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Low

Low

Rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

The underground rock group Lowa trio that often draws comparisons to acts like Galaxie 500, Codeine, and Red House Painterscreates music that defies conventional rock and may leave typical pop audiences both disoriented and mesmerized. Their minimalist formula centers on low volume, a slow tempo, sparse instrumentation, whispered vocals, and personal, carefully thought-out lyricism. According to drummer and vocalist Mimi Parker, the concept of silence remains central to achieving Lows atmospheric quality. We like to play with time and space in our music, she revealed to Brad Jones of Westward. We intentionally create gaps in between notes, because we feel theyre just as important to our music as the music itself.

Low, formed in the town of Duluth, Minnesota, in April of 1993, also features guitarist and vocalist Alan Sparhawk, who is married to Parker, and bassist Zak Sally, a friend who joined the group as a permanent member in 1994; he replaced original bass player John Nichols. Sparhawk grew up in Utah until the age of nine, when his family relocated to Minnesota, and Parker was raised in a farming community in the northern part of the state and played drums for her high schools marching band. The couple first met in Duluth while attending college. Both Parker and Sparhawk, who attended Brigham Young University his freshman year in 1986, practice Mormonism (Parker converted when the two married), but they do not consider Low a religious or preaching sort of band. Sally, in fact, does not subscribe to any organized religion.

Initially, Low existed as a reaction to the popularity of grunge rock. Over time, though, the trios original motive to poke fun at the mainstream evolved into a preferred means of self-expression. It was a bit of a novelty at first, but then we started enjoying it, Sparhawk admitted to Applesauce magazines Omar Rodriguez. It was rebellious at first, kinda against the grain. It became something that was fun to do and seemed satisfying and exhilarating.

As word spread of Lows experimental sound, they attracted fans such as Shimmy Disc producer Kramer. He soon invited the trio to visit his Noise studio in New Jersey, assisted Low in recording demo tapes, and helped the group land a recording contract with Vernon Yard Recordings. Kramer subsequently produced Lows first two full-length albums:I Could Live in Hope, released in 1994, and Long Division, released in 1995. Low allows each note to hang in space, to breathe and shimmer momentarily before the next tone emerges. Lows debut is a gorgeous exercise in minimalism, a CMJ reviewer said ofI Could Live in Hope in 1994. Both albums possessed an understated, sublime feel that immediately grabbed the attention of independent music fans and critics. Lows reputation continued to grow throughout 1995 and 1996, during which time the group appeared on a Joy Division tribute album entitled A Means to an End, covering the song Transmission (expanded for Lows Transmission EP ), and toured with established acts like Soul Coughing, Luna, Pell Mell, and Spectrum.

Also in 1996, Low returned with a third album, The Curtain Hits the Cast, featuring the absorbing, epic track Do You Know How to Waltz? Produced by keyboardist and Pell Mell frontman Steve Fisk, it, too, won critical praises from such sources as Rolling Stone and the CMJ New Music Report. In 1997, Low made their first appearance for the Kranky Records label with the EP Songs for a Dead Pilot. The EP features Born by the Wires, a 13-minute glacially paced exploration of aural textures that finds Sparhawk out front languorously scraping and strumming his guitar as he sings, according to Michael Yockel of the Miami New Times Online. Afterward came Lows acclaimed 1999 album Secret Name, an example of how simplicity and under-statement can result in vivid, powerful songs. The set, which included the ominous Dont Understand, was recorded with producer Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. The hypnotic patterns leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, savoring the clarity of each note and wondering whats to come next, concluded CMJ contributor Wendy Mitchell in an assessment of Secret Name.

That year also saw the release of the groups Christmas album, which included the cover of Little Drummer Boy featured in holiday season television commercials for the Gap clothing stores. Sparhawk still views the advertisements with a sense of humor. You see visions in your head of people that you knew

For the Record

Members include John Nichols (left group, 1994), bass guitar; Mimi Parker, drums, percussion, vocals; Zak Sally (joined group, 1994), bass guitar, keyboards; Alan Sparhawk, guitars, vocals, keyboards.

Group formed in Duluth, MN, April 1993; recorded demos with Kramer, secured record deal with Vernon Yard Recordings, released debut album I Could Live in Hope, 1994; released Long Division, 1995; toured with Soul Coughing, Luna, Pell Mell, and Spectrum, 1995-96; released The Curtain Hits the Cast, 1996; signed with Kranky Records, released Songs for a Dead Pilot EP, 1997; released Secret Name, 1999; released Things We Lost in the Fire, 2001.

