[Tribute] – ‘Cancels Out’ (1958-2018) – A Tribute to Low’s ‘Double Negative’


Stream the mixes while you read; download at the bottom of this post.

Low is part of a small handful of contemporary musicians that I loved as a very young person and that has continued to be a part of my life for over 22 years now.  The austerity and deceptive simplicity of their earliest music cut like a knife through the flotsam of the “indie rock” world I was trying my best to like, age 16.  As their sound thawed and expanded, I became ever more enraptured–even going so far as to reach out to the band unsolicited, and without any publisher in hand, to interview them when I was 22; and as an indication of their immense kindness, they responded with thoughtful, in-depth answers.  From the beginning, underlying their incredible beauty was stream of uncertainty, of searching, of wrestling with the harder questions of being human in an imperfect world, and in 2007 they produced one of my favorite albums made in my listening lifetime, ‘Drums and Guns,’ in which that stream seemed to burst its banks, bringing the struggle with imperfection to the fore in a way that was more nuanced than most, with their music taking unexpected shifts to match.  And now in their 25th year, they’ve created one of their very greatest works: ‘Double Negative‘.  Despite upping the ante on the sonic experimentation of ‘Drums & Guns‘ (and the amazing and under-heard ‘Bombscare‘ EP, perhaps ‘Double Negative’s most direct antecedent in the bands oeuvre in terms of expanding their approach), ‘Double Negative‘ seems to be finding a ready and excited audience, perhaps because in many ways the album takes the anxiety and anger and cautious hope that is our daily life in an era of emboldened nascent fascism, and makes something beautiful from it all.  It is so moving, so sonically compelling, that the only way I really know how to respond is to mix about it.

So as a humble tribute to what Low has achieved, I present ‘Cancels Out‘ (1958-2018).  Nobody really sounds like Low; even in the maelstrom-and-calm that is ‘Double Negative,’ Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s voices make it feel like home.  So this mix, which takes the ‘Sensory Replication Series‘ approach of heavily mixing tracks into one another, doesn’t necessarily aim to sound like ‘Double Negative’ or replicate its flow, like some previous tribute mixes have done.  Instead, it’s an attempt at further exploring the emotional states the album produces: peaks of anger and confusion, valleys of repose and contemplation, uncertain hopefulness, beautiful decay, tenuous building of something new.  Perhaps it pushes at times a bit farther into the wilderness, but I hope that the sort of adventurous listeners who are loving ‘Double Negative’ would find this mix compelling.  If at all possible, because of the intricacy of the pieces, I highly recommend listening to this mix with headphones.

This mix features tracks from as early as 1958, but also several very recent artists (who almost certainly count Low among their influences).  Please, go buy as much of this music as you can, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.  And please support Low, who remain beautifully real people still putting everything they have into making art for us all.

Various – ‘Cancels Out
(A Tribute to Low’s ‘Double Negative’) | (1958-2018)

01 [00:00]
Gottfried Michael Koenig – “Function Blau” (1970)
David Bowie – “Neukoln” (1977)
Codeine – “Pea” (1990)

02 [05:10]
Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man – “Mysteries” (2003)
Bernard Parmegiani – “Matieres Induites” (1975)
Alan Sparhawk – “1:45” (2006)

03 [09:55]
Dead Can Dance – “The Fatal Impact” (1984)
Daniel Menche – “Concussions (CD1 Track 2)” (2006)
Max Richter – “Laika’s Journey” (2002)

04 [14:45]
Monton – “Hz Waltz'” (1982)
Flaming Lips – “Turning Violent” (2013)
Tod Dockstader – “Wah” (2005)

05 [19:30]
Pierre Henry – “Negation” (1988)
Radian – “Kinetakt” (2009)

06 [24:10]
Tia Blake – “Yellow Hair” (1976)
David Toop & Max Eastley – “Hydrophone” (1975)

07 [28:20]
Charles Hayward – “Thames Water Authority” (1989)
Arthur Russell – “Answers Me” (1986)

08 [33:40]
Balmorhea – “On the Weight Of Night” (2010)
Heldon – “Bolero” (1979)

09 [38:05]
Hilary Woods – “Kith” (2018)
Neu – “Elanoizan” (1986)

10 [43:30]
Tanakh – “Tells” (2002)
Shellyan Orphan – “Host” (2008)
Iannis Xenakis – “Concret PH” (1958)

11 [50:20]
Susumu Yokota – “Light Of the Sun” (2003)
Bark Psychosis – “Dr. Innocuous Ketamoid” (2004)

12 [53:45]
Zola Jesus – “Doma” (2017)
Earth – “Mirage” (2005)
Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis – “Lear” (1989)

[Total Time: 60:00]

Download ‘Cancels Out’ (1958-2018)’ Here (138 MB)

Stream here:



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