Currently comprised of founding members, and married couple Alan Sparhawk (guitar, vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums) along with Steve Garrington (bass), the Duluth, MN-based critically applauded indie rock trio Low initially formed back in 1993 — and although they’ve had their share of lineup changes, the trio have developed a reputation for being pioneers of a subgenre commonly called slowcore, which focuses on slowed down tempos and minimalist arrangements, centered around the gorgeous and achingly earnest harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker. While the band’s members have largely disapproved of the term slowcore, they’ve managed to eventually shrug off its strictures, recording a beloved Christmas album, as well as having a long-held reputation for a magnetic and powerful stage show.
Last year, the band celebrated its 25th anniversary together and instead of comfortably going on a victory lap or even resting on the laurels of past accolades and achievements, the band released what may arguably be their most uncompromisingly defiant, brazenly abrasive, challenging and yet gorgeous album in their catalog to date, the B.J. Burton-produced Double Negative. The album, which continued their ongoing collaboration with the producer of Ones and Sixes found the band desiring to go even further with Burton’s aesthetic and sonic palette, to see what someone, who as Sparhawk has described as “a hip-hop guy” could really do with their music.
Instead of obsessively writing, revising and rehearsing in Duluth, as they normally would do before heading to the studio, the members of Low went down to Eau Claire, WI with rough ideas and sketches that they would work with Burton on in what may arguably be among the most collaborative writing sessions with a producer they’ve ever had. During those sessions, Burton and Low would spend their time building pieces up, breaking them up, breaking them down again and building up again until the material found its proper purpose and force. Although it took them two years to write and record, Double Negative may arguably be considered — by future generations — as a document of our current sociopolitical moment — loud, contentious, chaotic, abrasive, jarring. The material finds Sparhawk’s and Parker’s vocals desperately fighting against an overwhelming tide of noise, other times submerged beneath it. And while the material is a decided and radical sonic departure, the band maintains the gorgeous and achingly heartfelt quality that’s their trademark.
One of the album’s many standout tracks “Fly” is an eerily atmospheric yet stunning gorgeous track in which Mimi Parker’s vocals float ethereally over a bed of gently swirling, fluttering and glitchy electronics, shimmering guitars and twinkling keys. The members of Low are about to embark on a relatively short tour that will include two New York area dates, September 13, 2019 at Basilica Hudson and September 14, 2019 at Murmrr — and just before their tour, they released a remix by Philadelphia-based producer and DJ King Britt. Interestingly, the King Britt remix continues the abrasive yet ethereal quality of the original and Mimi Parker’s gorgeous vocals while adding a decidedly industrial electro pop quality to the proceedings It’s a loving take on the material that’s one part continuation of the original’s intent and purpose, one part loving conversation between the remixer and the band. “As a longtime Low fan, a huge amount of respect went into the mix,” King Britt says of his remix. ” I loved their new sonic direction, which spoke to my Fhloston Paradigm project. My mix was a response and continuation in a way of a magical space they already created. Mimi Parker’s vocals were some of her best. A true honor.”