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: 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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Friday Full-Length: Los Natas, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 19th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

So perfect and so raw, the fifth and final full-length from Buenos Aires trio Los Natas, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here), was issued in 2009 through the celebration-worthy triumvirate of Nasoni Records in Europe, Small Stone Records in the US and Oui Oui Records in Argentina. Its 10 songs are inherently transitional in nature — even more so in hindsight, but nonetheless are the culmination of a creative growth that began more than a decade earlier on 1996’s Delmar (discussed here), which is one of the best heavy rock records ever made and one of two the three-piece would put out through Man’s Ruin, with the other being their second LP, 1999’s Ciudad de Brahman (discussed here). Then just Natas, the band would jump to Small Stone for 2002’s Corsario Negro, releasing a flurry of short offerings concurrent to their second and third albums, including splits with Dozer and Viaje a 800 and the Livin’ La Weeda Loca and El Gobernador EPs.

The jammier full-lengths Toba Trance I, Toba Trance II (also compiled together on 2CD) and München Sessions followed in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively, the latter a recorded exploratory collaboration with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze. El Hombre Montaña, their fourth album-proper, arrived in 2006 and was the capstone on the most productive era of the band. Guitarist/vocalist Sergio Chotsourian, bassist Gonzalo Villagra and drummer Walter Broide issued a split with Solodolor (which featured Chotsourian and producer Billy Anderson) in 2008, but when Nuevo Orden de la Libertad landed in 2009, it was very much the culmination even then of what Los Natas were going to be. Presented across 10 tracks and 50 minutes, its procession is led by “Las Campanadas,” which on guitar introduces the Western-ish theme that will bookend and flesh out in “Dos Horses” at the finish, Sergio‘s brother Santiago Chotsourian contributing piano, before launching into one of the most righteously gritty A sides an LP could ever hope for. The lead movement in “Las Campanadas” is punkish with Broide‘s snare pops, but the guitar and bass tones around are low and dust-coated, the vocals out front and melodic but able to keep up with the intensity of the thrust. “Las Campanadas,” in addition to its maddeningly cool circular pattern and fuzzed solos, finally opens up its groove at the very end, but the tension holds over into “El Nuevo Orden de la Libertad,” the chorus of which stretches the delivery of the title line as if to teach the audience to sing along regardless of their native language. The words are sharp, precise: “El nuevo, nuevo orden, de la libertad.”

That hook is a big part of the album’s personality, and especially as someone who doesn’t speak the language, its identity as a heavy rock recordlos natas nuevo orden de la libertad that dares to be political when most don’t. The subsequent “Resistiendo Dolor” (‘resisting pain’) is mellower for about 90 seconds and answers that intro at its finish, but hits just as hard as either of the first two cuts in between. The song actually sounds like it’s getting up and running as the distorted guitar enters at 1:33 into its total 5:11, and the confidence behind its turn back toward the subdued part is striking, leading to the end of sustained organ notes. “Hombre de Metal” — their own “Iron Man,” perhaps — follows, presumably having resisted the prior pain in order to declare oneself via that riff. Nestled into a groove on the ride cymbal, Broide answers the bridge of “Las Campanadas,” but he’s no less on the snare or toms throughout, and the whole band sounds dug into the momentum they’ve built to that point, which leads them to “Ganar-Perder,” the side B opener that begins to branch out sound-wise from what the first four songs established. Classic in style, melancholy in mood and desert-hued in tone, it takes its time where most of Nuevo Orden de la Libertad has been a shove to that point, and is given flourish of layered acoustic guitar as it moves into its middle, which will gradually come to prominence as they move toward the evocative instrumental finish.

Like much of Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, the expanded-mindset of the 6:44 longest track “Ganar-Perder” is a hint of things to come from Chotsourian, who before 2009 was done would release the first album from his then-nascent Ararat project, Musica de la Resistencia (review here), building in concept on some of the sociopolitical expression here while pushing further into doom and psychedelia, etc. “Ganar-Perder,” as precursor to that, is entrancing by the time it gives over to “El Pastizal,” which is a five-minute build into a last-minute freedom run — at last seeming to break out of the crunch and not look back. It doesn’t last — it is quite literally the final minute of the track — but the point gets across just the same. The shorter instrumental “David y Goliath” throws the listener into a fuzz blender set to puree, giving hints of the gallop of “Ganar-Perder” or its foreshadow in the ending of “Las Campanadas” but seeming to be consumed by its speedy rhythmic churn, which lets the interlude-ish “Bienvenidos” be the exhale with its stretch of acoustic guitar and some light effects swell. That moment becomes all the more appreciable with the feedback entry of “10,000,” a return to the push of the album’s early going that acts as the crescendo for the release as a whole. Intricate with the various stops in its second half, it resolves of course in a gallop growing faster and coming apart even as it fades. It doesn’t sound like a band hitting it hard for the last time together in the studio.

