Low, Songs for a Dead Pilot
Low: Alan Sparhawk (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Mimi Parker (vocals, percussion); Zak Sally (bass).
Additional personnel: Bethany Legge (vocals); Chris Freeman (keyboards).
The Flag Strings: Tresa Ellickson (viola); Jaron Childs, Cassandra Legge (cello).
Released between the band's third and fourth studio albums, SONGS FOR A DEAD PILOT is a six-song EP on which Low adds a string section and keyboards to its sound. The album also marks the band's first release on the hip Chicago indie label Kranky, a label that boasts many other like-minded ambient experimenters.
The collection opens with "Will the Night," a song so echo-laden that it is almost impossible to make out the lyrics. "Condescend" starts off like many Low songs, with a lone guitar. The guitar is soon joined by a mournful string section that suits the band's mood remarkably well. "Down By the Wires" is another Low epic (like "Do You Know How to Waltz?" from THE CURTAIN HITS THE CAST) that for nearly half its length, features individually strummed, heavily reverbed guitar notes that sound like humming high-tension wires. "Be There" is built around a dull, thumping beat that sounds like someone stomping in a concrete tunnel surrounded by water. This is essential Low listening--perfect for when you are all alone and the neon signs from the street are all that illuminate your room.