Through an impressive career of five full-length and numerous single and EP releases, Low have crafted their own peculiar genre of spine-draining minimalist mood rock. On their latest release, "Secret Name," Mimi Parker, Alan Sparhawk and Zak Sally join forces with dirge superhero producer Steve Albini to spin an even bleaker web than usual.
The album begins with a somber march of minimal noise, "I Remember," in which droning instrumental repetition is only occasionally augmented by sudden string divergences. By the time vocals appear on "Starfire," Sparhawk sounds almost animated in his space-bound speculation. But after that it all slides down deeper into dismay, most miserably on "2-Step"; Sparhawk's mumbled "it's not that hard" isn't nearly as reassuring as it should be.
Secret Name rings like a gothic tune without the dress or the dance; its black, veiled stillness just hangs there and waits. And nothing happens.