Low Roar

Low Roar

by Matthew Fiander

3 January 2012

 
cover art

Low Roar

Low Roar

(Tonequake)
US: 1 Nov 2011
UK: 1 Nov 2011

Low Roar is a new project from singer-songwriter Ryan Karazija, created after he moved from San Francisco to Reykjavik. It’s important to note the geographical change because it paints nearly every sound on this expansive yet hushed record. You can feel the all-encompassing cold of an Icelandic winter all over these songs. They’re built around Karazija’s guitar and voice—which doesn’t sound that far removed from Jonsi’s—but it’s the subtle layers and echo laid on top of them that give these songs life.

The glitchy beats that haunt “Nobody Else” make it seem like some alien transmission, while “The Painter” adds faint shimmering keys to create some gentle yet troubled lullaby. Behind Karazija’s knack for layering, there are some great songs. In particular, “Friends Make Garbage (Good Friends Take It Out)” is an outstanding folk number, both basic in its finger-picked quiet texture but also perfect in its execution. “We were just kids,” Karazija keens to open up the song, and you’re caught in its fragile past right away. If Low Roar runs into trouble, it’s that it may stay too quiet, too insistently slow, for too long. As the languid numbers pile up they can—on lesser moments like the swaying “Rolling Over” or the overdone “Because We Have To”—approach torpor. Still, this is a sweet, aching record, and it’s one that manages to reach out and connect with us, even as its tied to its own specific place and history.

Low Roar

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.

 

//comments
//related
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Saul Williams Commands Attention at Summerstage (Photos + Video)

// Notes from the Road

"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.

READ the article