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Low – Double Negative

September 24, 2018

My introduction to Low was their 2005 masterpiece The Great Destroyer. That album was blessed five years later by Robert Plant covering two of its songs on his Band of Joy album: “Monkey” and “Silver Rider.”

AllMusic describes Low accurately as a:

Indie trio from northern Minnesota who pioneered slowcore with beautiful, atmospheric songs marked by long, unsettling silences.

Double Negative is on the more experimental side of Low’s repertoire. It is filled with noise and stuttering edits. Yet these sharp edges do nothing to diminish the fundamental beauty of Low – they enhance the beauty. It reminds me of the jagged beauty of a frozen Lake Superior winter shoreline.  The weave of Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s voices are beautiful as always. The beauty of those voices, juxtaposed with industrial noise highlights and enhances those voices.

Low’s Alan Sparhawk stated in City Pages that the album is a reaction to our fractured times:

“This is very much a reaction to what was going on,” Sparhawk says. “It’s very much an expression of… sometimes despair, sometimes confusion, sometimes anger. There’s one line in the album [from “Dancing and Fire”] that I keep coming back to: ‘It’s not the end. It’s just the end of hope.’ A lot of the music on the record feels to me like, it’s very obvious that everything is completely flawed, and we are in a dire and almost traumatic situation here. How do you keep breathing? Once our fight with hope has ended, what now? What then?”

This is not easy listening music, but these are not easy times.

Postscript: I recently attend a Low in store performance at the Electric Fetus. They played a short semi unplugged set. Mid-set Alan Sparhawk solicited questions from the audience. After a little Q&A, I shouted out “Beatles or Stones?”  Sparhawk thought a second – I am paraphrasing here – and endorsed the Beatles. He said that whenever he is struggling for composition inspiration, he pulls out the Beatles’ songbook and plays a few tunes. Not to copy them, but to immerse himself into their songwriting genius and to remind himself how it is done – to be inspired by the boys. Pretty interesting take.


From → Music Reviews

  1. jprobichaud permalink

    Very cool post script. A friend of mine got me into Low a few years ago. All of their albums are solid and you typically know what you’re going to get when you put on one of their albums. I haven’t heard the new one yet though.

  2. I like Low a lot, but only know a few of their records and nothing recent.

  3. I’m all over this. Thanks.

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