Ivan Pavlov was born in Gorky, Soviet Union, in 1968. The metropolis was the hub of the country’s armaments industry and it was closed for foreigners from the WW2 until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Western rock spread everywhere, and by his puberty Ivan was playing guitar, inspired by the new wave of British heavy metal. During 1983–84 playing rock music in the Soviet Union meant a whole different kind of gloom and New Romanticism than, say, here in the nearest neighbour to the west. At worst, you could end up in jail. Ivan himself remained unscathed, but understandably a career as a professional musician was out of the question. He began studies in mathematics and physics, specializing after his graduation in “technology pertaining to submarine acoustics” – and we can only guess what this meant if you were a junior researcher in a Soviet university located at the heart of the military-industrial complex.
In the early 90’s Pavlov’s research institute procured a state-of-the-art 486DX computer. Pavlov started to learn programming and amused himself by making computer music with trackers, the primitive sample- based sound programmes. In 1995 his computer skills earned him a job offer from Stockholm, where he still resides today. Having compiled his first CD-R in 1997, he decided to send a few copies to some of his big favourites, Pan Sonic and Coil, whom he had just befriended. The rest makes a good case for being history: in 1998 the Raster Noton label from Berlin – sharing Pan Sonic in their release schedule – put out Pavlov’s debut album Enter Tinnitus under his Cyrillic moniker COH, i.e. “DREAM”, or "SLEEP". The next COH release from Raster Noton featured members of Coil, with whom Pavlov has collaborated on later occasions as well. More often, though, his music shares some similarities with other Raster Noton artists like Carsten Nikolai and Ryoji Ikeda, mainly for the minimal beauty of their hyper-abstract techno. Where they differ the most is COH’s Russian- style surreal humour, which surfaces from time to time. When his latest release, Electric Electric EP came out on the Mego label last year, it was announced that the record was “inspired by a nonexistent German record label run by a female DJ” and includes an insert which features “sexually explicit images taken at a Russian university during spring 2003”.
Later this year Mego will release COH’s tenth album (depending on how you count them). The annual Avanto compilation CD features a taster in the form of 665.9F [HOT LIKE HELL]. Pavlov’s music can also be heard in two videos in the Avantoscope 1 screening, namely 20.21 by Galina Myznikova and Sergei Provorov, as well as Brigitta Bödenauer’s don’t touch me when I start to feel safe/waltz Nuevo no. 1.
COH at the Avanto Nightclub in UMO Jazz House on Friday, November 19th.