In the first paragraph, I used the word “transitional” to describe the album’s nature, and “Dos Horses” — the closer in the sense of an epilogue or, in our franchise-centric times, a post-credits scene — revives the intro of “Las Campanadas” with breadth in the acoustic guitar and winding course of piano that accompanies, some backward. There are subtle effects behind the ending lines, but the song just kind of stops, and that’s it. But that it and “Ganar-Perder” would show up on Ararat‘s Musica de la Resistencia, the latter with a dramatic rearrangement, began an interplay between projects for Chotsourian that would continue through his solo work under the banner of Sergio Ch., on subsequent Ararat releases and in the late ’10s trio Soldati, his songs becoming open to multiple interpretations and able to withstand the repeat visits. In being the moment of that change, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad was not the final Los Natas release — they put out Death Sessions (review here) in 2016, capturing a live set in the studio — but it was the final new release, and it remains a beautiful component of the legacy Los Natas left behind in their subsequent dissolution. And Broide, it should be noted, currently features in the instrumental outfit Poseidótica.

For as long as I’m alive, I will be grateful to have seen them at Roadburn 2010 (review here) — much as one could see anything when the room was so dark — and to have gotten to hear some of this material in-person. Among heavy rock acts of their generation, who got their start in the post-grunge, post-Kyuss mid and late 1990s, I will gladly put Los Natas among the best, and even more than their seminal first two LPs, which were more directly communing with (and contributing to) the beginnings of desert rock as a global genre, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad was the claim they laid to an individual sound and point of view, and 14 years it remains an album with a presence of its own; some of the stateliest punk-born heavy rock you’ll ever hear.

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

I didn’t close out last week, felt kind of guilty about it. The time I would’ve spent finishing that post, I instead took as a chance to pick up something for The Patient Mrs. for Mother’s Day, and that seemed like a warranted use of an hour and a half. If you’re interested, I had a post talking about Entombed on Man’s Ruin. It was the Black Juju EP, which I’ll probably talk about next week if something else doesn’t come along, or at some point in the future either way. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with something. It’s good to know I have two more Los Natas records in my pocket as well. Yes, I do keep track of these things.

This week? It was a week. I feel like a garbage human lately, so whatever. I hope you had a good week. Next week will be another one. Years will pass in this manner as they already have.

Today The Patient Mrs. and I are going to try recording voice tracks for a podcast. We are not often collaborators, but she suggested it and I’ll basically take any opportunity to hang out with her at this point since we so rarely get to do so, so whatever. It’ll have music and probably more talking than the Gimme Metal show did — there’s two of us, after all — but still not a ton I hope. I don’t know. Gonna feel it out and see where it goes, but in the true fashion of keeping up with the times, I figure it’s probably a good moment to embrace a format that arguably peaked a decade ago. As opposed to radio, mind you, which peaked three decades ago. Shrug.

Today is also family class at The Pecan’s tae kwon do school, which we’ll be hitting up after regular school this afternoon. I can’t remember if I talked about this before or not — pretty sure I did — but tae kwon do, the fact that he goes to a place that was branched off the same one I went to — brings up all kinds of emotional baggage for me. I did that from maybe 8 or 9 until I was 14-ish? It’s difficult to explain, but that was a pretty rough time for me, and near the end I had an instructor I didn’t like who hated fat people, and going to The Pecan’s class — let alone taking part, which is what family class is — an emotional trigger for me in ways that I have yet to fully understand, never mind express. But the kid loves it, so there. I just want it to be over so we can go home. Performing parenting is a fucking drag anyway.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ve got a bunch of stuff lined up for next week, including a premiere from the High Desert Queen and Blue Heron split on Monday, so that’ll be fun. Totimoshi interview as well, speaking of the ’00s. Hydrate, watch your head, all that stuff.


