Low - review of the Exit Papers EP
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Low - The Exit Papers EP (Temporary Residence) - 9/12

Low is looking for a career change, or, at least, they are looking to better make a career out of the job path they have chosen. After four albums and countless EPs and singles as a quiet, sparse rock band from Minnesota, Low is looking to explore their experimental edge more fully in the hopes that the output can be used to soundtrack movies. This EP, The Exit Papers, is a soundtrack to an imaginary film, and the band will be sending their copies of the EP to movie makers and executives in hopes of getting work writing soundtrack music.

So, what does that mean to you, the Low music fan? Well, hopefully it doesn't mean much. Hopefully, if they do land such a job, it won't totally consume their time, because the music on this EP, while not radically different, is bit of a departure from their sound in any of its past renditions. It would be a shame if the direction their other music was headed stopped for the sake of this sort of work.

However, that's not to say that the music this EP contains is bad. In fact, it is quite good. If it relates to any of Low's past work, it would be the experimental Songs for a Dead Pilot EP. Actually that is not too far off, as the collection of videos the band released in 1999 featured 5 short films by Kirstin Grieve that used material from that EP and Secret Name as a soundtrack. The experimental nature of the songs on that EP--using an odd song structure (or no structure at all), and emphasizing texture over everything else--is even stronger on The Exit Papers. The highlights of the EP are simply profound uses of standard instruments to create dramatic, unworldly texture. The fifth track (all are untitled) using a pounding, persistent drum and guitar rhythm that blossoms with fury when the strings come in. The first track swoons by taking full advantage of Mimi Parker's angelic cooing, the only vocals on this lyricless EP.

The EP, though, is mired down by the 18 minute long fourth track which features, for the most part, band members repeatedly plugging in their guitars to their amps (using the resulting feedback as sound effects). If the other songs were of any lesser quality, this track would totally ruin the EP, but as it is, there are enough other great sounds to skip through that track and still have enough music leftover to make the experience worthwhile.

jim steed
2000 aug 4