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Alternative & Indie - Released September 10, 2021 | Sub Pop Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
There has never been a better metaphor for Low's music than the way singer/co-founder/guitarist Alan Sparhawk recently defined distortion: "sending too much signal into something and then seeing what it does with it. Circuits, when [they] sense too much information, they start shaping the sound and kind of crushing down, that's what distortion is." On the Minnesota band's 13th album, the prevalent distortion sometimes feels less about listening to music and more like an out-of-body experience. (Don't be alarmed: Your speakers are not fuzzing out.) It's there in the glitchy pulse and churning storm of "I Can Wait," and in the vertigo-inducing feedback loop of "Hey." But it's also tempered with that most magical element of Low: the harmonies between Sparhawk and his longtime partner in music and life, Mimi Parker. They're up there with Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons or Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. On "All Night," the music is warped as if melted in the sun but the harmonies remain as ethereal as ever. The couple pull off a terrific trick during the stark grandeur of opener "White Horses," where Sparhwak starts a line, Parker joins in, then he drops out while she sustains. It's spine-chillingly beautiful, even as the background ticking intensifies—like in a movie before a bomb goes off—for a minute and a half. (For the first few songs, such noises bleed from one song to the next, almost like it's one continuous thought.) Low's lyrics can sometimes be obtuse, but dreamy "Don't Walk Away" is so intimate it's almost unbearable. Sparhawk starts off like a '50s crooner (the Platters come to mind), then Parker prettily joins in: "I have slept beside you now/ For what seems a thousand years … Don't walk away/ I can not take any more/ Won this game/ I can not play any more." All the while, there's an indeterminable background whisper, like midnight pillow talk. (Take that song with the lyrics of "White Horses"—"The consequences of leaving/ Would be more cold if I should stay/ Though it's impossible to say, I know/ Still, white horses take us home"—and a story starts to come into focus.) The couple also each have stunning solo turns. "More" comes on in a fury, and Parker stands determined and femme in the face of fearsome guitar storm: "I gave more than what I should've lost/ I paid more than what it would've cost … la la la la ..." Meanwhile, Sparhawk's voice shoots like a beacon of light, so clear and unclouded, on "Days Like These," before the super-cloudy fuzz kicks in; the result is like some gorgeous, twisted hymn. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Sub Pop Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Brilliantly melancholic, the trio of jolly depressives, Low, celebrate 25 years of musical therapy with their album Double Negative released by Sub Pop. 1,000% slow core, the album is a gradual and delicate suction towards the abyss. With the help of BJ Burton, Bon Iver’s producer, Low reveal a very mysterious bit of work, just like an original David Lynch band. The first track, Quorum, sets the tone with some heavy, crackling waves of sound. Double Negative is dark but above all it looks to create a unique sensory experience. Between the almost scary drums and atmospheric vocals, Low trap their prey in a sublime hypnosis. Once under the spell Double Negative’s charm begins to work. Alan Sparhawk’s lyrics finally begin to take form on the track Fly. The singer takes five minutes in order to stabilize the state of his listeners. Moving at this rate, Low can finally manipulate their listeners in every sense. The robotic voice in Tempest and the vocal harmonies of Always Up provoke a feeling of weightlessness which leaves the listener imagining cosmic landscapes. When the synth, the vocoder, Garrington’s bass and Parker’s drums are not present the group uses telluric (earth like) sounds which almost warn of the pending apocalypse, like on the track The Son, the Sun. Terribly amazing, Double Negative goes from metamorphosis to metamorphosis, without ever revealing if the end will be prosperous or tragic. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 19, 2013 | Sub Pop Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2015 | Sub Pop Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Astralwerks

