Once just Ryan Katazija and his guitar/laptop, Low Roar have gained a number of band members, a stage presence and following to match. Aided by Mike Lindsay from English folk band Tunng (his influence is heavy throughout 0, no bad thing), Silla presumably borrowed from múm, and various members of Amiina, Low Roar are now something to behold. They have a lush, deep sound revolving around Ryan’s fragile folk songs but are clearly not afraid of electronics, looping or occasionally breaking into dance.
‘Breathe In’ is the opener, and immediately marks out the territory; folk led dreamy pop. ‘Easy Way Out’ is wonderful, with its slow build, sorrowful lyrics and the noise of an emperor penguin being repeatedly squeezed. Not really, but that’s how it sounds. The gentle ‘Nobody Loves me Like You’ is a folksy melodrama with a sting in its tail, whilst ‘Please Don’t Stop (Chapter 1)’ is it’s gentler cousin. ‘Vampire on the Fridge’ is a revelation. The standout track though, is ‘I’ll Keep Coming’ with its slow build and unusual percussion. It’ll have you hitting repeat.
Occasionally, 0 can become a little slow, and some of the tracks seem a little unnecessary. I think I would have preferred a shorter, punchier album, but this is very much a minor quibble.
0 was released just after winning over the crowd at ATP Iceland in July, and after several years of hard graft by Ryan, who has clearly been honing his vision of how to use his new Icelandic friends to make a remarkable album. Ryan moved to Iceland from California in 2010 after his old band Audrye Sessions broke up. 0 couldn’t have been made anywhere else; It reeks of the Icelandic music scene and is all the better for it.
0 by Low Roar is out through Tonequake Records and is available for purchase on the band’s website.