Monday, 10 September 2018

Low 'Double Negative' (ALBUM REVIEW)



Celebrating their silver anniversary, Minnesota based Low show no signs of slowing down as the band heads into its Autumn years, their latest release ‘Double Negative’ making it a dozen long players since their inception back in 1993, the husband and wife duo of Alan Sparhawk (guitar, vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums, vocals) still managing to balance family life with creating and promoting their unique blend of woozy drone.

Released on Sub-Pop records, ‘Double Negative’ largely came together from improvised sessions at April Base Studios, the venue for their previous recording ‘Ones and Sixes’. With producer BJ Burton once more at the controls, his creative input also helped put meat on the band’s initial song ideas, making the record a truly collaborative piece.       

Credit: Shelly Mosman

Opener ‘Quorum’, a spaced out introduction setting the tone for the rest of the record, creates the effect of the listener seemingly coming round after being anaesthetized. That same medically induced drone seeps into the soothing morass of ‘Dancing and Blood’, Parker’s alluring yet distant vocal hook drifting in and out of the mix, the track seemingly flickering in and out of consciousness.

Despite the minimalist lo-fi nature of the material, there’s still ample melodic and harmonic moments to mollify and comfort the listener at every turn, despite some of the tracks feeling a little half finished; but hey what do I know, and on repeated listens, this seems to make more sense? 

Third track ‘Fly,’ is a deliciously ethereal slice of soul, whereas the hymnal harmonies on ‘Always Up’ and ‘Always Trying to Work it Out’ are groggy yet hedonistic at the same time, the band determined to create increasingly otherworldly soundscapes, none more so than on ‘The Son, The Sun’, where you’re taken through a sonic wormhole to emerge, perhaps reborn on the other side.   
    

It’s not until ‘Dancing and Fire’ that Low’s organic side comes to the fore, gently strummed guitar slowly building the song to a brooding climax, the sound so thick you could spread it on a slice of bread, continuing into ‘Rome (Always in the Dark)’ where the band attempt to rock out through the treacly sound without quite managing it. Nevertheless, the prep work is done as closer ‘Disarray’ proves the most accessible moment of all, dense vocal harmonies wrapped around yet another keyboard drone outro.

Words - Mike Price

Double Negative is out September 14th via Sub Pop

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