Like so many of their contemporaries, Low are repeatedly lumped into numerous derivative and nondescript headings intended to encompass slow-paced, instrument-driven music that maintains an indie aesthetic. Quite simply, no category can truly reveal the beauty and glory of Low's debut record I Could Live in Hope. Sad core? Not even close! I Could Live in Hope is an incredibly joyous journey of spirit and songwriting sensibility. The record remains patient and sparse throughout (just guitar, bass, high hat, and snare, and angelic vocals by the husband and wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker), but succeeds beautifully. Low truly behold the gift of understatement. Working with long-time producer and New York underground mainstay Kramer, Low examine their own fears and haunting experiences, occasionally linking them with Biblical references, while consoling listeners with warm layers of ethereal vocals and waves of guitar reverberation. Tracks are simple one-word titles but that's all that they require -- too much information would spoil the record's elegance. And that's probably why they open the record with "Words," a song about the overuse and misuse of language, that sets the tone for the entire album, right up to their plaintive and passionate cover of "You Are My Sunshine." Every small nuance of production is evident -- Sparhawk's fingers not quite connecting on a chord change or sliding over a fret and echoing infinitely -- making I Could Live in Hope a true testament to both Low and Kramer's penchant for capturing the lushest of soundscapes. © Ken Taylor /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 21, 2001 | In The Fishtank

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2000 | kranky

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 2011 | Sub Pop Records

No one has ever listened to Low expecting boundless good cheer, but the dour beauty of their best work -- Secret Name, Things We Lost in the Fire, and Trust -- made something deeply rewarding out of the fragile sorrow of their spare melodies and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's voices. However, the bigger and more sonically diverse sound of Low's two albums with producer Dave Fridmann, The Great Destroyer and Drums and Guns, tended to reinforce the increasingly dark and chaotic tone of the group's songwriting, and what once seemed quietly sad now seemed more than a bit troubling. So it's both surprising and reassuring that Low's ninth studio album, C'mon, is also the most hopeful music they've released in quite some time. With the lovely tranquility of the opening tune, "Try to Sleep," and the easy charm of "You See Everything" (which sounds like some lost gem of mid-‘70s soft rock), C'mon is as languid as ever for Low while at the same time suggesting these musicians are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel. C'mon was co-produced and mixed by Matt Beckley, who has previously worked with Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, and Vanessa Hudgens; he's an odd choice to work with Low, but thankfully, he's not afraid to let the album's darker and more contemplative songs sound as dramatic as they should, while adding just the right touch of polish on "Especially Me" and "Something's Turning Over," where the pop undercurrents that often run beneath Sparhawk and Parker's songs bob to the surface. (Beckley also does fine work with Sparhawk and Parker's vocals, which are in splendid form here.) C'mon, like Low's albums with Fridmann, stands apart from the stark minimalism of this band's earlier music, with a number of additional musicians contributing to the sessions (including Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and violinist Caitlin Moe), but this material more successfully adds dynamics and color to Low's melodies while retaining the power of their elemental approach. The dark clouds that have haunted Low are still clearly visible on "Witches" and "$20," but the slow, noisy build to the climax of "Nothing But Heart" is a testament to the very real heart and soul behind their music, and C'mon, while well short of sunny, is an album devoted to the search for answers amidst the darkness, and it's a powerful, deeply moving work from a truly singular band. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Astralwerks

With the molasses-slow ringing of the opening chords of "Violence," Low arrived. The Duluth, Minnesota band had formed two years earlier in 1993, and issued its quietly joyful debut, I Could Live in Hope, in the interim, but sophomore record Long Division saw the band stripping down its already unprecedentedly spare instrumentation to create an atmosphere so lonely, patient, and narcotic that the album created the sensation of being awake in a sad-hearted dream. On their debut, Low's sound was informed by their minimal instrumentation, with guitar, high-register bass notes, and a two-piece drum kit providing the backdrop for Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's angelic harmonies and Kramer's spacious production. The songs on Long Division take that minimalism even further, slowing the tempos and implementing so much negative space that the instruments sometimes fade into complete silence in the space between sparse notes or drum hits. The otherworldly slowness of songs like "Shame" and "See-Through" are representative of the radical amount of space that defines the album, gliding gracefully as a falling leaf floating slowly on the wind. Low were born out of a reaction to the aggressive trudge of early-'90s grunge, so the songs are slow but never plodding. A song like "Turn" begins with a somewhat menacing lurch, but slowly blooms into a mysteriously hopeful climax. Contemporaries like Red House Painters and especially Codeine worked in similar muted colors and pensive tempos, but Low managed to exist outside of the often depressive themes of their peers. Practicing Mormons, Sparhawk and Parker often intoned their understated songs with vaguely religious undertones, hinting at retribution and redemption with foreboding atmospheres and heavy vibes more than overtly cautionary lyrics. The combination of Low's groundbreaking approach to elongating traditional pop music structures paired with Kramer's equally extreme reverb and Echoplex colorings congeal into one of Low's most brilliantly atmospheric statements, and perhaps the most dire in what would be a career that spanned decades. Long Division is a masterwork, somehow simultaneously achieving lushness and emptiness, embodying hope and heartbroken despair with equal force. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1996 | Astralwerks

