Ivan Pavlov, alias CoH (a Russian word pronounced “sun” and meaning dream, or sleep), is releasing an album of tracks composed between 2017 and 2018 – hence the acronym VO in the title: “very old”. The dedication is addressed in particular to Arvo Pärt and Jon Hassell: the seriousness of the former and the Fourth World Music of the latter, which aims to unite traditional and electronic music, fit Pavlov perfectly.
By his own admission, this new opus continues in the vein of Music Vol. (2016). However, he returns to his masterpiece, Strings (2007), in that it also features a collaboration with Andrej D.A.O. Kolesov, here officiating on the saz, an instrument in the lute family. The last piece, “Al-Quamar”, benefits from Kolesov’s transcendent playing. The album also features Pavlov on guitar and keyboards, in addition to electronics, presenting an extremely interesting combination in terms of sonic, textural and melodic exploration, between acoustic and organic parasitic noises and programmed sound effects.
CoH’s sonic detailing can be observed from one end to the other, in small impressionistic touches, with deep bass strokes. A form of pointillism emerges, made of infinitesimal variations and subtle rhythmic combinations. For example, the album opens with a brilliant play of timbres, all in formalism. The same note, played successively on synths and guitar, gradually draws a sad and static melody, to which a reverberant bass is added.
Also present is the characteristic minimalism, sometimes groovy, with an intermittent bass, all quite sombre. It’s there in “Opiate Stills”, with its slow swells of whistling. It then settles down, on “Naked Moonlight Resurrects Forgotten Poets”, into a much gloomier atmosphere. Blood-curdling spectral vibrations, from which distorted songs rise. A successful work of goldsmithing.