Low - CMJ's review of Things We Lost In The Fire
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Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire" (Kranky)

from Metroland, Albany, NY, February 2001.

The latest album by Minnesota's masters of the ethereal and slow finds the trio adding a couple surprises. The opening number, "Sunflower," not only notches the beat up a notch, it also sports a rhythmic foundation that pushes and pulls against itself. It opens in a familiar guise, as one strummed guitar delineates the basic architecture of the song. But with the entrance of the drums, a motion begins to occur not unlike the subtleties of windshield wipers slowly getting in and then out of sync with the rhythm of a turn signal. Granted, it's not not a huge change on most scales, but given the adherence to minimalism that has been the band's stock in trade, it's significant. However, everything else remains as it has been throughout their nearly decade long career. The heart and center of their sound are the voices of Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk, singly and in duet. The spare harmonies evoke deep emotions, from the melancholy to the spiritual. An incredible resilience in the compositions and arrangements allows the simple components of a voice or two and a strummed guitar and occasional drum or keyboard to assume the proportions of a vast cathedral. Producer Steve Albini has been guiding Low over the course of their last few albums, as they've grown past the label of "slowcore" into a world of their own. By any label or measure, this is gorgeous and powerful music.

-- David Greenberger


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