Named after the semi-nomadic indigenous group of Nepal, the Queens, New York-based Nepali immigrindcore quintet Chepang, return with a hotly anticipated and super hyped sophomore album Chatta.
From the get-go, the differences between Chatta and its predecessor Dadhelo are easily noticeable and the growth of Chepang as a unique voice in the world of grindcore music, apparent. Whereas Dadhelo was a bit more traditional with an awesome old-school vibe, cool blast beats by the two drummers, and some nice sludgy and crusty riffs by the sole guitar player, Chatta is much more experimental and wilder in its influences, some of which include free improv and free jazz, all the while bringing their grindcore mastery to another level.
Another way in which this album is a step forward for the band is the way the songs between “Pahilo Bhet” and “Antim Bhet” are made to seamlessly meld into one another, creating a sense as if they were recorded in a single take, this way raising the intensity levels of the album even further. This makes the album feel like a super complete experience rather than just a bunch of songs put together for the sake of a release. Yet, at the same time, each of the songs is also its distinct entity with its own beginning, middle, and end.
One of the ways the sense of the song belonging to a much bigger piece is done not only through the sense of momentum carried from one song to another, but also through the smart inclusion of recurring guests like Tashi Dorji and Mette Rasmussen that appear in some songs just for a second or two. This creates the impression that they were there while Chepang were tracking the album and just played wherever they felt they could give meaningful contributions. Listening to contributions done this way is so much more refreshing than listening to just another guest spot solo or whatever else pointless bullshit.
Talking about the guest appearances, they must be one of my favorite things in the entire cycle of songs between “Pahilo Bhet” and “Antim Bhet” is exactly the wild guest spots by improv guitarist Tashi Dorji, jazz saxophonist Mette Rasmussen, Takafumi Matsubura, and others. Not that the band is boring when they play alone, far from it, who can be bored with the super angular and chaotic guitar riffs and unique double drum blast beats employed by Chepang, it’s just that they constantly reach newer levels of expression and pushing of the boundaries of grindcore when they play with different people. This is most notable in the final song of this cycle, “Antim Bhet” where pretty much all of the guest collaborators share a spot with the band, managing to create a chaotic masterpiece full of improvised guitars, free jazz sax bursts, and crazy guitar solos. It’s super eclectic, yet everything is in its right place. Simply astounding.
Sadly, I can’t really say the same for the remainder of the album, consisting of what seems like an improvisation between Tashi Dorji who makes some awesome rain-like sounds and Mette Rasmussen and maybe some members of Chepang, and four remixes. To be honest, the remixes are probably the worst part of this otherwise brilliant album, mainly because they feel like a badly aged mark from another, super uncool, era. In fact, I felt so awkward and shy for their creators during my initial listen to the album, that I skipped them on all next listens… Still, I wouldn’t say that these remixes in any way hinder the enjoyment of listening to this brilliant album.
With Chatta, Chepang has managed to create one of the coolest and most refreshing grind albums I’ve heard in what feels like forever.