The Curtain Hits the Cast was Low's first "major" album, taking the indie buzz over their early work to a much larger audience. The band didn't lose anything in the process -- the album shows them still firmly entrenched in the epic, slow, lazy dirges that got them started. The only noticeable changes come in the form of more elaborate production and a shift in the ratio of dark, creepy dirges to pretty, comforting ones (the latter winning out, as evidenced by the album's single, the beautiful "Over the Ocean"). Low is one of those rare bands that has created such a distinct musical world for itself that even major changes can't affect it -- just like every Cocteau Twins album is unmistakably theirs, and always good, listening to any Low recording involves revisiting a wonderful sound that can't be found anywhere else. The Curtain Hits the Cast is more accessible than much of the band's earlier work, but, since it's a Low album, it isn't really that much different -- the album is probably the best introduction to Low's work. © Nitsuh Abebe /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 22, 2021 | Sub Pop Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Astralwerks

Duluth, Minnesota's \slowcore pioneers Low had been impressing live audiences with their slow as molasses cover of Joy Division's "Transmission" well before it was released on the largely unimpressive Joy Division tribute album, A Means to an End. Not content to let their version wither, the band put together this fine EP. "Transmission" is joined by some excellent songs unavailable elsewhere, including the brief but lovely "Bright," a darker version of the band's "Caroline" (called "Caroline 2"), and a cover of Supreme Dicks' "Jack Smith." Transmission EP also marks a couple of firsts for Low. It was the first pairing of the band with producer Steve Albini, who would produce the band's best work, 1999's Secret Name. Another first was a hidden, untitled track that stretched the band into much more experimental territory that they would explore on 1997's Songs for a Dead Pilot. © Josh Modell /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2013 | Chair Kicker's Union

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2015 | Sub Pop Records

If the relative warmth and hopefulness of 2011's C'mon and 2013's The Invisible Way had you wondering if Low were starting to get happy on us after all these years, don't fret -- 2015's Ones and Sixes shows that anxiety and grief are still the dominant emotions in Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's world. While Low's two previous albums boasted production and instrumental accompaniment that brought out an emotional generosity that was a real change from the cool isolation of their best-known work, for Ones and Sixes the group and producer BJ Burton have opted for a stark and chilly sound, dominated by electronic pulsebeats and waves of polished noise that give the songs an unforgiving, alien backdrop. Despite the brushed aluminum sound of much of the album, one of the greatest strengths of Low's work for Sub Pop has been the beauty of Sparhawk and Parker's vocals, with their harmonies sounding even stronger with the passage of time, and that's just as true on Ones and Sixes, as the humanity of their voices gives this music a hint of body heat and warm breath. While that enlivens some tracks like "What Part of Me," the contrast makes the Spartan production sound all the more frigid on "Congregation," "The Innocents," and "Kid in the Corner," and even though the group's guitars and keyboards are still part of the arrangements, ultimately they're playing second fiddle to the electronics. Ones and Sixes is a brave effort that stands apart from much of Low's work, and there are certainly glimpses of their dour beauty on these 12 songs, but in the final analysis this is an album that fails more often than it triumphs. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1997 | kranky

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2013 | Chair Kicker's Union

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2013 | Chair Kicker's Union

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 16, 2020 | Sub Pop

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 14, 2013 | Chair Kicker's Union

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2000 | Temporary Residence Ltd.