When kranky beginning working with Low, the Duluth Minnesota trio had released three albums on the Vernon Yard label. When they began playing songs at a deliberate pace, with the crystalline harmonizing of Alan Sparkhawk and Mimi Parker, Low could not have been further from the prevailing currents of independent rock.
In 1997 the band recorded Songs for a Dead Pilot at their home studio in Duluth. Sprinkled with abstract particles and the product of home experimentation, it marked an expansion of the band's working methods. And it confirmed that the slow and lovely sound that the band worked with still gave them plenty of room to play in.
Low then recorded two consecutive albums with Steve Albini, Secret Name and Things We Lost in the Fire. Each upped the artistic ante, adding new instrumentation (strings, piano and trumpet) that enlarged and enriched the strong songs. Low toured around the world, amassing a fervent audience. Some tracks from singles, compilations and a few originals were collected into a Christmas album.
"The Minnesota trio Low really don't bother with hand-wringing. Since forming in 1993 in the snowy outpost of Duluth, they've become indie-rock's most brutal assayers of ...emotional upheavals.., that they do it via minimal guitar/bass/drums set-up suggests that to transcend rock's corporeal limits you must step away from them. Trust, Low's sixth studio album, might be the band's best yet, a quietly stunning song cycle of carefully considered tones and rhythms... This is rock as a reflection of the rareified, adeft, metaphysical suggestion of the form's depth that simply feels like a conversation."
Mikael Wood UR Chicago Sept. 12-Oct. 9, 2002
The most recent Low album, Trust, was released in Fall 2002. It was recorded in a church in Duluth, then handed over to Tchad Blake (best known for his work with Peter Gabriel, Lisa Germano, Los Lobos and the Latin Playboys) for mixing. From the beginning widescapes of "That's How You Sing Amazing Grace," Blake's mix brings in carefully places effects and details that make Trust a Low album like no other.
The band played a number of shows in late 2003 and early 2004 and plan to record sometime in the spring of 2004.
Audiences at the latest shows have heard songs with a decidedly heavier feel and space for extensive, near-psychedelic guitar solos. What the next Low album will sound like is a delightful point of conjecture.