Low
The Curtain Hits the Cast


4.0
excellent

Review

by Arnaud USER (5 Reviews)
May 28th, 2013 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One more dance...

''Why do we like sad songs?'' asked earlier this week a music columnist for his radio audience. For if the popularity of sad songs is consensus, may be it only by the importance it holds in special requests, reminded the animator, wouldn’t there be any scientific reason to explain these facts? It is after joining a neuropsychologist, expert in sounds and their effects on brain, that she began to explain how our body, as a natural defense against sadness, products prolactin, a relaxing and calming hormone which provides a sense of comfort and well-being. Here goes one more point in favor of the option ''singing along My Immortal alone in the dark’’ as the most effective way to get through a difficult breakup! After all… we now have evidence that listening sad songs… makes us happy! Of course, as science and art don’t always go hand in hand, this should be taken with a grain of salt, but in all seriousness, if a sad song can be so important to us, it is due to its ability to share with us solitude in a way no being can do, and if there is an album that truly fulfills this task, it is indeed The Curtain Hits The Cast, third installment of the well-established slowcore group Low.

Pioneers in the genre, the original band of Minnesota, as in his first two outings, opts for a sad and gloomy atmosphere, but stands out this time on TCHTC by minimalism pushed to the extreme, as much in the musical composition as in the written lyrics, sung alternately or duo by Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. The snare of Parker, which appears on the cover art, stands as the almost only source of percussion during the 65:01 that last the album. Add to that Sparhawk’s simple yet melancholic guitar chords as well as Zak Sally’s monotonous bass line and we are with every ingredient needed to create a true atmosphere of pea soup as the composition is opaque and homogeneous from one end to another.

However, such a homogeneous album has its advantages and disadvantages. Even after several listens, it may seem difficult to distinguish one song from another as they, on almost all fronts, resemble themselves. Quite frankly, some songs completely lose their meaning when heard individually. Such is the case with tracks like Mom Says or Same. In fact, apart from the opener Anon and the very beautiful Over The Ocean, on which both Sparhawk and Parker join for great singing, all the work has much better taste when consumed as whole. Because that is the strength of Low. This ability to create a rich yet relaxing atmosphere of sadness with rarely more than three chords per song confirms their important influence of the slowcore genre. Some will criticize the singings to be too monotonous but it is not: there could exist on The Curtain Hits The Cast no alternative to the depressive and dull voices that float like a thick smoke from beginning to end of the album. Too great a change of tone would just blow this smudge and thereby break the heavy atmosphere that gives the album its obscurity.

Once sadness has really taken part of the ambiance, Low waits till the near end of the album to open a hatch in the floor and drag us even deeper into the darkness where all hope to glimpse light seems to have vanished as the 14 minutes song Do You Know How To Waltz? show a post-rock side of the band we’d loved to discover earlier. Appear on this track some of the most beautiful lines ever written:

One more dance
Before they take away the light
One more spin around the line
One more step
And then we’ll turn and face the depth
One more reason to forget


There is a live version of Low duet with Godspeed You! Black Emperor spreading the piece up to 27 minutes. Contrary to the opinion of some, the poor quality of the recording only enhances the rawness of the tormented emotions present throughout the performance. A musical masterpiece for those finding pleasure in being musically tortured.

Once completed, the band literally brings us back to the surface with Dark, the final title, which is a very short poem sung by Alan Sparhawk and accompanied by only a slight guitar.

The Curtain Hits The Cast remains to this day a staple of slowcore and an eternal companion in solitude, reminding us that there are many things to be feared, but that darkness should not be part of them.


user ratings (134)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheNexus100
May 29th 2013


2696 Comments


awesome record

Arnaud
May 29th 2013


215 Comments


Awesome record from an awesome band

Motiv3
September 27th 2013


9105 Comments


This is fantastic.

scissorlocked
September 27th 2013


3535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it is indeed



Annon is one of their best openers

Motiv3
December 19th 2013


9105 Comments


love love love love.

Motiv3
January 22nd 2014


9105 Comments


Bumped my rating. So good this album.

KILL
January 22nd 2014


81239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gota ch3k

Lucman
August 21st 2018


5375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The chills from "Do You Know How To Waltz?" Mercy.

Digging: Emily Scott Robinson - American Siren

theBoneyKing
October 19th 2018


20977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well isn’t this one just utterly fucking hopeless

Digging: The War On Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore

letsgofishing
October 19th 2018


1623 Comments


Drone, not drones.

https://youtu.be/zI5-MuV5NSo

Lucman
October 19th 2018


5375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahaha it's a real sad one but this has my fav atmosphere out of them all.

NeroCorleone80
October 19th 2018


34618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this might be their best

StallionMang
October 19th 2018


9003 Comments


between their first and their latest, this is still at least top 3

theBoneyKing
October 20th 2018


20977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"The Plan" though, omg Mimi's vocals are just transcendent.

theBoneyKing
October 21st 2018


20977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Can I hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooold it foooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooor a week...

NeroCorleone80
October 21st 2018


34618 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel like this is the perfect culmination of Low's early sound.

StallionMang
October 21st 2018


9003 Comments


if by that you mean stripped-down to the bare essentials, then absolutely

theBoneyKing
October 21st 2018


20977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's certainly the most urelentingly slow (unto the extent of literal drone for most of "Do You Know How to Waltz?") of the first three albums.

StallionMang
October 21st 2018


9003 Comments


tbh in some ways this album (especially that song) feels like the logical conclusion of its genre



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