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Former Man’s Ruin Artists Pay Tribute to Frank Kozik

Posted in Features on May 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Some of the best heavy rock records of all time were released through Man’s Ruin Records. We’re talking about pivotal, genre-defining releases that continue to resonate some 20-plus years later, which in rock and roll time is an eternity. Some bands are still active and contributing, and some have left it behind, but in light of the sudden passing last week of artist and label-founder Frank Kozik, it felt right to take a look at that portion of his life he spent fostering bands and some of the impact that music has had on, at this point, two subsequent generations of heavy.

I’ve told this story before, but maybe in 2004, I was at SXSW in Austin, Texas, meandering off 6th St. in order to find a show happening in a record store. Went under the highway bridge and all that to get to Snake Eyes Vinyl. I don’t think it’s there anymore, but at the time they were hosting bands as part of the whole SXSW thing. They moved bins and so on to make room for amps, or had artists play outside; I sat on a hill and saw Kylesa on the back of a trailer on a sunny afternoon; Drunk Horse and Saviours shared the ‘stage’ inside, etc.

The narrative in my head is that I was waiting for either Drunk Horse or Saviours — I honestly don’t remember — to go on, did some shopping in the interim, and stumbled on a motherlode of Man’s Ruin CDs. Some I had, many I didn’t, but with the label defunct two years prior, the stuff was already becoming rare and, on eBay, not cheap. I grabbed a stack that was no fewer than 10 discs — including Drunk Horse — and made my way to the counter to pay, only to find out that they belonged to Becca, the woman who ran the store. She was visibly sad to be parting with them.

I said that it was okay, I would give them a good home and take care of them. And I did. I still have them the better part of two decades later. It tells you the kind of connections that listeners made to the music that Kozik put out that, even when she had decided to sell them in her shop, it was hard to let go of those albums. Kozik’s work with Man’s Ruin was special, and the heavy underground has worked on a label-as-hub model since, whether it’s imprints like Small Stone, Ripple Music, Heavy Psych Sounds, and so on. Not only is Kozik’s output through Man’s Ruin still relevant aurally and visually, but it continues to shape the structure of heavy rock’s promotional and distribution apparatus. One does not generally think of a small business as influential.

Yet here we are. Some of the below was hoisted from social media, and some folks I hit up direct or through PR, but through it all, the spirit of thankfulness is palpable, and I’ll add my thanks to that, because there’s no way I’d be sitting here writing this sentence right now if not for Frank Kozik and Man’s Ruin Records. Heavy music owes him a debt it can never repay.

Thanks to all who took part in this, and thanks as always for reading.

man's ruin records cat logo

Lori S. from Acid King:

Wow (#128558#)(#128546#). Um…. Don’t know what to say . Man’s Ruin and Frank were a huge part of my life and always will be . Thank you for releasing our records creating a scene that didn’t exist and for the endless amount of cool artwork that will be on planet earth way longer than all of us R.I.P.

Sometime like, 94-96 I went to visit my friend, Tim Moss in San Francisco. While running around we stopped at Man’s Ruin where he introduced me to Frank Kozik and Frank being the nice guy that he is, let me grab a bunch of posters. I was freaking out. His label opened my ears to so many bands who later would become family. His art has always been a part of my life. Below is one of the prints he let me take and it was the very first piece of art we hung at Jackalope. Oh shit and then that amazing Man’s Ruin fest at the Troubadour w/ Scott Carlson, Lori Joseph, Rich Hay, Scott Reeder and lord can only remember who else (#128514#). Thanks for everything, Frank. Rest easy.

Fatso Jetson:

Our music and art scene has lost a true godfather, Frank Kozik believed in the unique music from our desert and was responsible for some of the most influential recordings, all were released on his Man’s Ruin label. From Kyuss to Queens of the Stone Age, Brant Bjork, the Jack Saints, Desert Sessions….the list goes on and on. We are so grateful and honored to be part of his history. Thank you Frank …Fatso sends love to you and your family brother. God Speed.

Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Ché, Fu Manchu, solo):

I was having dinner with Frank Kozik one night in SF and he asked me if it was true that I was going to record a solo record. I said yes. He said he wanted to put it out. The result was Jalamanta. That was in 1999 and it was my first solo release. I had no idea then I’d still be releasing solo records 24 years later. Thank you Frank for believing in me and all the other artists and bands you believed in. It takes one to know one. Frank was, still is and will always be… a true artist. ❤️BB

Eddie Glass of Nebula:

Frank was such a cool dude and played a legendary part in the scene when it was coming up. It was so cool being on his label because he would design the covers and the Sun Creature EP came out perfectly. He will be dearly missed.

