Low/The Curtain Hits The Cast

Long a favorite band of mine, Low was formed in Duluth Minn. in 1993. Popularizing the sub-culture of ‘slowcore’, the band now consists of three core members Alan Spearhawk/Vocals and Guitar, Mimi Parker/Drums and Vocals and new bassist Steve Garrington. Released in 1996, The Curtain Hits The Cast was the bands 3rd proper release.

Anon—-Greeted from the onset with a deep bass strum and a gently brush of the cymbals, Alan enters with a vocal that matches the tone of the music perfectly at times. When he and Mimi join voices it is truly a thing of beauty. Sometimes, two people are just meant to sing together and these two are the epitome of that theory. Mimi has a nice slightly metallic edge to her voice and is so complimentary to Alan’s higher tenor, that at times it is breathtaking.

The Plan—-Mimi delivers an absolutely soul stirring vocal that is so raw and clear, every perfection and imperfection shines through with out shame. When she joins forces with a very quiet background from Alan, it brings tears to your eyes. The musical tempo is maddeningly slow and sad, but the entire composition arrives with a beautiful bow wrapped around it….it is truly a gift.

Over The Ocean—-Perhaps one of the bands best known compositions, the song features everything that is magical about this partnership. The guitar sound has a nice reverb to it, Alan hits a tenor tone that is wonderful, added to by Mimi’s exquisite tender alto. This is beauty personified.

Mom Says—-A Freudianjourney through the land of ‘slowcore’. The lyrical content is disturbing and familiar. Alan sings in a voice so haunted with the past that it takes you back to memories better off forgotten. The gentle harmonies at the mid point of the song, driven by the loud up front slow driving bass guitar is masterful. WOW!! At the end of the song, Spearhawk sings…Mom says, I ruined her body…”….you just sit and think about things!

Coattails—-The song begins right off with a pleasant plodding guitar that ushers in Mimi in a trembling, naked voice. The pace of the music is so slow that it almost makes me crazy and fall in love at the same time. Mimi has a beautiful haunt to her voice. This release is 16 years old!….I never tire of it.

Standby—-Beginning with just a simple strum, Alan delivers a nice vocal that is even in sound and tone, as Mimi enters the scene we are again treated to a tour de force of beauty. Wonderful…short and sweet.

Laugh—-Again, greeting us with an almost stillness, the guitar becomes more prominent. The chord progression becomes more pronounced and louder, taking on an almost blues sound at an excruciatingly slow pace…of course…blessed beauty! The vocals are minimal yet effective. The music is a beautiful, cloud free landscape of bright hot sun!

Lust—-Continuing on the theme of musical introductions, the song progresses nicely and Alan enters the fray with a painful tenor that draws blood from deep in your heart. When Mimi joins the fray, you catch your breath and reach for the next one. Such beauty and intricate delivery is rare. This is a band at it’s finest. Although they have grown more nosier as of late, I still love to grab this stuff when the mood hits me. Fan-freakin’-tastic! The music builds and builds….slow and plodding to a great release.

Stars Gone Out—-Very percussive at the onset, Alan again enters the fray with a quiet high tenor that so pleases my palate. Mimi is heard very quiet in the very back ground and the voices come together is a louder fashion for the second verse. God…I hope these two never get divorced. That always ruins the great partnerships!. A beautiful, intricate, melodious treat.

Same—-Somewhat noisier in tone, the hum in the background is growing and growing in sound to match the despair and disgust of the vocal. It is amazing how well the instruments work together. The ambiance of the song is quiet desperation, the lyrics are full of disdain for the same old life. Wonderful.

Do You Know How To Waltz?—-Blessing us with the duo combination of voices, Alan and Mimi serenades us in a quiet and introspective journey. Sometimes Mmi has such a ‘metallic’ quality to her voice. I can’t explain it…it just makes me think of shiny metal. Beautiful and intricate, the song is a masterful delivery of beauty and heartache.

Dark—-A brief Spanish style guitar introduces Alan singing songs about life’s lessons and the crippling fear of the dark…for some people. Only lasting a brief 60 seconds, the song is impacted and powerful.

***** out of 5


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