-->
Music

COH: 0397 Post Pop

Mike Schiller

When you hear the music of COH, do you start salivating? Wait -- I'm getting my Pavlovs mixed up.


Coh

0397 Post Pop

Label: Mego
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2005-03-01
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

COH is the work of one man, known as Ivan Pavlov (different than he of the famous dogs, of course), who can lay claim to the dubious distinction (shared, regrettably, by artists like Thighpaulsandra and The Inflatable Sideshow) of being at least as renowned for his associations as for his music. One half of his latest release 0397 Post Pop sees something of an acknowledgement of this, as disc two (the "97" disc) is a re-release of COH's first album, a limited edition of seven that was given to, as the press release puts it, "inspirational friends". These "inspirational friends", of course, likely included other artists such as John Balance, Peter Christopherson (both of Coil), and Steven Stapleton (of Nurse with Wound) given the hints in the track titles. Even as this disc would appear to rely on such associations, however, it would seem that 0397 Post Pop is as much an exorcism as a thank you. Pavlov is trying to tell us that yes, of course he does associate with these people, but they do not define him.

And honestly, he does a pretty decent job making such a bidirectional declaration.

The music of COH is an exercise in experimental electronic minimalism -- little things like melodies and beats, the things we often take for granted as part of our music listening diet, are often sacrificed in favor of pops of static and whirs of quiet, controlled feedback. The "97" disc, besides being Pavlov's first album, is something of a mission statement, a way for Pavlov to tell these "inspirational friends" what they meant to him and lay out some of the possibilities for his career ahead. "97" is an enthralling listen, surely, but there's an indefinable something that sounds a touch strained, a bit eager to please, as it were.

It's difficult to articulate just what it could possibly be that makes this unique sort of static-as-music sound "eager to please", but hints lie in the song titles. For example: "Steep Staple Tone" is a rather obvious reference to Nurse With Wound's Steven Stapleton, likely one of the seven in Pavlov's original audience. Now, Mr. Stapleton makes some wholly unclassifiable experimental music, the only common thread in which often seems to be the ability to startle and/or perplex the listener. Likewise, "Steep Staple Tone" is the quirkiest thing on "97", taking a quick, abrasive set of noises high on the treble and turning them into a rhythm, effectively driving them into the ground via constant repetition. There's a "bonus" track (that is, not on the original issue of this album) called "Scotch Sleaze", which could very well be a reference to Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson, and "C is for Sleep" is a slight modification of a similarly titled Coil song. All of the homage is nice for those in on the jokes, I'm sure, but the presence of so many obvious title-based homages keeps the music itself from taking center stage.

Which, I suppose, might even be the point, given that the music on "97", while unique, never quite manages to capture the imagination the way "03" does.

The "03" disc is composed of material that was supposed to be a studio album, but the first seven tracks of it "may" be a live recording (neither the liners nor the press materials make this terribly clear) from Austria. The fact that it's supposedly a live recording is interesting, given that as a whole, it's much more cohesive an album-length statement than its earlier studio counterpart. The tracks meld into each other as if the whole disc, "live" and "studio" tracks alike, were conceived as a whole, with track divisions added later for the sake of appeasing the masses and their short attention spans.

Even given the single-track feel of "03", however, it's on this disc that the "Post Pop" in 0397 Post Pop actually seems to make sense. While "Da Kota Rap", despite its name, is as abstract as anything on "97", it does feature an identifiable sample -- the somehow appropriate inclusion of Mia Farrow singing the "la la la" theme from Rosemary's baby. As the disc progresses, the menace increases, but so does the accessibility, as bona fide techno beats make their way into the mix, along with some low bass tones that, in some circles, might actually count as melodies. As one might expect, the three-and-a-half minute "Untitled Smash Hit" is the highlight if one is to be found, as the beat gets beefed up the most over its short length and some of the nicest of those unexpected melodies crop up, if briefly. Closing track "Starlust" also provides some excellent new sounds, bringing the whole experience to a necessary climax. "03" is, ultimately, the sound of Pavlov shedding his influences and using his own musical voice.

It's tough to recommend a disc like 0397 Post Pop to a general populace that mostly doesn't have a taste for this sort of music -- this album will do nothing to change the unconverted's mind. Still, for the already initiated, it's another piece of the fascinating puzzle of Pavlov's recorded work thus far.

6
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image