Low and the Dirty Three

The label Koncurrent invites bands to record while touring in Holland and releases the recordings as part of its “In the Fishtank” series. Bands are given two days to put down on 24 tracks 30 minutes of whatever they like. The glacially slow trio Low (led by the sweet harmonies of proud parents Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk) invited the amazing instrumental trio Dirty Three (violin/guitar/drums) to join them in November of 1999, and the result is as melancholy and lovely as one might imagine.

The violin of Warren Ellis can melt cinder blocks when it wants to, and Parker’s crooning is particularly refined here. The six songs combine the desolate, vast landscape of both bands at their minimalist best. There’s a nice cover of Neil Young’s “Down by the River” with a droning, experimental intro (song clocks at 9:35) that captures the foreboding tone of the song; the shudderingly beautiful “Invitation Day” showcases a rare melding of quiet female/male harmonies; and Sparhawk provides nice banjo work on the closing lament, “Lordy,” with the lyrics “Lordy, save my soul” beginning soft and lonely like a tumbleweed, then snowballing within layers of reverb into an avalanche of almost psychedelic proportions.

Fans of slow, electric folk musings full of languor and longing would appreciate this moving, low priced EP. "As quiet and dark as a steer’s tuchis on a moonless prairie night," as the cowboy said.