The Appleseed Cast
Low Level Owl, Volume I


3.5
great

Review

by br3ad_man EMERITUS
July 5th, 2007 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first of two; Low Level Owl Volume I is a warm, beautiful and epic record that is truly deserving of your attention.

For most, Low Level Owl was one of those albums that seemed to come out of nowhere. Beginning as an emo/indie-rock band in the vein of Braid or Sunny Day Real Estate, The Appleseed Cast managed to completely reinvent themselves by the time Low Level Owl, Volume I (their third album, the first of a separately released double album) rolled around. While Mare Vitalis, the group's second record, hinted at the possible direction the group took on Low Level Owl with a new found appreciation for atmosphere, the change was as drastic as it was unexpected.

Low Level Owl still has hints of the band's contemporaries (Jawbreaker, Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate etc), but for the most part, they are buried under heavily reverbed, arpeggiated guitars, highly creative drumming, pleasant washes of keyboards and layers upon layers of vocal tracks. In short, Low Level Owl sounds positively huge. The album's more conventional songs are split up with a number of different ambient interludes, generally consisting of repeated riffs and melodies played by guitars and keyboards. On the first few listens, the repetition can cause the listener to get lost, but with time and patience, it becomes easier and easier to understand where each part fits into the whole of the album.

Undoubtedly, Low Level Owl should be experienced as an album and a unifying piece of work. As the first of two in the Low Level Owl series, this record is only half of the experience, albeit the stronger half. Though some of the album's instrumentals and interludes work beautifully as stand-alone pieces, an equal amount seem repetitive and unnecessary, unless looked at the context of the entire work. "Doors Lead to Questions", for example, is ridiculously boring on its own, but there are few better moments on the album than when the drums transition between "Doors..." and "Steps and Numbers", one of the album's more conventional rock songs.

Rather than trying to make songs that say anything as individual pieces, it seems that The Appleseed Cast have focused on creating an aesthetic and a feeling over the span of two albums that is far more important than what any individual song might have to say. This is particularly exemplified in the vocal tracks, which are built up from gorgeous layered parts amidst the massively reverbed guitars, the ambient keyboards and huge drumming. Good luck figuring out any actual words; it's near impossible to understand any of the lyrics by ear, but what's more important is how unbelievably beautiful they sound, especially with the production job they are given. In fact, not being able to easily understand the words that are being sung adds a mysterious quality that is present in all other parts of the album, one that makes it near impossible to try to listen to Low Level Owl as anything but a whole.

Although it's maybe a little long-winded and certainly not something that can be listened to at any time, Low Level Owl succeeds in being a truly beautiful album that is far more than the sum of its parts. While it can seem to lack diversity at times, each song has its own quality; from the near-anthemic "On Reflection" to the conventional pop of "Signal" to the Jaga Jazzist esque build of "View of a Burning City" to the simple beauty of "Bird of Paradise". In any case, Low Level Owl is a warm, beautiful, epic and flowing album with very few peers, truly deserving of attention from any sort of listener.

Pros
Amazing overall sound
Incredible flow
Beautiful production

Cons
Some boring interludes
Can be overwhelming

Recommended Songs
On Reflection
Steps and Markers
Mile Marker

Final Rating: 3.5/5



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user ratings (250)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
IsItLuck?
Emeritus
July 5th 2007


4948 Comments


nice review. I only have Two Conversations and that album is excellent I'm not sure if I would pick up this though.

astrel
July 5th 2007


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't enjoy their sound very much. I will give them more of a chance later.

Justanothernimrod
July 6th 2007


478 Comments


good/fair review. 'Lost Songs' is still by far my favourite appleseed release

Kyle
July 6th 2007


667 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice one, this is a great album.

cbmartinez
August 7th 2007


2525 Comments


Such an awesome album, I prefer Peregrine though.

minty901
September 21st 2011


3674 Comments


This review reads like a 4-4.5. I've always known about The Appleseed Cast as one of the big emo/post-rock darlings but it's only now that I've finally decided to check this out. I've previewed this and it sounds fantastic, I can't wait to listen through it.

minty901
December 4th 2011


3674 Comments


Somebody should review part 2. Rooms and Gardens is a beaut. Maybe I'll try to review it when I'm more accustomed to the albums. So far I have the LLOs, Mare Vitalis and ...Ring Wars. Should I start with Two Conversations next?

ffs
May 28th 2013


5319 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

on reflection is insanely brutal

Monheim
January 22nd 2014


253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album finally finally clicked with me. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

dimsim3478
February 21st 2014


8025 Comments


Finally got around to listening to this and...

...wow...

Digging: The Collectors (JP) - YOUNG MAN ROCK

CrimsonLies
May 3rd 2014


2579 Comments


Gotta check

Iamthe Nightstars
May 30th 2014


2737 Comments


"Steps and Markers" Haha.

brainmelter
November 5th 2015


6075 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bumped this up to a 4

some of the melodies on this are so catchy

Digging: Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2016


24270 Comments


had this and Vol. 2 at 3s but idk why. need to relisten it's been awhile

WatchItExplode
August 16th 2016


6127 Comments


This and Vol. 2 have great moments but a lot of idle meandering. I prefer the more steam-lined sound of Peregrine.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2016


24270 Comments


i kinda liked Mare but i dont remember a lot about these two albums.

Futures
August 16th 2016


9983 Comments


check end of the ring wars bro

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2016


24270 Comments


just saw Treb's soundoff. will do, sounds like something I'd like

Artuma
August 16th 2016


29947 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

end of the ring wars rips off mineral so hard



which means it's really good

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2016


24270 Comments


sick sick



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