Low, Long Division
Low: Alan Sparhawk (vocals, guitar); Zak Sally (bass); Mimi Parker (drums, background vocals).
For its second album, LONG-DIVISION, Low drops the tone considerably from the band's previous outing. Each note seems to exist in its own vacuum, reverberating until it fades out. Far sparer than anything else one is likely to hear under the guise of "alternative music," this record is all about negative space--how each sound reminds you of the silence it replaces. This time around, new bass player Zak Sally, who replaced John Nichols, joins Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.
When the record opens with the shimmering guitar notes of "Violence," and Sparhawk sings "Wasted good silverware on you," it comes off not as the insult you'd expect, but rather as a one of saddest things you've ever heard. Another standout track is "Streetlight." Though less than a minute long, the song's simple guitar line and four-line lyric paint an astonishingly vivid picture--the kind that other artists seem to expend three times the effort to create. Low's lyrical ability at understatement is matched by the group's sparse music--one shiny guitar, a warm bass, and Parker's two piece drum kit. Nothing else is necessary. This record defines late-night, all-alone music.
Alternative Press (8/95, p.91) - "...Low are saying much more with less than perhaps any other major alternative band. They may get a lot of people to shelve weary notions about tempo and temperament while they bring new complexities to age-old dilemmas of the blood and spirit."
Q Magazine (4/97, p.148) - 4 stars (out of 5) - "...LONG DIVISION remains compellingly comprehensible."
Option (9-10/95, p.119) - "...there's much more to Low than art house mannerisms and Galaxie 500-flavored production. This Kramer-produced album lives up to the implications of its title: ponderous, indefinite, drawn out and, ultimately bewildering..."