Video for "Burrow" - youtu.be/0hHWgeqGiFk
Video for "Harvesting" - youtu.be/psBN8-of71Y
Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love have been making music from just outside the Peak District since 2004. They’ve released three albums and, most recently, 2011’s Ghost E.P. on Miami’s Other Electricities. What started as two vocal harmonies and an acoustic guitar swelled to six band members around the time of 2009’s Feels, Feathers, Bog & Bees, then imploded back in on itself, leaving brothers Kelly and Ellis Dyson to see out most of these final recordings by themselves.
Last is Low Low’s fourth and final album. When the recording sessions finished, Kelly moved to London and then onto Europe. Since the day they turned the studio lights off on their way out, the tape machines, mixing desk, amplifiers and instruments have sat gathering dust. Recording was followed by a long stretch of mixing and mastering the album over and over between day jobs. Fast forward to today, and Kelly (vocals, guitars, etc.) and Ellis (drums, guitars, studio engineering, etc.) are in the strange position of releasing an album that is now just a memory.
On Last, Kelly and Ellis purposefully set out to redress what they felt was an imbalance in the channeling of their influences. Whatever lack of confidence had forced them to tend towards recording clarity over low-fi on all of Low Low’s previous albums, this time there was no doubt from the offset - Last would be resolutely low-fi. Whereas most of the songs here were recorded on 1/2 inch tape, a suite of tracks including “Guard,” “Bedroom Window” and “A World In Ruin” were put down on C90 cassette with the optional Dolby noise reduction firmly set to OFF, bestowing these tracks with a fuzzy character, excessive tape hiss and over-compression. The brothers really began to experiment with not just what they recorded, but also how they recorded. Having built and (attempted to) soundproof a small home studio, gone were the constraints of bedroom recording.
Musically, Last is less eclectic than Low Low’s previous couple of albums, but with purpose. The constricting of the band down to two members, the fixed studio and recording on tape all helped to create a cohesive thread. Low Low don’t veer far from their habits: acoustic and electric guitars, drum kit, the occasional banjo or piano. But here, on Last, the studio is an instrument itself. On “Dandelions,” a gentle folk song is buried under the white noise and tape hiss that swallowed the closing of the previous song. On “What You Wanted Most,” a shimmering Glockenspiel riff is played through a distorted amplifier. In “Bedroom Window,” the cassette tape is overloaded with drums before a swirling crescendo of amp noise engulfs everything and just as quickly dissipates. The collection is raw and sonically ragged but nothing is lost to the cacophony.
The themes on Last reflect the happenings in Kelly’s life during recording and the finality of the sessions. The songs take us through the end of a relationship, new love, goodbyes, migration and movement. Layered on top of these themes is the realisation, during writing, that these were to be Low Low’s final songs - as on the track “A World in Ruin,” on which Kelly refers to artwork for Low Low’s second album, Ends of June, “Words hanging on telegraph wires, and a long list of failures." - a bittersweet farewell, looking back on the good and the bad that life in a band brings. It's the album's title track and closer though which offers "one last crash of all the cymbals" bringing both the album and the band their conclusion:
"I’ve got nothing left to say without sending myself off to sleep,
And it doesn’t really feel all as bad as I thought it would..."