The Los Natas tracks and the jam that was likely carved out of a longer take but still preserves a special moment in the tenure of Los Natas (and of Colour Haze, for that matter). I would eventually get to see Los Natas on tour in Europe in 2010, at the Roadburn Festival (review here), and the vitality of “Polvareda” and the swagger in “13” on München Sessions effectively translates to a studio setting, the Oui Oui Records edition — I was going to include the second tracklist but it seemed like too much; here’s an image — starting with “Humo de Marihuana” where the Elektrohasch one starts, giving a different character to each version with two highlights of tone.

Of course, Los Natas effectively called it quits in 2013 and in the aftermath Chotsourian has pursued a number of projects, Ararat, Soldati, solo work under the moniker Sergio Ch.Brno, and other outfits and collaborations, in an ongoing exploration of sounds drawing from rock to doom to punk to folk to psych and any and/or all of them mixed together in various conglomerations. They’re not overly likely to reform, and somehow knowing that makes me even gladder they wound up in Munich that day.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I will not lie to you or mince words: that fucking Quarterly Review was hard to get through. Most of that is because of organizational stuff on the back end, the importing and arrangement of outbound links, embedded players, images, and so on. But I would say three of the five days were tougher as well because I had other stuff going on that was not happening in front of my computer, and that was a challenge. The kid had to go to school, the dog had to go to the vet. I had to go to Hungarian class. Did I mention I’m trying to learn to speak Hungarian?

My father’s family emigrated from Hungary. My great grandfather, I think. Came right to Morris County, NJ, where I grew up and currently reside. Because of that generational connection (and if it was further back this wouldn’t be the case), I’m in a position where I can hopefully begin a process of gaining Hungarian citizenship.

Why Hungarian citizenship? Well, Europe’s badass and I’d have a much easier time getting there with an EU passport. We’re also looking at traveling to Hungary next summer for a few weeks’ stay. And basically it’s kind of our we-need-to-flee backup plan for what happens when American democracy falls to fascism — just in case — sometime in the next 10 years. Seems like silly, low-stakes liberal panic until you look at the bills being proposed in state legislatures around the country concerning the rights of trans kids and other gender-queer individuals. No, Hungary is not a beacon of progressive thought, but with American political candidates openly embracing christofascist white supremacist ideologies and paralyzing the government to get their way, I’d rather be safe than shot in the face by my rifle-toting right-winger neighbor for having a trans flag hanging outside the house. These are horrifying times. And Hungarian is hard. Really hard. But it’s also fun using my brain in a way I haven’t in a long time.

So yes, that.

But to go back to the above, yeah, that Quarterly Review. I don’t know what the answer is there. It’s always so difficult to make those happen, and there was so much ELSE this week that I wanted to cover but couldn’t because I’d booked that. I guess I’m pissed at having missed the Mars Red Sky video — it’ll go up Monday, so not a permanent thing — and being late on the Slift news, but the hours I had in the days of this week were spoken for, and once you start one of those things the only way out is through. This afternoon, when I go through and take 50 records off my desktop and put them in the stuff-that-was-covered folder, I’ll be glad to have been productive. Getting to that point, though. God damn.

Next week, then, is some form of return to normalcy. In addition to the Mars Red Sky video, I’ve got a Travo full stream on Monday, a King Potenaz video on Tuesday, a long-overdue Mondo Drag review on Wednesday, a video premiere for All Are to Return on Thursday and an Oslo Tapes video premiere on Friday. Packed. Another week. Lot of writing. Lot of riffs.

But I’ve also got new records from Green Lung and Lamp of the Universe to listen to, and that gul-dern Howling Giant album that I can’t seem to put down for an entire day. So I’ll be fine.

Have a great and safe weekend. Hydrate, watch your head. Gonna rain here, which sucks, but I hope you’re good and that you don’t mind Los Natas showing up again here so soon. They’re one of my favorite bands. Sometimes it’s nice to dig in. Your understanding and patience are appreciated as always. Thanks for reading.