Addresses: BusinessLow, P.O. Box 600, Duluth, MN 55801. WebsiteLow Official Website: http://www.chairkickers.com/low.

growing upsomebody who watches way too much TV sitting in Pierre, South Dakota, having a Diet Pepsi and a Twinkiehearing us and our messed-up, distorted, out-of-tune, too-much-reverb song careening out of their 27-inch TVs. That to me is perversely delightful, he told Simon Peter Groebner for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001. It kind of gets back to when we started the bandthe idea of, Wow, what would it be like to play this stuff in front of people? Its gonna really make them uncomfortable.

After the issue of the well-received EP Dinosaur Act, Low teamed with Albini again for the recording of Things We Lost in the Fire. The album, released in early 2001 and considered their most refined to date, included stark songs like Whitetail, the minimalist track Embrace, and the lush Kind of Girl, as well as the quiet, yet explosive Dinosaur Act. Its difficult to imagine a more perfect expression of their vision than this, asserted New Musical Express in one review, while Colin Helms in CMJ insisted, Lows music needs neither force nor speed to deliver its emotionally exacting message.

Low spent much of 2001 and the following year touring, including an appearance at the All Tomorrows Parties festival in England. In 2002, the group also recorded and mixed songs for a new album, expected for release later in the year. In addition to Low, Sparhawk and Sally are active in the side projects Hospital People and the Tooth Fairies; Sparhawk also formed a band with members of the Early Americans called the Black-Eyed Snakes.

Selected discography

Albums

I Could Live in Hope, Vernon Yard, 1994.

Long Division, Vernon Yard, 1995.

The Curtain Hits the Cast, Vernon Yard, 1996.

One More Reason to Forget (live recording), Bluesanct Musak, 1998.

owL Remix Low, Vernon Yard, 1998.

Christmas, Chair Kickers Union, 1999.

Secret Name, Kranky, 1999.

Paris 99Anthony, Are You Around?, P-Vine, 2001.

Things We Lost in the Fire, Kranky, 2001.

EPs

Low, Summershine/Vernon Yard, 1994.

Transmission EP, Vernon Yard, 1995.

finally, Vernon Yard, 1996.

Over the Ocean, Vernon Yard, 1996.

Songs for a Dead Pilot, Kranky, 1997.

(With Spring Heel Jack) Bombscare, Tugboat, 2000.

Dinosaur Act, Tugboat, 2000.

The Exit Papers Soundtrack, Temporary Residence, 2000.

(With Dirty Three) in the fishtank, Konkurrent, 2001.

k./Low, Tiger Style, 2001.

Last Night I Dreamt that Somebody Loved Me, Chairkickers Music, 2001.

Appears on

A Means to an End: A Tribute to Joy Division, Virgin, 1995.

Indie-Rock Flea Market Part 2, Flip, 1995.

Dont Get Too Tense, Vernon Yard, 1995.

Jabberjaw Pure Sweet Hell, Mammoth, 1996.

A Tribute to Spacemen 3, Rocket Girl, 1998.

Duluth Does Dylan, Spinout, 2000.

Naked in the Afternoon: A Tribute to Jandek, Summersteps, 2000.

Take Me Home: A Tribute to John Denver, Badman, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Applesauce, September 7, 1995.

Baltimore City Paper, September 8-14, 1999.

Brain, Volume IV, Issue #40, October 14, 2001.

Chairs Missing, January 1996.

CMJ, February 14, 1994; May 29, 1995; February 5, 1996; August 12, 1996; June 2, 1997; October 27, 1997; August 3, 1998; March 29, 1999; September 11, 2000; February 12, 2001.

Daily Texan, January 31, 2001.

Dallas Observer, January 25, 2001.

Dead Angel, Issue #45, March 2001.

DIW Magazine, March 2000.

Duluth News Tribune, February 9, 2001.

Florida Flambeau (Florida State University) January 1997.

Grip Monthly, Issue #5, April 1997.

Independent, November 17, 2000.

Miami New Times, April 16, 1998; October 12, 2000.

Milk Magazine, June 4, 2001.

NME, November 13, 2000; November 18, 2000; February 3, 2001.

Oculus Magazine, February 1999.

Opuzine, January 13, 2001.

QRD, Issue #14, October 1998.

SFGate, April 12, 2001.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis), February 4, 2001.

War Against Silence, December 11, 1997.

Westword (Denver, CO), October 1996.

Whirlpool, March 1995.

Online

Low, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (May 9, 2002).

Low Official Website, http://www.chairkickers.com/low (May 9, 2002).

Miami New Times Online, http://www.miaminewtimes.com (May 9, 2002).

