5 Selects w/ Discotchari (Armenian Rare Groove)

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Rare grooves from Armenian selectors Zach Asdourian and Anaïs Gyulbudaghyan.

Discotchari is a new project from LA-based record selectors Zach Asdourian and Anaïs Gyulbudaghyan. Named after a song from the ’80s by French-Armenian singer Marten Yorgantz, the label describes itself as “half-disco: the pinnacle of American dance culture; and half-kotchari: the roots of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek civilization and more.” Through record popups, radio shows, and online mixes, the label aims to reconstruct “a long lost back-catalogue of rare groove music from artists of all these identities, becoming an archive where these songs will be rediscovered by future generations of listeners.”

Not only focused on archival projects, Discotchari is also “modernizing ancient roots” with their contributions to YERAZ [Past, Present and Future Armenian Sounds From Los Angeles to Yerevan], a compilation released in 2011 under Discotchari’s parent label Critique Records. The compilation featured contemporary Armenian artists from around the world blending traditional instruments with synthesizers and electronic production through a broad range of genres from trip-hop and IDM to ambient and experimental sound art.




This Saturday from 1-6pm, Discotchari will be joining us in-store for a not-to-be-missed record sale! Expect a “World Famous World Section” housing Armenian rarities, must-have reissues, DJ tool compilations, and disco + jazz staples. In anticipation of the record sale, Discotchari has sent over a selection of favorites that will be available for sale including Armenian folk, rare groove, psych rock, and soundtrack music w/ descriptions written by Zach and Anaïs.

Tato Aristakessian – Self-titled (1978)

Armenian records aside, this album is obscure in many ways. It is a one-off wallop of boulevard-strutting psych-rock produced by a band of five brothers; the singer sports a Fabio-esque mullet and Dice-approved jacket while eponymously gracing the cover. Hailing from Beirut and echoing from the Bay Area, the Aristakessians’ music is equal parts whimsy and wizardry. Their frontman Tato falls nothing short of being a charismatic crooner full of original orations, backed by only the funkiest of his family members. 

John Berberian – Middle Eastern Rock (1969)

A staple among both Armenian and jazz collectors, this album reflects the musical magic brewing at the turn of the decade. It is the product of a major label effort to turn John Berberian into an ethnic crossover success (“the next Ravi Shankar”) by pairing him with another virtuoso already established in the field, i.e. Joe Beck. These two masterminds recorded the whole album in one session, aided by elite colleagues including Souren Baronian on woodwinds and Chet Amsterdam on bass. 

Marten Yorgantz – Yorgantz ’79 (1979)

Marten Yorgantz is actually responsible for realizing the term “Discotchari” in one of his self-released 80’s records. Although his persona and style come off as inimitable, his reputation is polarizing to some because of his tendency to borrow works from other artists without giving proper credit. On this record, Yorgantz sings Armenian lyrics to the tune of Turkish psych melodies, nails a couple of wedding dance floor heaters, and signs off with a disco-flavored cover of Frankie’s “My Way”.

Manuel Menenkichian – Promise of Love (1976)

The meteoric popularity of Manuel’s music was bolstered by his prolific acting career, and his most successful records were the soundtracks of such films that he starred in. Bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and Beirut with his frequent collaborator, filmmaker Sarky Mouradian, he built a dedicated following between the two most influential Armenian diaspora communities before embarking on several global tours. He quit while he was on top, leaving us with a handful of albums that retain him at the peak of his magnitude.

Knarig Boyadjian – S.T. (1973)

Knarig’s music catalogue is shallow compared to the life that she lived. A Grand Dame of the Military Order of Malta, Knarig received honors from Queen Elizabeth II and Rosalynn Carter for her poetry, which has been translated into multiple languages including Sanskrit. Juxtaposed to many -male- singers whole built their repertoire around compositions rooted in folklore, this album demonstrates Knarig’s ambition to introduce a new -feminine- perspective to the Armenian music lexicon through her songwriting.

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