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Drums and Guns (Bonus Track Version)

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Editors’ Notes

Nothing in this Duluth, Minnesota trio’s past prepares you for the sinister noir of their eighth full-length album. Teaming up with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, who oddly toughened up their sound with greater convention on 2005’s The Great Destroyer, the group head into an instrumental netherworld where time ticks by in slow, erratic degrees and a disturbing sense of unease permeates the feedback-drenched guitars and loitering keyboards. The minimalist instrumental backing serves as an austere backdrop for the rare vocals that emit from a faraway campsite where a human sacrifice wouldn’t be out of question. These are songs about death and murder where the blood still smells fresh. A hint of Tom Waits’ mechanical rhythm structures lingers in the disruptive, slow churning rhythms. An Arabian exoticism informs “Sandinista.” A deliberately unfunky groove works over “Always Fade.” Séance chants spike the foreboding gloom of “Dust On the Window.” Low have made the soundtrack to a film that may never exist. But it should conjure up some pretty grisly visuals in your imagination should you attempt to meditate to these tunes that redefine the “murder ballad” genre.

Customer Reviews

This Album Will Invade Your Dreams

As soon as you are done hating this album (roughly 1 to 7 days) you will love it forever.

Be prepared (stars rated against other Low albums)

I respect Low as tremendous group who constantly challenge themselves. When they left out their signature reverb for the album "Secret Name," I felt the loss of that sound, but also understood it in terms of their development. A few albums later, "Trust," for me, was the finale of that line of development (and one of my overall favorite records by any group). Then came their last album "The Great Destroyer." I felt that pang of loss again. The band began to move in new directions regarding what a song was and how a song can come to be. It's a dense and difficult album, but there are moments of transcendent release throughout. "Drums & Guns" is also difficult, both thematically and sonically. Low has a new bass player who brings a new approach. There is lots of experimentation with new kinds of rhythm sounds. These are good things on their face. But be prepared, this record is a frustrating cocktail of restlessness and claustrophobia. There is very little release, if at all. Any sweetness to be found is saccharine. And there is a constant irritating sense of vertigo as the lead vocals are panned hard into the right ear throughout the album. A strong expression in a bleak time? Yes. We can thank them for that. Low's best recording to date? I don't think so. But I'm still listening and look forward to more from them.

Another Incredible Low Release!

Low doesn't disappoint. I have loved all of their albums...and "Drums and Guns" is no exception. It has both classic Low elements (great harmony, interesting lyrics, and fantastic instrumentation), along with more electronic and experimental elements. This is a challenging album, but well worth it. Also, go see Low in concert! They put on an amazing show...


Formed: 1993 in Duluth, MN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1993, Low were perhaps the slowest of the so-called "slowcore" bands -- delicate, austere, and hypnotic, the trio's music rarely rose above a whisper, divining its dramatic tension in the unsettling open spaces created by the absence of sound. Initially comprising the husband-and-wife team of guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk and drummer/vocalist Mimi Parker along with bassist John Nichols, Low began as an experimental reaction to the predominance of grunge. Producer...
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