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Tuesday 8 November 2022

Mimi Parker

The dreadful news that Mimi Parker had died aged just fifty five came via her husband Alan Sparhawk on Sunday. Mimi, vocalist and drummer in Low, had undergone both chemotherapy and surgery after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2020. My social media feed and the blogs yesterday were full of genuinely bereft tributes, many people saying that live gigs by Low were among the best they'd ever been to. I never managed to see Low live, something which I regret. 

Growing up in rural Minnesota Alan and Mimi met, bonded and started playing music together, covering Neil Young songs. They moved to Duluth, later saying in an interview that the inspiration for their music was 'Eno, Joy Division and the boredom of living in Duluth'. I first encountered them on 2000's Things We Lost In The Fire, a record of hushed, intense, quiet, minimalist, glacial songs, a style that became known as slowcore. It was one of those records that left you changed by listening to it.  I bought the louder, gnarlier 2005 album The Great Destroyer and the follow up Guns And Drums. Their recent albums saw them turn the electronics and distortion up on 2018's Double Negative and last year's Hey What.  

Hatchet, from Drums And Guns, and sung by Mimi was released as a single with a remixed version, the Optimimi version, vinyl crackle and a 60s Southern soul sound Mimi sings, 'You be my Charlie and I will be your George/ Let's bury the hatchet like The Beatles and The Stones', a nod to the quieter and less showy members of those bands, and later, 'You be my Marianne and I'll be your Yoko', a nod to two women who are often reduced to stereotypes within the stories of the two groups. 

Hatchet Optimimi Version

Disappearing is from 2021's Hey What, Mimi and Alan's voices in unison over a wall of distortion and noise, 'Every time that ship goes out/ It feels like everything's complete/ But somebody, somewhere is waiting/ Some other ocean at her feet'. The song finishes with the overdriven guitar ever more distorted, Mimi and Alan aah aahing together and then the wrenching final verse, 'That disappearing horizon/ It brings cold comfort to my soul/ An ever present reminder/ The constant face of the unknown'. 


R.I.P. Mimi Parker. 


Khayem said...

A lovely tribute, Adam. I'd not heard the Optimimi Version of Hatchet before, it's wonderful.

Adam Turner said...

Magical isn't it