We lead with a photo of the picture disc, a vinyl pressing so colorful and fun that it practically sells itself. Credit Ruth Stofer for the art, which perfectly reflects the joy of the album and the roundness of its sound. I bought the album without hearing it, and others may do the same. All the more pleasing, then, to discover not only a set of cheerful, upbeat dance tracks, but the warm story of their genesis.
How do we remember a loved one? CoH (Ivan Pavlov) touches on the troubles of his friend John Everall, but concentrates on his kindness and continues his legacy. 21 years ago, Everett planned to release a Pavlov album, but was thwarted by bankruptcy. The two then founded a record label together, and for the next two decades continued to exchange visions and ideas. At times it seemed that CoH was dark and Everall was light, but despite his difficulties, Everall still had some light in him, which he shared in the form of a set of analog synth sketches. Everall lived long enough to hear and appreciate CoH’s initial treatments; this is the final project. As Pavlov writes, this LP “celebrate(s) John’s boisterous spirit and genuine passion for everything we called music.”
This being said, the album is hard to criticize; nor would we wish to. With the exception of the digital-only bonus track (a dark collaboration with Coil’s Jhonn Balance), the album is simple, buoyant and fun. It’s as if Pavlov is telling his old friend, “others may remember your depression, but I choose to remember your contagious joy.” And over the course of six tracks, he makes Everall’s energy ours. Pulsing arpeggios are interwoven with handclaps and brightly pulsing patterns, like a flashing display on a newly minted circuit board or a small Baltic town at Christmastime. When “2016” stops and re-starts, it’s as if to suggest a new year, a new perspective, a new frame of mind: loss turned into gain, sorrow into grateful remembrance. One thinks, who wouldn’t want to be remembered in this way?
CoH also translates the original mono recordings into funky stereo, most apparent in the wandering synths of “Impossible Machinery”. Here those pulses and dots travel around the speakers, pausing here and there to pick up a stick or gleaming stone. After a brief slowdown in “Overbeat”, things get really busy in the finale, which tops out at nearly 160 b.p.m. It’s hard to be sad when the tempos are moving this fast, and perhaps that’s the point. Everett’s life went by too swiftly, yet thanks in part to CoH, it will not be forgotten. (Richard Allen)