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Quarterly Review: Maggot Heart, Catatonic Suns, Sacri Suoni, Nova Doll, Howl at the Sky, Fin del Mundo, Bloody Butterflies, Solar Sons, Mosara, Jupiter

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Wednesday, huh? I took the dog for a walk this morning. We do that. I’ve been setting the alarm for five but getting up before — it’s still better than waking up at 4AM, which is a hard way to live unless you can go to bed at like 8 on the dot, which I can’t really anymore because kid’s bedtime, school, and so on — and taking Tilly for a walk around the block and up the big hill to start the day. Weather permitting, we do that walk three times a day and she does pretty well. This morning she didn’t want to leave the Greenie she’d been working on and so resisted at first, but got on board eventually.

In addition to physical movement being tied to emotional wellbeing — not something I’m always willing to admit applies to myself, but almost always true; I also get hangry or at least more easily overwhelmed when I’m hungry, which I always am because I have like seven eating disorders and am generally a wreck of a person — the dog doesn’t say much and it’s pretty early and dark out when we go, so I get a quiet moment out under the moon going around the block looking up at Venus, Jupiter, a few stars we can see through the suburban light pollution of the nearby thoroughfares. We go up part of the big hill, have done the full thing a couple times, but she’s only just three-plus months, so not yet really. But we’re working on it, and despite Silly Tilly’s fears otherwise, her treat was right where we left it on the rug when we got back. And she got to eat leaves, so, bonus.

There are minutes in your day. You can find them. You can do it. I’m not trying to be saccharine or to bullshit you. Life is short and most of it is really, really difficult, so take whatever solace you can get however you can get it. Let’s talk about records.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Maggot Heart, Hunger

maggot heart hunger

This is Maggot Heart‘s third record and they’re still a surprise. It can be jarring sometimes to encounter something that edges so close to unique within the underground sphere, but the Berlin outfit founded/fronted by Linnéa Olsson (ex-The Oath, ex-Grave Pleasures, ex-Sonic Ritual) offer bleak and subversively feminine post-punk informed by black metal on Hunger, and as she, bassist Olivia Airey and drummer Uno Bruniusson (ex-In Solitude, etc.), unfurl eight tracks of arthouse aggro and aesthetic burn, one can draw lines just as easily with “Nil by Mouth” or the later “Looking Back at You” to mid-’70s coke-strung New York poetic no wave and the modern European dark progressive set to which Maggot Heart have diligently contributed over the last half decade. The horn sounds on “LBD” are a nice touch, and “Archer” puts that to work in some folk-doom context, but in the tension of “Concrete Soup” or the avant garde setting out across the three minutes of the leadoff semi-title-track “Scandinavian Hunger,” Maggot Heart demonstrate their ability to knock the listener off balance as a first step toward reorienting them to the atmosphere the band have honed in these songs, slightly goth on “This Shadow,” bombastic in the middle and end of “Parasite,” each piece set to its own purpose adding some aspect to the whole. You wouldn’t call it easy listening, but the challenge is part of the fun.

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Catatonic Suns, Catatonic Suns

Catatonic Suns Catatonic Suns

Adjacent to New Psych Philly with their homebase in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and with a self-titled collection that runs between the shoegazing shine of “Deadzone,” the full-fuzz brunt of “Slack” or “Inside Out,” the three-minute linear build of “Fell Off” made epic by its melody, and the hooky indie sway of advance single “Be as One,” the trio Catatonic Suns make a quick turnaround from their 2022 sophomore LP, Saudade, for the lysergic realization and apparent declaration of this eight tracks/31 minutes. With most cuts punkishly short and able to saunter into the noise-coated jangle of “Failsafe” or the wash of “Sublunary” — speaking of post-punk — Catatonic Suns eventually land at closer “No Stranger,” which tops eight minutes and comprises a not-insignificant percentage of the total runtime. And no, they aren’t the first heavy psych band to have shorter songs up front and a big finale, but the swirling layered triumph of “No Stranger” carries a breadth in its immersive early verses, mellow, sitar-laced midsection jam and noise-caked finish and comes across very much as what Catatonic Suns has been building toward all the while. The same might be true of the band, for all I know — it seems to be the longest piece they’ve written to-date — but either way, put them on the ‘Catatonic Voyage’ tour with Sun Voyager for two months crisscrossing the US and never look back. Big sound, and after three full-lengths, significant potential.

