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LOW Double Negative gets 7/10


Low
Double Negative
Sub Pop

7/10

Minnesota trio Low have been doing this music caper for over 25 years. The masters of minimalism have been doing the quiet/loud thing better than most during this time. The recent phase of the band has seen them have a more political bent as well as reflecting on mental illness. The current climate puts both of these topics at the forefront of the mind, and is certainly reflected on the weighty Double Negative.

On an album where Low explore humanity and modern society, they embrace technology more than they ever have in the past. The further immersion into the use of electronica has changed the rhythmic palate of the band significantly. Simple snares are replaced with discordant booms and bass lines with fuzzy incongruent explosions that find the band maintain their strongly emotive delivery with a brand new sonic tang.

Quorum sounds like a song that has been blown apart instead of one that has been crafted together. The distorted glitches are menacing as they pulse through the tune as if in opposition to the truncated vocals that come and go as if someone is allowing them to escape from the depths of a sewer for fleeting moments. It is a song like nothing that the band has presented before, and its appeal is aided by its lack of compliance to expectation.

While the opening track may be the most extreme example of the ‘new’ Low sound, there are twists and turns throughout each tune. Alan Sparhawk’s voice is more intact on Always Trying To Work It Out, which allows for some trademark harmonies with Mimi Parker, and is the melodically strong point of the album. Dancing And Fire and Poor Sucker revisit the minimalist oeuvre, but it is Disarray that rounds out the album with a return to the dark textures that serve them so well on this release.

Double Negative is a soundtrack for the apocalypse. On headphones it swims around you and consumes you with dread and beauty in equal measure, played through a set of speakers it is a foreboding mess.

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

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