LOW

DOU­BLE NEG­A­TIVE (Sub Pop/Fly­ing Out)

Metro Magazine NZ - - Albums -

They come from Du­luth, Min­nesota, have been go­ing since 1993, and these days the “group” is just life and mu­si­cal part­ners Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, both of them Mor­mons. Their “slow­core” mu­sic is a take on coun­try rock that makes the leisurely pace of the Cow­boy Junkies sound like it’s freaked by speed. And their new al­bum is awe­some.

Do they wash in their clothes, or ride around on bi­cy­cles, bug­ging peo­ple about their be­liefs? Who knows? They cer­tainly carry no ob­vi­ous rem­nants of re­li­gion into their mu­sic, which is as sin­gu­lar as can be, and is so emo­tion­ally weighty that it’s like medicine for the emo­tion­ally dis­turbed.

Yes, dear reader, this isn’t mu­sic for the faint-hearted, and may prove to be an al­bum that gets pulled out only rarely, when es­pe­cially strong medicine is re­quired. And Dou­ble Neg­a­tive, as the name spells out defini­tively,

isn’t a pic­nic in the park. What it does is take Low’s trade­marked sound and put it through the blender.

What makes it so be­guil­ing is the con­trast be­tween the sonic in­ter­fer­ence caused by bru­tal sound ma­nip­u­la­tion and the frag­ments of the duo’s gor­geous singing and songs that are left float­ing around like ghosts.

Where most mu­si­cians work with the clas­sic build­ing blocks of song as per­formed by stereo­typ­i­cal line-ups,

Low work against the grain by de­con­struct­ing; they all but de­mol­ish those struc­tures with great blocks of noise. This dis­con­cert­ing wall of drone and tex­tu­ral ob­fus­ca­tion il­lu­mi­nates what’s left of song. Like a redacted doc­u­ment, the blocked-out let­ters are un­touch­able, so what’s left be­comes pre­cious, vi­tal, hint­ing at un­known hor­rors and plea­sures.

Son­i­cally, Dou­ble Neg­a­tive is an al­bum of dy­namic ex­tremes, but there’s some­thing hushed and hym­nal at its core. On a track like “Danc­ing & Blood” it’s like a heart beat­ing so hard the blood ves­sels are set to burst, and it’s both mu­si­cally bold and orig­i­nal and emo­tion­ally po­tent. It’s a record that can join the ex­alted com­pany of other rare plea­sures like Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden or Scott Walker’s Tilt: al­bums that change the way we lis­ten to mu­sic, al­bums in a genre of one.

IF YOU LIKE YOUR MU­SI­CAL MEDICINE STRONG, AND DOU­BLE NEG­A­TIVE WORKS A TREAT, THEN HAVE A LIS­TEN TO MY BLOODY VALEN­TINE’S

1991 CLAS­SIC, LOVE­LESS.

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