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Low
Ones and Sixes
Sub Pop Records / Playground

'In our 20+ years of writing songs, I've learned that no matter how escapist, divergent, or even transcendent the creative process feels, the result is more beholden to what is going on at the moment. It's hard to admit that one is so influenced by what is in front of us. Doesn't it come from something magical and far away? No, it comes from here. It comes from now.' (Alan Sparhawk, Low)

Low has been rolling on as a small unit for more than 20 years, and Ones and Sixes - their 11th album - follows two years after the very fine The Invisible Way, of which I wrote: 'The Invisible Way is another tranquilizer from Low, and I guess they'll continue to release fine albums via their Chairkicker's Music HQ forever.' Of course they do. They seem to be on an unstoppable mission of delivering breath-taking songs from the shadowy side of the pop world. Ones and Sixes was recorded at Justin Vernon's April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. This time, they have taken control of the production duties themselves, as the album was co-produced by Low along with engineer BJ Burton. Last album was produced by Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco fame). This time, Wilco's drummer Glenn Kotche has added his skills to some of the tracks. Besides that, singing/song writing couple Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals), plus bass player Steve Garrington have done the rest of the magic that shines here.

The first taster "No Comprende" hooked me instantly. Two other 'digital singles' have been launched, "Lies" and "What Part of Me", raising the expectations in prior to the album's release. "No Comprende" is spectacular, I think, and the album unveils a line of songs going for your throat, your mind, your heart - making you snap for air. This album is a hair-raising experience. Low has (almost) created and refined their own sub-genre, low-core. At least, they have cut their little diamond-songs perfectly. Their low-voiced and indeed electric music is a collection of slowly imploding songs. Every other second, you expect their songs to explode, to ignite, to burst into flames - but everything is under total control by Alan and Mimi. From the soft opening with "Gentle", via the amazing "No Comprende" and the stunning beauty of "Lies", this album is an epic journey. "Congregation". "No End" (hey, this one almost makes me think of the ...Stone Roses!?). "Into You". "What Part of Me". "Kid in the Corner". "The Innocents". "Landslide". Until the ebb and fade of "DJ". Everything is sparse, brittle and gentle, but the outcome, the final result, is massive, powerful and spellbinding. The inner power of their songs sounds like something almost being supernatural. My guess is that Low easily could have performed at Oslo's Inferno metal festival blowing the audience away (Owen Pallett has done so), as the intensity of their songs almost feels overwhelming, at times almost scaring. This is noise as quiet as noise can be. Ones and Sixes is possibly Low's best album. It shines, it glows, it sparkles, and it burns with a low-voiced intensity.

'I'm not going to tell you what this record is about because I have too much respect for that moment when you come to know it for yourself.' (Alan Sparhawk, Low). Hear, hear, Alan Sparhawk. The experience is hard to describe. It can only be recommended without any reservations.

Copyright © 2015 H. Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Low articles/reviews: C'mon, Low-talk with Mimi Parker, Musik-Tanz-Club, Cologne, Germany, 01.11.1999, No Comprende, Some Hearts (At Christmas Time), The Great Destroyer, The Invisible Way, Things We Lost In The Fire, Trust, Whelan's, Dublin, 18.11.2000.

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