Review Summary: Waves of divine negativity and elegant sorrow, suspended in static.
Some albums aren’t meant to just simply be listened to. Some records are not meant to be thrown onto a turntable, spun, and be judged at the end of its run time by its face value, your opinion based solely on what you have heard. Rather, some albums are meant to be felt. They require a mental investment, a time and place where you can be alone, close your eyes, and immerse yourself in its aura. They have a necessity to encapsulate the listener in its clutch and hold their full, uninterrupted attention - and most importantly, their thoughts - from start to end, regardless of personal interests or current circumstances. If you are only a fan of music that can provide simple entertainment, only a fan of records that appeal to you at the surface, you might as well stop reading this right now, as you will only receive disappointment from here on out.
But for those willing to delve into an abyss of cathartic beauty, prepare yourself, for this just might be one of the most heart-rendering and intensely euphoric masterpieces you will hear this decade.
On “Double Negative,” Low has somehow managed to put together something that is nearly indescribable, something that words alone may never be able to give justice or full credit to. This thing is abrasive, yet melodic; gorgeous, yet depressing. It is a monstrous wall of sonic crackles, euphonious waves that swell and crash with impeccable timing, and the singing voices of a hundred mournful souls. The minute you put on your headphones and the intense, glitchy static of the opening track “Quorum” - reminiscent of the sound of crushing snow beneath your boots, magnified times ten - smacks you in the face like a one-ton brick, you are immediately catapulted into the grey skies above, the clouds floating around you as you slowly soar along. And then, you look down, only to feast your eyes upon a decaying world of collapsed houses, dying nature, a bleak, shadowy fog cast across the land, dark and infinite, swallowing everything in its path. You hover endlessly on your journey through the atmosphere, knowing there is no chance of saving the societal ruins below, yet you are okay with all of this, at peace with the knowledge of this planet’s inescapable demise. And even when a few shimmers of light break through the seemingly impenetrable darkness on tracks like “Dancing and Fire” and “Fly,” that feeling of hopelessness and melancholy keeps a firm grip on your shoulder, shattering your heart to bits.
There are many emotions to be identified throughout this record. Fear is stirred up on the haunting soundscapes of “The Son, The Sun.” Tranquility can be found in the mother-like female vocals and the rising crescendos and nadirs on “Always Up.” Anxiety and paranoia may be induced by the thumping bass drums and distorted samples on the track “Dancing and Blood.” But one emotion on “Double Negative,” as explained before, remains a constant: the persistent, numbing sting of dejection and misery, like frostbite, cold to the touch. And never before has dejection or misery felt this relaxing and magnificently sublime.
When the final, piercing punches of “Disarray” sound off and “Double Negative” comes to a close, you will plummet from the air at breakneck speeds, open your eyes just as you’re about to become one with the concrete, and come to your senses with a sudden realization; When the world is falling apart before you, all you can do is craft something beautiful out of the rubble. And “Double Negative” stands as testimony that this statement, to many, is more than enough.