Chotto Ghetto – Sparkles (2012)
I’ve mentioned before my history with and my love of punk rock (indeed, I am wearing a Nomeansno tee-shirt as I write this). It is because of this that I overlook one fundamental thing with the majority of punk; it’s fairly uninventive. However, punk doesn’t need to be inventive, that’s part of its beauty, kids can pick up guitars and shout about how much the world sucks without having to go to music school for years first.
That doesn’t mean that punk rock needs to be uninventive, it just means that uninventiveness shouldn’t be a criticism of it. There are bands however, who are truly innovative in all genres. In the 90s, in punk rock, there was an album had inventiveness as its philosophy: Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come (1998) was really quite original to the punk genre, in the same way that the album it was named after, The Shape Of Jazz To Come (1959) by Ornette Coleman, was to jazz (and indeed, helped establish free jazz as a genre).
Which brings me to Chotto Ghetto. They should probably be described as a post-hardcore band and they come from Los Angeles.
Sparkles is a fantastic album. It sounds like Chotto Ghetto took The Shape Of Punk To Come as a manifesto on music making and ran with it. It keeps you on your guard the whole time, with shifting rhythms and styles.
The album opens with decidedly Amen-styled riffs, on Tabula Rasa, a fairly straightforward punk/metal track, except when it breaks down with a shift in meter to a more proggy middle section, before horns come in to really confuse. Bermuda throws another curveball, starting with ethereal female vocals, leading into a nightmarish circus ditty, before following into a more Faith No More-styled (think Ugly in the Morning or Naked in Front of the Computer) track, Drive Time, which follows the lyrical theme. Papi is another complete diversion, starting with layered vocals, singing a medieval folk refrain, before the guitars come in and totally Dillinger Escape Plan it all up. More horns on One Man Island, and proggy jazz-rock on New Atlantis follow.
There is a lot on this album for a lot of people; I think it will appeal to fans of Refused, Faith No More, Dillinger Escape Plan, indeed anybody interested in innovation in punk and rock. A great album, well worth a listen!
Favourite tracks: Ghost Finders, The Kids Crave Discipline, Diana