Psalms by lovesliescrushing (Review)

The Chicago-based ambient/shoegaze duo pay tribute to Low’s Mimi Parker with a pair of covers.
Psalms - lovesliescrushing

Low’s extensive catalog contains a number of signature songs: “Words,” “Over the Ocean,” “Dinosaur Act,” “Try to Sleep,” and “Days Like These,” to name a few. But one of my favorite Low songs has always been “Do You Know How to Waltz,” a fourteen-minute drone epic from 1996’s The Curtain Hits the Cast. I only saw them play it live once, at the very first Low concert I ever attended, but it left an indelible mark.

At the same time, it’s been one of their most “controversial” songs. The band (in)famously performed an extended 30-minute version at the 2013 “Rock the Garden” festival in Minneapolis, a decision that pissed off some concertgoers. But for us longtime fans, “Do You Know How to Waltz” is a true highlight. It takes the band’s austere “slowcore” aesthetic to noisy extremes without sacrificing one iota of their music’s beauty.

Should it really come as any surprise, then, that lovesliescrushing — who certainly know a thing or two about creating massive walls of beautiful noise — would cover the song in memory of the recently departed Mimi Parker? I think not, because this is one of those things that makes all the sense in the world. Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin-Duimstra remain faithful to the spirit of Low’s original, but as it progresses, their cover grows even more abstract until it’s little more than ghostly wisps of Arpin-Duimstra’s voice and Cortez’s guitar. In other words, absolutely perfect.

On the A-side, the duo cover “Below and Above” from 1995’s Long Division, and it’s another cover that makes perfect sense. There’s little-to-no abstraction here, just naked emotion as Arpin-Duimstra delivers one of her most straightforward vocal performances of any lovesliescrushing release to date. Her voice is fragile à la Cranes’ Alison Shaw and drenched in echo; meanwhile, Cortez’s guitar drifts and swells with appropriate restraint until the song ends with a fitting stretch of silence.

All in all, this two-song EP is both an excellent tribute to an amazing musician and a welcome return from a band that we haven’t heard a lot from in recent years. (lovesliescrushing’s last release was 2020’s Extrañas Letanías, a split release with Peru’s Fiorella16.)

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