Posts Tagged ‘Double Negative’

Low’s 12th album is awash in noise – static, electrical hum, broken down electronics. Over 11 songs, these forces work to obscure Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s voices, wrapped together as always in close harmony. Recorded at Justin Vernon’s April Base with producer BJ Burton, the album implodes the Low template and builds something terrifying and confusing in its place. Many songwriters have attempted to document the pressing anxiety of our overloaded information age; with Double Negative, Low processes the ugliness of our age without abandoning their signature haunting beauty.

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Slowcore pioneers Low first introduced electronics to their moody, minimal instrumental palette cautiously, on 2015’s Ones and Sixes; the change, partially brought about by working with producer BJ Burton, helped revitalize both their sound and creativity. On Double Negative(also recorded with Burton), those electronics become a key component, truly directing the album—warping vocals (opener “Quorum” feels like a constantly-interrupted transmission), incorporating rhythmic noise (“Dancing and Blood”), adding a glacial effect to guitars (“Poor Sucker”). It took the group nearly two years of trial and error to craft. This is all true, but it doesn’t capture what a terrifying, majestic, heavy gut-punch of an album Double Negative is, how emotionally affecting it is, how it feels like an ice cave one crawls into to find solace from worse weather and to escape potential predators. A stunning album, one that reveals new depths with every play.

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Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.

To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.

This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear.

‘Double Negative’ (Release date: September 14, 2018)

Low have shared a new video for “Rome (Always in the Dark)” which was directed by Aaron Anderson and Eric Timothy Carlson. The collage-like video accentuates the intense nature of the track, an insistent march forcing its way through the din of the album with a damn-the-torpedoes tenacity. “Let’s turn this thing up before they take us out…”

The album cover for Double Negative was created by longtime collaborator, English artist, Peter Liversidge.

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In 2018, Low as a band will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.

Featuring the music videos “Quorum” “Dancing and Blood” and “Fly” from Low’s upcoming album Double Negative (Release Date: September 14, 2018)

This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.

Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?.

Low. A band from Duluth, Minnesota, formed in 1993. Featuring Alan Sparhawk on vocals and guitar and Mimi Parker on vocals and drums and Steve Garrington on bass. Sparhawk and Parker are married with two children; they first met in fourth grade in rural Minnesota. Garrington is the latest addition to the band, longtime bassist Zak Sally previously replaced original bassist John Nichols and Sally departed the group after the release of Great Destroyer.

Low released its first album, I Could Live in Hope, in 1994 (producer by Kramer) on Vernon Yard Records. Pegged as “slowcore,” due to the band’s minimalist soundscapes and the beautiful harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker, which stood in stark contrast to the era’s fascination with “grunge.” Low continued to work with varied producers and released a constant stream of critically acclaimed albums (e.g., Long Division, Curtain Hits the Cast, Things We Lost in the Fire), one-offs, collaborations and other miscellany, including a classic Christmas album, aptly titled Low Christmas. Throughout, Low have toured the world.