Nearly 25 years after their debut, Low are still doing more with less | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Nearly 25 years after their debut, Low are still doing more with less


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The phrase “glacial pace” could have been invented solely to describe Low, a trio from Duluth, Minnesota, who specialize in slow-burning minimalism. It’s the kind of aesthetic that would have grown old after a few years for most bands, but after nearly a quarter of a century together Low instead continue to expand their boundaries with songs that mix the fervor of gospel into spectral soundscapes. Any sense of artistic indulgence has not overshadowed the standout beauty of their melodies, as evidenced a few years ago when rock god Robert Plant chose two Low songs (“Monkey” and “Silver Rider”) for his newly launched group Band of Joy. Low’s most recent album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop), is decisively more sparse than previous efforts; the constant thread remains the bright, emotionally rich harmonies of guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker, who tends to rely on only a snare and hi-hat (Steve Garrington rounds out the group on bass). On “Spanish Translation,” a chilled backdrop of leisurely beats and thin guitar lines is suddenly shattered by a chorus powered by a wall of voices that belong within church rafters. Dynamics like that are what makes Low’s live shows such brawny experiences; despite the laid-back pace, the band possess a strong element of aggression, which comes out unexpectedly in performances that leave concertgoers at the edge of their seats. Low don’t cavalierly flip from soft to loud; instead, they dwell within spaces that lead to both ends of the spectrum. Their stop at Constellation is part of a mini tour that—according to early reports—features new songs.   v

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