Mimi Parker spent nearly 30 years in Low alongside her husband, Alan Sparhawk, anchoring the indie rock institution with her spacious drumming and plaintive soprano. She called on her training as a snare player in her junior high school band to come up with a sparse kit and minimalist style: Parker would perform standing upright behind a carefully arranged tom, snare and cymbals, using padded mallets and soft brushes to create gently pulsing, patient rhythms that served as a counterpoint to Sparhawk’s more anarchic guitar playing. As a vocalist, she sang as if she were a member of a larger church chorus, even when she was on lead. Her delivery was as unwavering and understated as her rhythms, offered with the tenderness of someone who might sing you to sleep—even when the music around her was more apt to score a waking nightmare.
In the earliest years of the band, Parker’s vocals played more of a complementary role, adding ethereal harmonies to Sparhawk’s melodies and only taking the lead on two or three tracks per album. But over time her songwriting came to the fore, especially as the band moved into their final, critically acclaimed era of electronic reinvention. Looking back on Parker’s body of work—and attempting to come to terms with the fact that it is, now, complete—it’s easy to see how her lyrics and melodies stand out as some of Low’s most emotionally resonant.
Check out the article for six chronologically listed songs that “highlight Parker’s quest for calmness and beauty amid chaos”, several of which I played on the 221110 show.