Mask of Birth

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First released as an LP by Raster-Noton in late 1999, Mask of Birth has been reissued (in a remastered edition) on CD by Mego in 2002. But the dates to remember are 1997-1998, when Ivan Pavlov, aka COH, recorded these tunes, making this his first completed album. The packaging includes the sentence "new disco for the new human." Should we take it to the letter? One thing is sure, Mask of Birth is about the closest COH came to techno (with the exception of the EP Love Uncut). If the nine LP tracks adopt a sharper "song format" than his later material, don't expect a thumping beat to dance to. Already quite experimental, the music plays with data recombination, digitalized analog tones, and rhythmic glitches. Hints of disco can be found in "Hurt Later," "Terra Beyond (Terra)," or "Boog." If the album was all tracks like these we could think COH had decided to adapt Kraftwerk's late-'70s sound for the late '90s -- which would give the above quote all its meaning -- but it goes way beyond that in cuts like "In Spaces Between" and "Gearin II," very abstract laptop constructions. The harshness of the chosen tones can make for a harassing listen depending on your state of mind (especially when compared to the more ambient but very playful mood of Iron). The CD reissue adds two bonus tracks: the three-part "Komputer Trilogik für Or" and "Waltz Nuevo No.1" (No. 2 appeared on Iron). People with an interest in techno may find this album easier to get into than COH's other releases.

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