COH - Strings (CD Raster Noton)

COH is Ivan Pavlov a Russian who lives in Sweden. He’s been having work released since 1998 when “Enter Tinnitus” came out on Raster Noton.

Ten years on from that first release and we get what is described as an “attempt to reconcile the aesthetics of digital sound with that of the more traditional music instruments and to enrich the respective domains with the qualities of each other.” I’m not sure that they necessarily enrich the respective domains of each other. I can see how the traditional sounds are used to enrich the digital domain but not really the other way around.

Various source materials are used here. A Yamaha Grand Piano, A Red Musima Elektra V Guitar and improvised recordings of a Saz and an Oud.

Three of the four pieces that make up Part 1 and Part 2 sound  much like familiar COH territory, the hard pulsing rhythmical sounds you’d expect are very prevalent. Track one is noticeably different in that it’s very obviously a piano based track where the sounds of the piano haven’t been manipulated too far beyond their origins. It works as a nice gentle introduction and as a nice counterpoint to the second track of Part 1. Part 2 is made of two tracks that use a guitar that Ivan purchased in the USSR in 1988. You can hear the basis for the track in the distorted guitar sounds but they’ve been played around with enough to give it feel not too dissimilar to what you think of as a COH sound. Maybe not a million miles away from Pan sonic at their heaviest.

The last two tracks on this first CD are where you really get the sense of Ivan trying to mix the traditional with the digital.  Particularly noticeable here is that he’s given the Oud and the Saz the main part of the stage and is using the digital elements very much as a means of complimenting them rather than just incorporating them into his COH sound.  

CD 2 is made up of one piece called SU-U which was first recorded as a quadraphonic installation piece for Sonar 2006. It’s 17 minutes long and again uses the Oud and the Saz. The first half of the piece is very mellow, very ambient, the sort of sounds you’d expect in an installation really and it’s hard to spot any of the Saz or Oud. About 8 minutes in when the digital sounds get slightly heavier and more insistent you then have some Eastern sounding tunes being played out on one of the two instruments.  The last few minutes of the track again descend into ambient territory with the Oud or Saz (I don’t know which is which) taking prominence.

A nice idea here combining the digital and traditional and trying to get them to compliment each other. But as good an album as it makes to listen to I’m not entirely sure the experiment is a total success. To be so would require more of the original sounds getting more involved rather than those acting primarily as accessories. DB