Catatonic Suns on Instagram

Agitated Records website

Sacri Suoni, Sacred is Not Divine

Sacri Suoni Sacred is Not Divine

Densely weighted in tone, brash in its impact and heavy, heavy, heavy in atmosphere, Sacri Suoni‘s second album together and first under their new moniker (they used to be called Stoned Monkey; kudos on the change), Sacred is Not Divine positions itself as a cosmic doom thesis and an exploration of the reaches and impacts to be found through collaborative jamming. Four songs make it — “Doom Perspection of the Astral Frequency 0-1” (8:15), “Six Scalps for Six Sounds” (10:28), “Cult of Abysmus” (13:15) and “Plutomb, Engraved in Reality” (8:02) — and as heavy has they are (have I mentioned that yet?) there is dynamic at play as well in the YOB-ish noodles and strums at the start of “Six Scalps for Six Sounds” or in “Cult of Abysmus” around the 10-minute mark, or in the opener’s long fade, but make no mistake, the mission here is heft and space and the Milano outfit have both in ready supply. I think “Plutomb, Engraved in Reality” has maybe three riffs? Might be two, but either way, it’s enough. The character in this material is defined by its weight, but there are three dimensions to their style and all are represented. If you listen on headphones, try really hard not to pulverize your brain in the process.

Sacri Suoni on Facebook

Zanns Records website

Nova Doll, Denaturing

nova doll denaturing

Earthy enough in tone and their slower rolling moments to earn an earliest-Acid King comparison, Barrie, Ontario’s Nova Doll are nonetheless prone to shifting into bits of aggro punk, as in “Waydown” or “Dead Before I Knew It,” the latter of which closes their debut album, Denaturing, the very title of the thing loaded with context beyond its biochemical interpretations. That is, if Nova Doll are pissed, fair enough. “California Sunshine” arrives in the first half of the seven-song/29-minute long-player, with rhythm kept on the toms, open drones and a vastness that speaks at least to some tertiary affect of desert rock on their sound. Psychedelia comes through in different forms amid the crunch of a song like “Mabon,” or “California Sunshine,” and the bassy centerpiece near-title-track feels willfully earthbound — not complaining; they’re that much stronger for changing it up — but the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Casey Cuff, bassist Sean Alten and drummer Daniel Allen ride that groove in “Denaturation” like they already know the big spaceout in “Light Her Up” is coming. And they probably did, given the apparent care put into what is sometimes a harsh presentation and the variety they bring around the central buzz that seems to underscore the songs. Grown-up punk, still growing, but their sound is defined and malleable in its noisy approach on their first full-length, and that’s only encouraging.

Nova Doll on Instagram

Tarantula Tapes website

Black Throne Productions website

Howl at the Sky, In Line for the End Times

Howl at the Sky In Line for the End Times

With their self-released debut album, In Line for the End Times, hard-driving single-guitar four-piece Howl at the Sky enter the field with 12 songs and a CD-era-esque 55-minute run that filters through a summary of decades of heavy rock and roll influences. From their native state of Ohio alone, bands like Valley of the Sun and Lo-Pan, or Tummler and Red Giant a generation ago — these and others purveying straight-ahead heavy rock light on tricks and big on drive. More metal in their riffy underpinnings than some, certainly less than others, they foster hooks whether it’s a three-minute groover like “Stink Eye” and opener “Our Lady of the Knives” or the more spacious “Dry as a Bone” and the penultimate “Black Lung,” which has a bit more patience in its sway than the C.O.C.-circa-’91 “The Beast With No Eyes” and modernize ’70s vibes in the traditions of acts one might find on labels like Ripple or Small Stone. That is, rock dudes, rockin’. Vocalist Scott Wherle bears some likeness to We’re All Gonna Die‘s Jim Healey early on, but both are working from a classic heavy rock and metal foundation, and Wherle has a distinguishing, fervent push behind him in guitarist Mike Shope, bassist Scot “With One ‘T'” Fithen and drummer John Sims. For as long as these guys are together, I wouldn’t expect too many radical departures from what they do here. Once a band has its songwriting down like this, it’s really more just about letting grow on its own over time rather than forcing something, and the sense they give in listening is they know that too.