Amanda Topaz from Begotten:

Frank Kozik was a friend at a time in my life when it was really hard to be my friend. His unexpected death makes me incredibly sad an my thoughts are with his wife Sharon. Although I Haven’t seen him in twenty years I am so grateful for his generosity. I don’t think cats now realize the extent of what he gave us because now the Spotify AI Algorithm picks out what you listen to every day, AI makes your music videos for you, for all I know AI is generating your riffs for you too. But back then in New York, finishing up music school where I was lucky enough to have one of Coltrane’s bass players as a teacher – and he would tell us – We can teach you how to play the music but you have to understand that it’s the soul of our generation – we created it in the streets and in the clubs -. Imagine then as a lost child hearing THE MELVINS for the first time – this sound from the Bay Area all the way across the country – for the first time at 1 in the morning from some cd bought in an underground record shop in a back alley with a group of friends. Or the desert sessions. Or Acid King / Kyuss / Nebula/ High on Fire. It was life-changing. This was the sound of OUR generation. Kozik handed it to us on a Man’s Ruin platter. Didn’t make a dime off it – he supported the company with poster and art sales as far as I know. And he was nice enough to give our big ugly maroon 89 Chevy van the name, “La Guappa”.

Lou Gorra of Solarized (also Halfway to Gone):

Frank was a brilliant artist. We all know that. I was so incredibly humbled when one of my favorite artists of all time signed my dopey little band to one of the coolest labels of the twentieth century. My time making records for Man’s Ruin was short lived, but the memories I made during that time will remain with me for the rest of life. I’m so incredibly sad that there will be no more new Kozik art for the world to love, but I’m tearfully grateful that my music can be referenced in his monolithic legacy, even in the most minuscule way. Thank you Frank. RIP

Darryl Shepard (ex-Roadsaw, currently Kind, etc.):

Seeing as how Craig and I were both in Roadsaw and we both play on this record, I feel this should be posted here as well: Not enough can be said about Frank Kozik. His artwork defined a subculture. His record label Man’s Ruin kickstarted the global stoner rock underground into high gear. The heavy underground rock scene would not exist the way it does now without his involvement. That is not hyperbole. Roadsaw was fortunate enough to release a 7” on Man’s Ruin. We went to his art studio in San Francisco while on tour and met him while he was screen printing the covers. We played the Bottom of the Hill that night and he personally dropped off the records at the club so we’d have some to sell. An absolute legend in the art and music worlds. R.I.P. Mr. Kozik. And thank you.

Sergio Ch. of Los Natas (currently Ararat, Soldati, solo, etc.):

Frank gave me the opportunity of my life. He believed in my work and shared it to the world. Got me into the big leagues just trusting some guys from Argentina and their love for music. I wouldn´t be standing where I am right now if not for is help, art and determination. I remember after recording album Ciudad de Brahman, back in San Francisco 1999, we piled into his truck and took a ride, just pumping the album’s mix cassette tape into the car’s player. He looked at me right into my eyes in a stop light and told me, almost breaking in tears, “Sergio, your music has spirit. Never give up. I am old and tired but you must keep doing what you do.” A few [years] later, Man’s Ruin Records announced their closeup and I got a huge UPS box right at my home in Argentina, including the one inch tapes from Natas’ Ciudad de Brahman album. along with a release rights letter from Frank. What a gentleman. Will miss you Boss, thanks and love foreva.

Erik Larson of Alabama Thunderpussy:

I didn’t know Frank Kozik as well as I would have liked to, but the fact that I knew him at all is nothing short of fantastic. When we met, I was just some Metal-Punk from Virginia, and yet the man showed me and Alabama Thunderpussy nothing but encouragement throughout the years we had a working relationship. I could always count on a no bullshit opinion from him. Frank didn’t seem to tolerate bullshit. His whole approach to Man’s Ruin Records seemed to be a testament to that viewpoint, and a ‘pay attention to what’s important right now’ attitude that kept things exciting, challenging and precarious all at once. I think it is safe to say Alabama Thunderpussy would never have achieved as much as we have, had it not been for that first opportunity Frank Kozik gave to us. I’m forever grateful to him for that.

