"This was my first Low album and is still, so far, my favorite. The total starkness of the sound on this record is captivating in a way that is totally unique. Down by the Wires is one of the most astonishing songs I've heard in a while: the essence of slowcore boiled down to an impossibly slow tempo. I find this record much more arresting than earlier Low (although those records are good too, of course)."
Not as good as their full lengths, but still a classic
Lee L. | Washington DC | 05/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although this is a fantastic release, I wouldn't recommend this as someone's first exposure to Low. If you're just now getting into Low, get Secret Name first but make sure you get this once you've gotten into the band's style. Although there is some classic Low here, there's just enough music on this release that's different from what Low usually does that it's not an accurate glimpse at the band as a whole.First of all, the lanscape on the cover perfectly captures the feel of the ep. This is perfect music to listen to if you're snowed in. It feels very cold and desolate, but very moving at the same time.The first track is a good example of the weirdness on the disk. Will the Night is a song off of Secret Name, but here you can only hear a droning guitar/keyboard notes and the vocals, but they're buried under twenty feet of reverb. Condescend is one of my favorite Low songs. Very simple, incredibly sad sounding guitar and string quartet underneath one of Mimi's most moving vocal performances. Born by the Wires has a darker sounding guitar melody contrasted by some higher pitched singing by Alan before turning into a long droning guitar-only conclusion. Be There is mostly keyboard music, which is uncharacteristic of Low, but sounds great with the muted drumming. Landlord is another drag your feet classic with a wonderful sense of strangely comforting dread and remorse. Hey Chicago finishes things up nicely with a relatively warmer sounding song with really pretty male/female vocals.All in all, this is a great release from a terribly underrated band that keeps make essential records for those of us with attention spans longer than two minutes."
Lee L. | 08/13/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of Low will enjoy the drawn-out exporation and experimentation on this one. None of the songs jump out the way they should. Luckily, on "Secret Name" the band took these nascent experiments to sonic heights. Newcomers should save this for later and head straight for "Secret Name"Oh yeah, if you have a chance to attend a live show, DO IT!"
Another strong release by a fantastic band
Lee L. | 01/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm still trying to figure out why the Vernon Yard label dropped Low after the favorable critical reception of "The Curtain Hits The Cast" but apparently it's going to be VY's loss. Low has again tinkered with their sound and kept the elements that are familiar to their music in balance with their new sound and unique produstion. The addition of strings was a fantastic move that I have been awaiting patiently. Kranky Records really made a good move by picking this band up and judging by this album, it appears to be a mutually aggreeable deal. "Will The Night" is a new and welcome attempt to expand on the experimental sound and haunting atmospherics of "Do You Know How To Waltz?" and every other track is simply arresting. The exception is "Born By The Wires" which seems a bit long and repetitive without any particular reason. The dreary landscape on the front and back cover is a good indication of the general sound of this album; "Will The Night" even sounds like the winter wind! While the end result of "Songs For A Dead Pilot" is not as polished as "The Curtain Hits The Cast", it is a strong and moving release that accomplishes more in the shorter length of an ep than most full-length albums can boast."
Good songs, but disappointing production
Lee L. | 01/13/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I must suggest that you see Low perform live. It really helps in understanding what they are trying to accomplish on the album. This album experiments in reverb chambers, and natural reverbs as well as recording at different speeds (a trick that makes the recordings sound tired, not slow). Excellent string arrangements pushed my critique from 2 to 3. I had to get this to hear a 5 star 8-track basement recording other than Boston! =P Only 35 minutes of music. I would suggest The Curtain Hits the Cast over songs for a D-P."