The first thing you might notice about Chicago duo Low Swans is how remarkable their live show is. As visual as it is sonic. As uplifting as it is visceral. As energetic as it is engrossing.
There’s plenty to see. First, there are core members Jon Scarpelli and Scott Simon. Scarpelli writes lyrics, sings, and plays guitar. Nothing unusual there. Simon handles synths and mallets, playing percussive electric sounds over elaborate soundscapes. Behind them plays a drummer, a violin/synth/auxiliary member, and finally, an honest-to-god DJ, supervising all sound. “Everybody has a very specific function that you could hone in on for a good chunk of time,” says Simon, “and then just turn your head and see something different.”
Borne from a musically academic background, Low Swans wrangles a bold range of influence into a deeply accessible synth-pop sound: an aural homage to the MTV era of the 1980’s without the over-imposed sense of nostalgia. New single, Ostfront from their upcoming full-length album stands out, speculating on what it means to let go of your own issues and focus on those affected. Beneath deceptively simple layering, it’s emotional and engrossing, fluttering and crackling with verve through lilting arrangements and phrasing: a careful musical testament to their ability - after years within the music industry - to write complex-yet-accessible music.
Says Scarpelli, “We all have our own hardships and stories, but ultimately, bringing together the big ideas and connecting them to ourselves and people on a basic level is what it’s all about.”