Howl at the Sky on Facebook

Howl at the Sky on Bandcamp

Fin del Mundo, Todo Va Hacia el Mar

Fin del Mundo Todo Va Hacia el Mar

The first two four-song EPs by Buenos Aires psych/post-rock four-piece Fin del Mundo — guitarist/vocalist Lucia Masnatta, guitarist Julieta Heredia, bassist Julieta Limia, drummer/backing vocalist Yanina Silva — wander peacefully through a dreamy apocalypse compiled together chronologically as Todo Va Hacia el Mar, the band’s Spinda Records first long-player. From “La Noche” through “El Fin del Mundo,” what had been a 2020 self-titled, the tones are serene and the melodies drift without getting lost or meandering too far from the songs’ central structure, though that last of them reaches broader and heavier ground, resonance intact. The second EP, 2022’s La Ciudad Que Dejamos, the LP’s side B, has more force behind its rhythms and creates a wash in “El Próximo Verano” to preface its gang-vocal moment, while closer “El Incendio” takes the Sonic Youth-style indie of the earlier material and fosters more complex melodicism around it and builds tension into a decisive but not overblown resolution. It’s 34 minutes long and even between its two halves there’s obvious growth on the part of the band being showcased. Their next long-player will be like a second debut, and I’ll be curious how they take on a full-length format having that intention in the first place for the material.

Fin del Mundo on Facebook

Spinda Records website

Bloody Butterflies, Mutations and Transformations

Bloody Butterflies Mutations and Transformations

A pandemic-born project (and in some ways, aren’t we all?), the two-piece instrumentalist unit Bloody Butterflies — that’s guitarist/bassist Jon Howard (Hordes) and drummer August Elliott (No Skull) — released their first album, Polymorphic, in 2020 and emerge with a follow-up in the seven tracks/27 minutes of the on-theme Mutations and Transformations, letting the riffs do their storytelling on cuts like “Toilet Spider” and “Frandor Rat,” the latter of which may or may not be in homage to a rat living near the Kroger on the east side of Lansing. The sound is punker raw and as well it should be. That aforementioned ratsong has some lumber to its procession, but in the bassy “Fritzi” that follows, the bright flashes of cymbal in opener “BB Theme” (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) and the noisy declaration of post-doom stomp before the feedback at the end of “Wormhole” consumes all and the record ends, they find plenty of ways to stage off monochromatism. Actually, what I suspect is they’re having fun. At least that’s what it sounds like, in a very particular way. Fair enough. It would be cool to have some clever lesson learned from the pandemic or something like that, but no, sometimes terrible shit just happens. Cool for these two getting a band out of it. Take the wins you can get.

Bloody Butterflies on Facebook

Bloody Butterflies on Bandcamp

Solar Sons, Another Dimension

solar sons another dimension

Whilst prone to NWOBHM tapping twists of guitar in the leads of “Alien Hunter,” “Quicksilver Trail,” etc. and burling up strains of ’90s metal and a modern heavy sub-burl that adds nuance to its melodies, Solar Sons‘ fifth album, Another Dimension, arrives at its ambitions organically. The Dundee, Scotland, everybody-sings three-piece of bassist/lead vocalist Rory Lee, guitarist/vocalist Danny Lee and drummer/vocalist Pete Garrow embark with purpose on a narrative structure spread across the nine songs/62 minutes of the release that unveils more of its progressive doom character as it unfolds its storyline about a satellite sent to learn everything it can about the universe and return to save a dying Earth — science-fiction with a likeness to the Voyager probes; “The Voyage” here makes a triumph of its keyboard-backed second-half solo — presumably with alien knowledge. It’s not a minor undertaking in either theme or the actual listening time, but hell’s bells if Another Dimension doesn’t draw you in. Something in the character has me feeling like I can’t tell if it’s metal or rock or prog and yes I very much like that about it. Plenty of room for them to be all three, I guess, in these songs. They finish with the swing and shred and stomp of “Deep Inside the Mountain,” so I’ll just assume everything works out cool for homo sapiens in the long run, conveniently ignoring the fact that doing so is what got us into such a mess in the first place.

