We Could Live in Hope: A Tribute to Low
For me, Low's music has worked so well because of the effort the band places on song arrangement rather than songwriting. On their older albums especially, Low creates slow epics with little more than a couple of chords and exquisite vocal melodies. In light of this, it's easy to be a little leery of a tribute album devoted to the band. In the hands of smaller-minded groups, Low's minimalist expanse could quickly become cluttered and overwrought. Thankfully, Fractured Discs' assembled artists list reads like a dream -- full of outstanding contemporaries and followers able to retain their respective signature sound without butchering Low's back catalog. Highlights include Mark Kozelek, who turns "Lazy" into a leisurely country road rambler; A Northern Chorus, who provide the link between slow-core and shoegaze on "Slide," showing that they both pull from the same emotional well; and His Name is Alive featuring Nanang Tatang's ghostly clatter on the lullaby "Sunshine."
The disc's brightest moments come in the form of Jessica Bailiff's "Down" and Migala's "Words." Both provide a heavy backdrop of field recordings for their songs, giving the somber arrangements a deeper context of lonesome starless nights. They've filled in the gaps of silence in Low's original recordings by quietly pinning down what the songs already implied. Deeply haunting and experimental statements; you couldn't ask for anything better in a tribute to Low.
this review is/was online at Ink 19
and is available here for archival purposes only