“Disappearing” doesn’t sound much like Low as we knew them—at least not prior to 2018’s Double Negative. That album saw the group embracing textural harshness and ambience in a way that even their starkest and most sonically abstract moments scarcely touched, yet somehow still sounded characteristically Low—a paradox that can only be explained by hearing it. But even by that measure, “Disappearing” feels a bit different, the Duluth trio having gone through another phase of evolution into a series of lapping waves of distortion that grow increasingly more colossal and imposing, like Sunn O))) fed through an MPC. Somewhere through the layers of filters and effects, there’s a metal riff in their just absolutely ripping.
So it’s yet another curious paradox that this growling beast of a track feels oddly serene. And it’s not for Alan Sparhawk’s lyrical content, which evokes a kind of existential terror: “That disappearing horizon/It brings cold comfort to my soul/An ever-present reminder/The constant face of the unknown.” Yet in his sweet croon, Sparhawk suggests reaching a kind of peace with that anxiousness, a moment to sit with being uncomfortable and embrace it just for a moment. But as a musical creation unto itself, “Disappearing” is constantly escalating, always expanding, filling every last bit of empty space with all-encompassing sound—all only subtle changes in melody.
From HEY WHAT, out September 10 via Sub Pop
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.