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A new start for the Minnesota trio.It’s that tricky period between the soundcheck and the show in the cavernous bowels of London’s Scala. Both Zak Sally and Alan Sparhawk of Low are unfailingly polite. Mimi Parker, the fluttering vocal and percussive heartbeat of the band, is resting.
They’re here in advance of their seventh album, The Great Destroyer, a breathtaking collection of songs and a marked progression for the band, now with SubPop. They’ve been working with producer Dave Fridmann (the “fifth Flaming Lip”). “He’s just real sensitive to music and what you’re trying to get out of your recordings,” says Zak. Alan agrees: “It was more of an interactive project with him.”
And it certainly is different. Gone (though not completely) are the breathless acoustics of Secret Name, as Alan acknowledges. “There’s something in there that’s a little louder. It’s not like we sat around and planned that but we did recognize it when it came along. We tried not to be too precious with those things instead of stepping back from them.”
The squall of guitar on When I Go Deaf is a case in point. “We were trying to find ways to break apart the myth of what guitars are supposed to do,” explains Alan. Zak nods. “Alan would go in and we’d just know that there needed to be some absurd-sounding guitar and he’d do an absurd-sounding guitar, and it was like, ‘Can you make that more absurd?’ In the past we’d have been chicken to do that, even if it was the most appropriate sound.”
They seem genuinely excited by the possibilities. “Making this record woke us up to the idea that we can do whatever we want now,” says Alan. “We don’t need to feel limited by whatever we’re feeling. Our minds are aswim with ‘Hey, can we try that?’ That’s what’s exciting, we’re starting to prove we’re more than just a slow-quiet band. Which I always knew we were.”
Low – The Great Destroyer, released 24 January 05 on Rough Trade.
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