Tuesday, June 15, 2010

COH - Above Air (2006)

COH is the work of the Russian soundsmith, Ivan Pavlov. The band name is actually written in the Cyrillic alphabet, is pronounced "sohn" and means "sleep." The resemblance to the English letters C, O and H is purely coincidental.

Now that we've got that cleared up, on to the music. This is an album of all electronic pieces with a common theme of airiness. While airiness may seem like a hard concept to get across, musically, Pavlov is very succssful in the implementation of his plan by using a rather restricted pallette of sound. The synths are mostly high pitched and somewhat thin, with bell like tones playing a prominent role. There is a bit of a hissing quality to many of the tracks, sounding like a jet engine might if it could only relax and turn down the volume. Some of the tracks are rather rhythmic (although nothing a sane person would dance to) and others are more free flowing and open ended. There are also elements of glitch present, such as minor clicks that sound a little like a CD skipping, and at times the music reminds me a lot of Coil's work as ELpH, which is appropriate as this release was dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased John Balance.

The overall tone of the album is very subdued and open, at times bordering on ambient. It's easy to imagine oneself drifting through the stratosphere, alone and peaceful, with only the sounds of moving air and occassional faint radio signals passing through your ears. The unity of sound that Pavlov has achieved, while still maintaining nine aurally distinct tracks is impressive. Usually albums of this sort are either overly monotonous or else they abandon their concept in search of a more varied sound. That Pavlov deftly avoids these traps and delivers a rich and satisfying listening experience is a tribute to his creativity and to his skills as an electronic musician.

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