Solar Sons on Facebook

Solar Sons on Bandcamp

Mosara, Amena

mosara amena

A 5:50 single to answer back to last year’s second long-player, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets (review here), the latest from Mosara — which is actually an older track given some reworking, vocals and ambience, reportedly — is “Amena,” which immediately inflicts the cruelty of its thud only as a seeming preface for the Conan-like grueling-ultradoom-battery-with-shouts-cutting-through about to take place. A slow, noise-coated roll unfolds ahead of the largely indecipherable verse, and when that’s done, a cymbal seems to get hit extra hard as though to let everyone know it’s time to really dig in. It is both rawer in its harshness and thicker in tone than the last album, so it puts forth the interesting question of what a third Mosara full-length might bring atmospherically to the mix with their deepening, distorted roil. As it stands, “Amena” is both a steamroller of riff and a meditation, holding back only for as long as it takes to slam into the next measure, with its sludge growing more and more hypnotic as it slogs through the song’s midsection toward the inevitable seeming end of feedback and drone. Noisy band getting noisier. I’m on board.

Mosara on Facebook

Mosara on Bandcamp

Jupiter, Uinumas

Jupiter Uinumas

Jupiter‘s Uinumas is a complex half-hour-plus that comprises their fourth full-length, running seven songs — that’s six plus the penultimate title-track, which is a psych-jazzy interlude — as cuts like “Lumerians” and “Relentless” at the outset see the Finnish trio reestablish their their-own-wavelength take on heavy and progressive sounds classic and new. It’s not so much about crazy structures or 75-minute-long songs or indulgent noodling — though there’s a bit of that owing to the nature of the work, if nothing else — but just how much Jupiter make the aural space they inhabit their own, the way “After You” pushes into its early wash, or the later “On Mirror Plane” (so that’s it!) spaces out and then seems to align itself around the bassline for a forward shuffle sprint, or the way that closer “Slumberjack’s Wrath” chugs through until it’s time for the blowout, which is built up past three minutes in and caps with shimmer that borders on the overwhelming. An intricate but recognizable approach, Jupiter‘s more oddball aspects and general cerebrality might put off some listeners, but as dug in as Jupiter are on Uinumas, on significantly doubts they were shooting for mass appeal anyhow. Who the hell would want that anyway? Bunch of money and people sweating everything you do. Yuck.

Jupiter on Facebook

Jupiter on Bandcamp

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Album Review: Ararat, La Rendición Del Hombre

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


Of all the projects Buenos Aires-based auteur Sergio Chotsourian might visit in a given year, between the heavy rocking Soldati, his solo work as Sergio Ch., the gothy Brno, releases through South American Sludge Records, archival whatnot from his time fronting Los Natas, various collaborations — hell, he even has two books out — Ararat is probably the most open in terms of scope. It can be just about anything. He takes advantage of this on the band’s fifth long-player, La Rendición Del Hombre, which arrives on a quick turnaround from 2022’s Volumen 4 (review here) and is issued through Interstellar Smoke and South American Sludge.

Already, when the project began with 2009’s Musica de la Resistencia (review here) on MeteorCity, Ararat were a departure. Those used to seeing Chotsourian on guitar might’ve been surprised to find bass as his main instrument, and the weighted lurching atmospheres were fleshed out with experimentalist fervor, arrangements of piano and so on for a folkish sensibility drawn from his own Armenian roots and meshed with influences picked up along the way.

