Record Review - 2 October 09 2002

With their haunting High Plains drone, singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk, singer/drummer Mimi Parker and bassist Zak Sally practically defined the repetitious sub-genre known as slowcore — to the extent where it might as well be called Lowcore. While others raised their voices in hushed harmony, few could match the aching austerity this Duluth, Minn., trio gently handcrafted with subtle, surgical brushstrokes and plodding reverb.?

With Trust, the band’s sixth full-length studio album, Low has led its funereal march to the revival tent, adding more stomp to its smolder as it tests the faithful. Bringing producer Tchad Blake (Latin Playboys, Pearl Jam) into the fold allows Low to further explore both tension and release. But at the heart of their newfound expansiveness is economic familiarity: Low has found that minimalism and directness are far from mutually exclusive.?

The echoing “(That’s How You Sing) Amazing Grace,” the lightly washed lullaby “Tonight,” the shuffling “Diamond” and the glacial thud of “I Am the Lamb” are the kind of intimate empty-room performances expected from these sparse somnambulists. But “In the Drugs” and “La La La Song” betray Low’s ’70s soft-rock influences, and the fuzzy, rousing riffs of “Canada” and “Snowstorm” demonstrate Low’s increasing ability to rock a concert hall — not just each other.

Low plays the Echo Lounge Wed., Oct. 16.