Laura Hightower

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low

low1 / / • adj. 1. of less than average height from top to bottom or to the top from the ground: the school is a long, low building a low table. ∎  situated not far above the ground, the horizon, or sea level: the sun was low in the sky. ∎  located at or near the bottom of something: low back pain there were stunted trees low down on the ridge. ∎  Baseball (of a pitched ball) below a certain level, such as the batter’s knees, as it comes across home plate, and thus outside the strike zone. ∎  (of a river or lake) below the usual water level; shallow. ∎  (of latitude) near the equator. ∎  (of women's clothing) cut so as to reveal the neck and the upper part of the breasts: the low neckline of her blouse | [in comb.] a low-cut black dress. ∎  Phonet. (of a vowel) pronounced with the tongue held low in the mouth; open. ∎  (of a sound or note) deep: his low, husky voice. 2. below average in amount, extent, or intensity; small: bringing up children on a low income shops with low levels of staff and service cook over low heat. ∎  (of a substance or food) containing smaller quantities than usual of a specified ingredient: vegetables are low in calories | [in comb.] low-fat spreads. ∎  (of a supply) small or reduced in quantity: food and ammunition were running low. ∎  having a small or reduced quantity of a supply: they were low on fuel. ∎  (of a sound) not loud: they were told to keep the volume very low. 3. ranking below other people or things in importance or class: jobs with low status training will be given low priority. ∎  (of art or culture) considered to be inferior in quality and refinement: the dual traditions of high and low art. ∎  less good than is expected or desired; inferior: the standard of living is low. ∎  unscrupulous or dishonest: practice a little low cunning low tricks. ∎  (of an opinion) unfavorable: he had a low opinion of himself. 4. depressed or lacking in energy: I was feeling low. • n. a low point, level or figure: his popularity ratings are at an all-time low. ∎  a particularly bad or difficult moment: the highs and lows of an actor's life. ∎ inf. a state of depression or low spirits. ∎  an area of low atmospheric pressure; a depression. • adv. 1. in or into a low position or state: she pressed on, bent low to protect her face. 2. quietly: we were talking low so we wouldn't wake Dean. ∎  at or to a low pitch: the sopranos have to sing rather low. PHRASES: the lowest of the low the people regarded as the most immoral or socially inferior of all.DERIVATIVES: low·ness n. low2 • v. [intr.] (of a cow) make a characteristic deep sound: [as n.] (lowing) the lowing of cattle. • n. a sound made by cattle; a moo.

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low

low Low Church of or adhering to a tradition within the Anglican Church (and some other denominations) which is Protestant in outlook and gives relatively little emphasis to ritual, sacraments, and the authority of the clergy.
Low Countries the region of NW Europe comprising the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The term is first found in English in the mid 16th century.
Low Sunday the Sunday after Easter, perhaps so named in contrast to the high days of Holy Week and Easter.

See also low-hanging fruit.

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low

low1 not high or tall. XII. ME. lāh, inflected lāʒe — ON. lágr = MDu. lage (Du. laag), MHG. læge (G. dial. läg) flat :- Gmc. *lǣʒjaz, f. *lǣʒ-, see LIE1.
Hence adv. XIII. ME. lahe, laʒe. lowland less hilly region of a country (spec. Scotland). XVI. lowly adj. XIV. See -LY1.

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low

low2 utter characteristic sound of cattle. OE. hlōwan = OLF. luogin, luon (Du. loeien), OHG. (h)luoen, ON. hlóa roar, f. Gmc. *χlō- :- IE. *klā-, as in L. clāmare shout.

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low

low The common name for a low-pressure system (e.g. a depression).

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low

low Common term for a low-pressure system, e.g. a depression.

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low

lowaglow, ago, alow, although, apropos, art nouveau, Bamako, Bardot, beau, Beaujolais Nouveau, below, bestow, blow, bo, Boileau, bons mots, Bordeaux, Bow, bravo, bro, cachepot, cheerio, Coe, crow, Defoe, de trop, doe, doh, dos-à-dos, do-si-do, dough, dzo, Flo, floe, flow, foe, foreknow, foreshow, forgo, Foucault, froe, glow, go, good-oh, go-slow, grow, gung-ho, Heathrow, heave-ho, heigh-ho, hello, ho, hoe, ho-ho, jo, Joe, kayo, know, lo, low, maillot, malapropos, Marceau, mho, Miró, mo, Mohs, Monroe, mot, mow, Munro, no, Noh, no-show, oh, oho, outgo, outgrow, owe, Perrault, po, Poe, pro, quid pro quo, righto, roe, Rouault, row, Rowe, sew, shew, show, sloe, slow, snow, so, soh, sow, status quo, stow, Stowe, strow, tally-ho, though, throw, tic-tac-toe, to-and-fro, toe, touch-and-go, tow, trow, undergo, undersow, voe, whacko, whoa, wo, woe, Xuzhou, yo, yo-ho-ho, Zhengzhou, Zhou

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