In the almost 14 years since that first offering, Ararat have never been the same thing twice, and sure enough, the five songs and 34 minutes of La Rendición Del Hombre lives up to that standard of unpredictability. Chotsourian — who produced, mixed and mastered at Death Studios and handles guitar, bass, keys and vocals where applicable — pairs with violinist Federico Terranova as the only other contributor to the record. With no drums behind them and minimal percussion otherwise, the two dive into acoustic folk instrumentalism on opener “Ramen de Cordero” (2:56) and the centerpiece “Zulma Fadjat” (3:13) and work in a similar vein on the concluding title-track (4:02), but with a particularly emotive vocal from Chotsourian accompanying.

These pieces are offset by two extended cuts, dubbed “Eleven” (11:03) and “Twelve” (13:06), so that the procession alternates from short to long, each adding to the depth of what came before it. The hard-strummed style of guitar and raw sound that begins “Ramen de Cordero” will likely ring familiar with those who know Chotsourian‘s solo output — his latest LP is 2022’s The Red Rooster (discussed here) — and when it enters early, Terranova‘s violin is not at all out of place in winding itself around that guitar progression. I would believe the violin was improvised, if not the guitar, but the immediately, the feel is exploratory. As with all of La Rendición Del Hombre, the lack of drums makes it somewhat anchorless, but that’s very clearly part of the intention, for both the three shorter songs and the two epics sandwiched between them.

Immersion is the goal, as much perhaps for Chotsourian and Terranova as for their audience. “Ramen de Cordero” is rhythmic thanks to the noted hard strum of guitar, but comes across as a meditative path one is supposed to follow, something lost waiting to be found that turns out not to be tangible at all. The magic was in you, or at least in the strings of the instruments. A decidedly plugged rumble of low end starts “Eleven,” quiet and with flourish of guitar alongside, leading to a thicker distortion and an organ drone after the first two minutes. The impression is spacious even as the music itself is an intimate, individualized drone folk; something Chotsourian has done before in bringing together styles traditional and adventurous, but never quite in this way. “Eleven” cycles through again, this time with the organ under the quiet bass — continuity! — and a return of the vocals only in the last minute as the track slow-marches itself out.

Organ is the last element to fade out of “Eleven,” and the strike of guitar at the beginning of “Zulma Fadjat” feels like a purposeful reorientation. This time, Terranova follows the guitar closer, following its angular weaving pattern before taking off into soloist revelry. The sound is folk instrumental — celebratory music, but with a darker undertone — with the violin creating a sense of nostalgia as only it could, and no real room for vocals anyway in its memorable course, less improv-feeling than was “Ramen de Cordero” and showing that in a cold finish from Terranova and Chotsourian together.

Sergio ch ararat

Both “Eleven” and “Twelve” remind of 2012’s II (review here) in form and structure, the bass and vocal melody, though there are noteworthy differences of arrangement and execution. Still, with the low tone of Chotsourian‘s bass returning, it is a mode-switch easily made, and where 11 years ago, songs like “Caballos” or “La Ira del Dragon (Uno)” would have kicked in with full-on weight and doomly nod, “Twelve” follows suit from its predecessor in meeting the denser tone with organ, seeming to pick up the march from the end of “Eleven” where it left off and moving it forward into patient resonance, vocal drawl and a stop that brings acoustic (I think) guitar not to solo as one might imagine, but to reside deep in the mix and feel its way through a Caucasus-esque, East-leaning movement before the march resumes.

Another pointed strum and maybe that same guitar part — only backward — returns as the less-distorted bass makes its way through the quieter last of “Twelve” five or so parts, taking the place of organ and becoming a rhythmic focal point. There’s a spoken vocal or a sample that might be ChotsourianTerranova, or someone else entirely, that gives over to the noted backwards guitar near its transition into “La Rendición Del Hombre,” which comes across like a moment of arrival for the record in putting Chotsourian‘s voice and Terranova‘s violin together where neither “Ramen de Cordero” nor “Zulma Fadjat” did so, and that turns out to be the place to which La Rendición Del Hombre has been leading all along: an atmospheric, melancholy contemplation of melody, layered vocals starting at 2:32, consistent with what came before it but organically extrapolated further and skillfully placed as the final destination of the shifting approach, letting the emotion of Chotsourian‘s voice and the inherently wistful violin serve as the ‘heavy’ where “Eleven” and “Twelve” might have conjured a wall of tone.

