There has always been a rebellious tinge to the musical work of Sergio Chotsourian. For over 15 years, as the guitarist and vocalist of Argentina’s brightest stoner metal exports, Los Natas, Chotsourian (together with bassist Gonzalo Villagra and drummer Walter Broide) has championed a freedom as prevalent musically as it is in their Spanish-mostly lyrics.
For the first time, Chotsourian steps outside the Los Natas role (sort of) with his new project, Ararat. Named for the sacred Armenian mountain, Ararat’s first album, Musica de la Resistencia, shows the duality of Chotsourian’s heritage. European and native South American, the guitarist explores a variety of influences, from straightforward rock and folk to drone-based noise and darkened soundscaping. The result makes Musica de la Resistencia a vastly underrated work of remarkable depth that can offer the listener as much as he or she is willing to get out of it.
Chotsourian, with whom I’d previously conducted and interview this year on the occasion of Los Natas’ new album, Nuevo Orden de la Libertad, recently took some time out to answer a bevvy of emailed questions about his lineage and the forces at work behind Ararat.
How did the idea for Ararat come about? Was there something specific about the music or the writing process that you knew separated it from Los Natas?
I started recording home shit since 10 years ago, many things on vacation time, tour days off and time wasted with my older brother Santiago. He plays piano classical-style and we used to share music and melodies since we were kids. Also been doing the very first versions for the Los Natas songs, I mean demos or the very first ideas I do at home and enjoy mixing in different ways to see what’s up with the song.
One day fixing my home studio I realized I got all this music non-released, so I started working on a long process of listening to all my recorded shit, then choosing and then a very different map of composition than Los Natas, more like a movie edit. Many times in the studio recording over and over new things, editing and bringing concepts to it. And that was it, man; the spirit was just there, waiting for me to name it and work it hard.
Is there something you feel you can express in Ararat and not in Los Natas?
Ararat is a part of Los Natas and both ways around. Los Natas’ Nuevo Orden de la Libertad shares some moment with Ararat’s debut album, as it was kinda made up at the same time, and Ararat was kind of the experiment room for some Los Natas ideas. So it could have been also featured as a DCD album.
Ararat is more about my blood and spirit, Los Natas is the three-piece of los tres hombres: Sergio, Gonzalo and Walter.
There’s an intimate vibe on a lot of the songs, sometimes darker and what Los Natas does. How much of ‘Gitanoss’ came from experimenting in the studio, and did you have a specific sound in mind for the album going into it?
Um, yes ‘Gitanoss’ is a deep thing. I remember sitting in the studio with my friend El Topo, I just dropped a deep bass drum Indian local shit, then El Topo had these words in mind about the gypsies and shit, we developed some keyboard passage huge, and then on easily acoustic guitars broke through to a final speed-up all together.
Ararat’s music, yes, is more intimate and more spacey, it’s got more room in-between melodies and songs, it takes all the time music needs and asks for developing the idea.
Between Mt. Ararat and the South American elements in the music (and obviously the lyrics), you’ve got a lot of blending cultures going on with Musica de la Resistencia. How much did your personal heritage and experience play into the concept of the band and the duality of the music?
Ararat is most of all about my personal heritage I cannot runaway from. Part of my family is Armenian, the other part German, the other part local Argentine Indian. I feel the need to be in equilibrium with all these three spirits inside of me. Ararat and the pianos got more about to the Armenian army, my father my brother and these little sad melodies, at the same time intricate and repetitive, like a mantra but from Armenian folk. It’s also a duel of time and history, the elements sometimes so raw and ancient, and sometimes these future sounds or organs undefined in time…