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COH
Above Air (Eskaton) CD

 Although he’s released a steady stream of EPs and reissues in recent years, including the wonderful “Electric Electric” EP on Mego and the “Seasons” 2x 12” on Idea, it’s been almost five years since the release of Ivan Pavlov’s last proper full-length CD, Netmork. With Above Air, Pavlov breaks the drought in fine style, releasing his strongest, most consistent work to date. Dedicated to the memory of Pavlov’s friend and collaborator, the late Coil frontman, Jhonn Balance, Above Air is by no means funereal or morbid, though it occasionally has a beautifully austere, even elegiac tone.

Constructed as an interconnected series of movements, rather than discrete tracks, the various pieces on Above Air flow into one another, evoking the hallucinatory effects of high altitude flight. It begins with granular waves of static and delicate, piercing high frequency tones which eventually give way to the bright clarity of bell chimes, which themselves are gradually subsumed by a restless, churning mass of sound. Even at their most violent and apparently chaotic, the sounds have a razor-edged scultural precision — a COH calling card — with some of the smallest sonic details containing the record’s most poignant moments. Pavlov has always had a playful, disarmingly tongue-in-cheek affinity for pop music, and here he not only creates moments of spare beauty (“I Ascend Bright With An Oxygen Mask” and “Between Heaven and Earth” are particular standouts), but also some surprisingly catchy tunes (“Through Empty Echoes of Your Voice” and “I Smile I Know”). Above Air is one of my favorite records in quite some time. A stunning release!

 

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