Jim Hogan of Solarized (currently Defiance Engine):

When Frank Kozik ran Man’s Ruin Records, he helped our band, Solarized, more than any other label we ever dealt with. He offered a 50% profit split, made us store posters, and he made custom screened posters for when we toured. Eventually the label folded, but he helped hundreds of bands, and he and his crew released a whole lot of great albums. His poster art, his custom vinyl toys, and his record label were nothing short of amazing. He was the only guy we ever knew who got interviewed by Newsweek. He was an outstanding human being and he is truly a brother lost.

Reg Hogan of Solarized (currently Defiance Engine):

We send our heart felt condolences to Frank’s family and friends…Frank did more to elevate scene awareness, with his passion and love for the music, than most of the music industry. We are grateful he took a shine to our brand of Jersey swamp rock.

Arthur Seay of Unida:

Was an honor to have Frank release our Unida record ‘Coping with the Urban Coyote’, which really put us on the map and allowed us to tour Europe and caught the attention of the majors lol. He was a true artist, gifted, talented and crazy as fuck.

Jason Casanova of Tummler (currently Sasquatch):

Frank was the man. Not only for his art, but his vision for Man’s Ruin and the music scene that it created. I can’t thank him enough for giving my old band Tummler a shot at putting out a record back in the heyday. The smoking bunny will live on forever. RIP dude. You rule. – C

Johan Rockner of Dozer:

RIP Frank Kozik ❤️

He signed us back in ’98 and released our two first albums In the Tail of a Comet and Madre De Dios. He was one of those who believed in us, which we are forever thankful for. Without him Dozer would not be were we are. We met him in Stockholm at his exhibition “the Stockholm job”, a really cool and down to earth kind of guy.

Ben Ward of Orange Goblin:

Sad news this morning that the legendary artist Frank Kozik has passed away. Frank did some great artwork for Orange Goblin over the years and his label, Man’s Ruin Records, was responsible for some of the coolest releases in various genres from the mid to late ’90s. His artwork lives on forever and Frank will be remembered as a kind, funny, intelligent and humble man with a very unique style and he will be missed. Condolences to his family and friends. Thank you Frank, RIP.

Sons of Otis:

RIP Frank Kozik(#128128#) Mad visionary. The ONLY label that ever paid us.

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Sergio Ch. Premieres “Desde el Adentro” Video

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

sergio ch

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

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

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

So please enjoy:

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


[S.A.S. 118]




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

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

sergio ch manto negro video

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

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

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

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

Sergio Ch., “Manto Negro” official video


[S.A.S. 115]




Sergio Ch., “Manto Negro”

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Los Natas Reissuing Corsario Negro on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

los natas

Yeah, I mean, why not? They’ve done the first two albums on Argonauta, so doing the third only makes sense. Corsario Negro was the first Los Natas record to be issued after the fall of the mighty Man’s Ruin label in 2001. It arrived in 2002 via Small Stone and found Los Natas as one of a more-than-handful of refugee acts releasing through the Detroit imprint. Between 2002 and 2009, Los Natas would release three full-lengths on Small Stone, becoming one of its marquee acts and acting as an ambassadorial outfit for Argentinian heavy rock, the history of which can still be heard in their work today. The only difference between listening now and listening in 2002 is now you also have to take into account the influence Los Natas themselves had on greater South American heavy, which was/is considerable.

It’s out just in time for my wedding anniversary, as the PR wire explains:

los natas corsario negro

LOS NATAS to reissue game-changing album, “CORSARIO NEGRO”!

Argentinian stoner rock masters, LOS NATAS, have announced the re-release of their iconic, third album “Corsario Negro“. Originally released 18 years ago, in 2002 via Small Stone Records, September 25th 2020 will see the band reissue their game-changing record on Argonauta Records!

With their raw, psychedelic and heavy vintage sound, LOS NATAS belong to the forefathers and most distinctive bands of an entire genre, what should become and titled Stoner Rock. Formed in 1994, the band’s debut album, “Delmar“ (1998), took the heavy rock scene by storm, followed by constant touring all over the States, South America as well as Europe while LOS NATAS have shared the stages with acts such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Dozer, Unida, Nebula, Brant Bjork and many more. “Delmar” is still listed as one of the most important stoner rock records of history, Rolling Stone featured LOS NATAS as the hottest band of the year in 2000, meanwhile the trio from Buenos Aires has released eight highly acclaimed studio albums (among several splits and compilations) to date.

