Low - review of Secret Name
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Low, Secret Name (Kranky)

from Metroland, Albany, NY, May 1999.

The Duluth, Minnesota trio Low have made their way through the course of a half dozen-plus releases. They started out exploring just how slow music can be played without actually stopping. As with any meaningful search they have found that there is a whole world of rhythmic life in sparely punctuated propulsion. They were originally lumped in with a host of other bands under the banner of "Slow Core," but with all simple labels, it both trivializes and misses the point of their efforts. Secret Name is Low's finest work to date (as the newest work by any viable artist always should be). Reductive arrangements are a tricky beast. A lone voice with a barely strummed guitar and the swish of a brush on a snare might seem to be the simplest component building block in ensemble playing, but it is the most difficult. Nakedly exposed, the breathing of every player can be felt as the instruments and voices lock together in gorgeously articulated concert. Richly autumnal, Low's is the sound of leaves falling on a windless day, of snow falling on a silent, frozen lake. Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk's harmonizing create melancholy tensions which evoke a spiritual core without invoking any specific spirituality. Palpably emotional and broadly humane, their singing floats out of the mood, sounding like seekers looking for simple comfort and warmth.

-- David Greenberger


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