Moore Music – Low’s “HEY WHAT”
Listeners of WTIP do not adjust your radio for what you’re about to hear.
This jarring sound, this is intentional. This is music. This is Low. Every year around this time on this segment I try to tie up loose ends, talk about some albums I may have missed the boat on initially or just ran out of time to talk about. For Low, the heralded drone band from Duluth that’s been the iconic musical act of the twin ports for nearly the last 30 years, I hoped to get the group on this station live to talk about this record. That didn’t end up working out, but even so it’s a travesty that I haven’t talked yet about their latest record HEY WHAT that was released in the fall. With this record it’s not more of the same at all, it’s just more.
To listen to Low is to be at once disturbed and hypnotized. You’ve probably heard someone make a comparison to something as a slow-motion car crash. Something terrible you just can’t peel your eyes from. I imagine Low’s music as the most impeccably beautiful version of that where metal and glass twists and glitters like a dance, hauntingly dark and bright all at once. To see them live is to see a trio totally embodying that emotion. Alan Sparhawk is a man possessed when he enters the drone space. Their sound can be extremely loud, dissonant, disorienting, but always captivating.
A huge reason for why Low is able to make even the most jarring songs into jams is with their incredible vocal arrangements. Mimi Parker’s voice is so rich and powerful and can harmonize with Alan’s lamenting croon perfectly. She takes more of a front seat vocally than ever before and has the best tracks on the record. The most amazing part of the singing on HEY WHAT though is the production. Across many songs the vocals are totally dry – which is to say it is just their voices into the mic with no additional effects or processing at all. It’s such a shocking and vulnerable style that I wish more artist used – and on top of the unbelievably complex layers of distorted kill-switch guitar loops it’s an even more stunning contrast.
It takes a while to get into the mood for, but this is a stunning record. Days Like These, specifically is the perfect pandemic song, expressing the constant anxiety and frustration these endless dim days have given us more clearly than any I’ve heard written since the world shut down nearly 2 years ago. Even if it is not your thing, and I wouldn’t blame you if its not, I think its worth your time to check out the latest from the most incredible band every birthed on the North Shore, and see if you can feel the beauty that shouts through the chaos.