- 13 Sep 18
After 25 years and 11 studio albums, Minnesotan trio Low return with a moody, ambient piece of work that pleases and baffles in equal measure. Enlisting the services of producer BJ Burton (James Blake, Sylvan Esso) to craft a series of multi-layered soundscapes, married co-songwriters Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and bassist Steve Garrington have created a fascinating collection of dream pop curios. Recorded between tours over the course of two years, the songs were revisited and finessed, with Burton also chipping in on the songwriting front.
When the album works – as in, when the songs can be made out through the din of noise – it is sublime. A particular highlight is ‘Fly’, which boasts a typically exquisite vocal from Parker, while ‘Rome (Always in the Dark)’, builds an immense wall of sound over sinister drum pounding. But the album does occasionally feel fragmented; some tracks play like early draft ideas in need of proper structure.
Such an avant garde enterprise may baffle newcomers – and even some long-term fans. After a brief flirtation with the mainstream courtesy of some notable soundtrack appearances, Double Negative is an unapologetic restating of Low’s underground credentials. But for those willing to persevere through the excessive vocal distortion and speaker-punishing guitar noise, you may find your Kid A in here.
There are moments of sheer beauty. ‘Dancing And Blood’ moves from piercing industrial drone to delicate balladry over the course of six epic minutes.
At times, Double Negative is the proverbial difficult listen, but there are enough standout moments to make it worthy of investigation.