Low - review of Bombscare
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Low & Spring Heel Jack, Bombscare

from The War Against Silence 290, "Getting Smaller", 17 August 2000.

Low themselves appear most recently on what I initially thought was a split EP with Spring Heel Jack, but is really a joint EP, four songs co-written by Spring Heel Jack's John Coxon and Ashley Wales and Low's Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk, played by Coxon and Wales and sung by Parker and Sparhawk, on the London label Tugboat. If I'd realized this was a collaboration, I'd have avoided it, like I avoided the album of Low remixes. Low are singular and precious, to me, and I have no interest in hearing their music repurposed in any way. Spring Heel Jack usually do Jungle, and Low-as-Jungle is one of the more spectacularly misguided innovations I can think of. That absurdity must have occurred to Coxon and Wales, too, as for this EP they put aside their usual agenda and instead concentrate on providing Mimi and Alan with an accompaniment that has the same spirit as the ones they play for themselves, but completely different components. "Bombscare" has piano, plucked strings, rumbling timpani and helicopter noises. "Hands So Small" has piano, bass, breathing, doors slamming. Most of "So Easy So Far" sounds like an orchestra tuning up across the hall from a player-piano testing facility, but for a few measures here and there the interlocking cycles suddenly cohere into a Spirit of Eden-like trance. "Way Behind" has banging piano, an intent percussion loop, ringing steel drums and some sort of fake horns, but as often with Rachel's songs, its nominal cacophony strikes me more like near-silence amplified until the smallest creaks and whirs fill the air. Mimi and Alan, for their part, sing the way they always do, as if they know things about time that nobody else is prepared to comprehend. The success of this unlikely venture makes me wonder whether this EP is the beginning of a pilgrimage, if Low now plan to wander the planet, teaching their secret to one band from each genre. For about three seconds, this seems like a brilliant idea to me. And then I think about Helloween.

- glenn mcdonald (this review is copyrighted by him, 2000)


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