I suppose La Rendición Del Hombre is an experimental release, or at least it would be for the relative few artists who’d be brave enough to compose and issue it, but Chotsourian is at home in either volume context, and while it’s easy to imagine “Eleven” or “Twelve” revisited in a full-band arrangement at some time in the future, their interpretation here draws a line between Ararat and Chotsourian‘s solo fare in a way that hasn’t been done before and that should be appreciated by those who’ve followed his output for however long. Newcomers who don’t mind getting a little weird (and sad) should have no trouble though, but those seeking a more heavy rock-based sound might consider Volumen 4 or 2014’s Cabalgata Hacia la Luz (review here), but however one approaches it, La Rendición Del Hombre reinforces the project’s capacity for breadth and is a standout example among many of Chotsourian‘s forward-thinking craft.

Ararat, “Eleven” official video

Ararat, “Ramen de Cordero” official video

Ararat, La Rendición Del Hombre (2023)

Ararat on Facebook

Sergio Ch. website

South American Sludge on Bandcamp

South American Sludge website

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Interstellar Smoke Records on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records on Instagram

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Spinda Records Signs Fin Del Mundo and Travo for New Releases

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Spinda Records has announced picking up two bands in the last 40-or-so hours, sending word down the PR wire that Argentina’s Fin del Mundo and Portugal’s Travo have signed to the label — the latter also a collaboration with Portuguese imprint Gig.Rocks — with new releases coming soon. I’ve heard the new Travo and it’s right on modern heavy psych, sounding like it’s from another galaxy. I don’t know the status of Fin del Mundo‘s next offering, but if Spinda wanted to do a pressing for their pastoral 2022 second EP, La Ciudad Que Dejamos, hearing it for the first time following word of their signing, I’d hardly argue.

The record is righteously heavy in the bass and has a bit of post-rock float in the vocals and guitar, a kind of heavy-indie psych-gaze, melodically focused and flowing. It’s only four songs, so perhaps it might be paired with their similarly-constructed 2020 self-titled across a compiled 12″? Just tossing out ideas, here. Either way, “El Incendio” sounds like The Cure in a way that sits well alongside Travo‘s more blasted cosmic rock.

Details are sparse but follow here in not-really-organized-looking-but-organized-in-my-head-and-it’s-my-site-so-bite-me fashion, along with audio and video from both acts:

fin del mundo


Post-rock & shoegaze band FIN DEL MUNDO from Argentina joins Spinda Records. Some exciting news are coming… but in the meantime please enjoy their live session for the KEXP, with nearly 900.000 views in 8 months!

Julieta Heredia – guitarra
Julieta Limia – batería
Lucía Masnatta – guitarra y voz
Yanina Silva – bajo y coros



We’ve some awesome news to share with y’all. TRAVO’s upcoming second studio album ‘Astromoporh God’ is fully ready, sounds amazing and is coming out in Autumn through an Iberian collaboration between Gig.Rocks and Spinda Records. Keep an eye as both album pre-order and live dates are just behind the corner. (#128247#) Francisco Gaspar

Enjoy this live video from their gig at Sonic Blast 2022!

David Ferreira – Bass
Gonçalo Carneiro – Electric Guitar, Synthesizer
Gonçalo Ferreira – Vocals, Electric Guitar, Synthesizer, Percussion, Organ, Piano
Nuno Gonçalves – Drums

Fin Del Mundo, Live on KEXP

Fin Del Mundo, La Ciudad Que Dejamos (2022)

Travo, “The Beast/Sinking Creation” live at SonicBlast Fest 2022

Travo, Sinking Creation (2022)

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