“Corsario Negro” was another milestone in the band’s career. A true monolith, build of heavy psych riffs, big grooves and extensive jams, showcasing the pure essence of stoner rock. The album was produced by Billy Anderson (The Melvins, Neurosis, Acid King & many more), and seen the light of day on CD with Small Stone in 2002. Following two LP editions of LOS NATAS‘ “Corsario Negro” in 2002 (Vinyl Magic Records) and 2016 (South American Sludge Records), the band has decided to reissue their groundbreaking, third studio album, which will be finally available again on Vinyl via the band‘s label Argonauta Records!

Says band mastermind, Sergio CH.: “Year [2001], Mans Ruin Records was dead. Frank Kozik gave us back all rights, tapes and bulk CDs back to the bands, he is my hero. Most bands emigrated to Small Stone Records from Detroit and doing Vinyl through Vinyl Magic Records in Italy, seemed like all the good times were over. But that‘s what we did, and followed the trainrail to new levels. I contacted Billy Anderson and Scott Hamilton at Detroit‘s great label, to do what I wanted, Los Natas heaviest album ever, and we did indeed.

Billy was just back from recording a High On Fire album, he was sharp as hell, recording and mixing process took place in Argentina, at one of the worst economical and social chaos crisis ever in the history of the country. Us, inside the studio working, outside on the streets, madness, cars on fire, supermarket riots, police violence, true story, and at the end we managed to congregate all our fear, hate and love, darkness, and heavyness of the moment into the album production.

Yeeears later after the CD and LP release, one day the postman rang at my door, to hand me an envelope with a CD from Billy. WTF! “Sorry Sergio for the delay, but here is the final mastering job as for Corsario Negro.“

Today, more than amazed to have it pressed on neon green splatter Vinyl, this is my Natas all time fav, a jewel of what music can do to us musicians, to heal and develop a way out of chaos. And even better to now run it via my fav label, Argonauta Records, too. Enjoy!“

Album Tracklist:
01. 2002
02. Planeta Solitario
03. Patas de Elefante
04. El Cono del Encono
05. Lei Motive
06. Hey Jimmy
07. Contemplado La Niebla
08. Bumburi
09. Americano
10. El Gauchito
11. Corsario Negro

The reissue of “Corsario Negro” was re-mastered by Billy Anderson, and will be coming out as a limited, neon-green LP edition on September 25th with Argonauta Records. The pre-sale for this must-have album, that belongs into every well-sorted stoner and psych rock record collection, is now available at THIS LOCATION!

Los Natas:
Sergio Chotsourian: Guitar, vox
Walter Broide: Drums, vox
Gonzalo Villagra: Bass

Los Natas, Corsario Negro (2002)

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Los Natas Post “El Gobernador” Video from Bee Jesus Collection

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

los natas el gobernador video

Perhaps, like me, you’re sitting on your hands — not literally, which would make it far more difficult to type — waiting for former Los Natas frontman Sergio Chotsourian to issue the previously announced full-length debut, Doom Nacional, from his hard-hitting new trio Soldati on April 24 through Argonauta Records. Perhaps, like me, you’re starting to get kind of bummed out at the fact that the record exists, singles have been streamed, and you haven’t heard it yet. Well, while you and I stew in our shared impatience, Chotsourian has dug back into the Los Natas archives — also apparently the public domain stock footage archives — and put together a video for the 13-minute jam-out “El Gobernador.”

These years past, the Los Natas discography is pretty murky. Tracks show up across multiple releases and in different forms, different recordings, and so on. “El Gobernador” was originally split into two parts and presented on the 1999 EP of the same name, with Chotsourian on guitar and vocals, Walter Broide on drums and both Claudio Filadoro Rimec and Miguel Fernandez contributing bass. That same year, the two parts appeared on a split with Spanish treasures Viaje a 800, and I’m not sure if that’s the same recording edited together, a different take or what. Not knowing, as ever, is only an excuse to hunt down both versions and find out.

This single-track version of the piece is from the double-CD compilation, Bee Jesus, on which it appeared as a not-insubstantial bonus track accompanying the band’s first two full-lengths, both of which happen to be back in print through Argonauta as well. As to where else it may or may not show up in the catalog, your guess is as good as mine, or, more likely, better. But this is a new video from out of the intricate and sometimes head-spinning catalog of the Argentinian heavy rock underground legends, and I’m more than happy to have an excuse to spend 13 minutes out of my day listening to Los Natas on basically any occasion. Some new visuals, even out of the public domain archive, qualify easily.

The clip was put together by Chotsourian himself. You’ll find it below.


Los Natas, “El Gobernador” official video



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