Mimi Parker, whose haunting vocals and spare drumming helped outline the moody, minimalist sound of Low, a trio that emerged from the Nineteen Nineties alt-rock world and endured as an influential and acclaimed act for practically 30 years, died on Nov. 5 at her residence in Duluth, Minn. She was 55.
Her husband, Alan Sparhawk, with whom she based the band, stated the trigger was ovarian most cancers.
Low, which was primarily the couple with a sequence of bassists through the years, launched its first album, “I May Reside in Hope,” in 1994. Not like many bands of the grunge period that soared rapidly however flamed out spectacularly — at occasions tragically — Low survived the ’90s, touring and recording 13 studio albums.
Low by no means had a success single or a platinum album, however its affect was felt. Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, recorded an evocative model of “Monkey,” a Low tune from 2005, on his 2010 album, “Band of Pleasure.” Mavis Staples lined Low’s tune “Holy Ghost,” from 2013, on her album “One True Vine,” additionally launched that 12 months.
Following Ms. Parker’s demise, Mr. Plant, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney had been among the many musical artists who spoke about her significance.
“I feel most individuals would take a look at Mimi and never estimate that she was a severe artist,” Jeff Tweedy of Wilco was quoted as saying in The Guardian. “I don’t assume she placed on any form of pretension — there was nothing about her that learn as something apart from regular Midwesterner.”
From the outset, Low was nicely positioned throughout the indie rock orbit. The band shared a label, the influential Seattle-based Sub Pop, with archetypal bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden. However Low’s minimalist, melancholy sound stood in sharp distinction to the anthems of Technology X angst that got here to outline the period.
With the couple buying and selling ethereal vocal harmonies over dirgelike tempos and shimmering sonic textures, Low drew inspiration from the Nineteen Eighties gloom rock of bands like Pleasure Division and from the Velvet Underground’s artfully dissonant early interval. Early in its profession the band got here to epitomize a distinct segment style referred to as slowcore, which took form within the late Nineteen Eighties with bands like American Music Membership and Galaxie 500.
“It’s form of my fault that the time period ‘slowcore’ received round,” Mr. Sparhawk stated in a cellphone interview. “It was coined by a file retailer clerk buddy of mine who noticed our first present. We had been joking about style names — you recognize, sub-sub-sub-categories of metallic and stuff like that. I discussed the time period in one among our first interviews. Earlier than we knew it, it was in every single place.”
Low outgrew that pigeonhole, nevertheless it continued to earn reward. Its most up-to-date album, “Hey What,” launched in 2021, obtained 4 stars from Rolling Stone.
“Few bands have stared into the abyss fairly like Low,” Kory Develop wrote in that evaluate, “parsing the frailty of the human situation, testing listeners with glacially sluggish tempos, encrusting stunning melodies in sparse textures or dissonance. And no band has carried out so with the identical beatific grace as Low.”
That grace was marked by brooding, typically morose lyrics, with references to religious vacancy and disappearing horizons. “Feeds my ardour for transcendence/Turns my water into wine/Makes me want I used to be empty/Now I don’t know a lot, however I can inform when somethin’s fallacious,” Ms. Parker sang on “Holy Ghost,” together with her husband harmonizing.
“I’ve been pushing in the direction of the wonder, and I do know Alan typically focuses on the chaos,” Ms. Parker stated in a 2021 interview on the NPR program “All Issues Thought of.”
Low’s lack of mainstream success was high-quality with Ms. Parker, Mr. Sparhawk stated, since she was shy and felt uneasy within the highlight.
“Hers was the voice of somebody who’s simply singing, not making an attempt to persuade you of one thing,” he stated. “She was not singing to you. She was not singing to be observed. Typically she didn’t even need to be seen. She simply wished to be.”
Mimi Jo Parker was born on Sept. 15, 1967, in Clearbrook, Minn., the youngest of three daughters of Robert and Pleasure (Berg) Parker.
Ms. Parker (who pronounced her first identify MIM-ee however by no means corrected anybody who pronounced it MEE-mee, Mr. Sparhawk stated) grew up on a farm run by her mother and father. Her father was additionally a carpenter and a mechanic, and her mom was a chef and an aspiring nation singer.
A self-professed tomboy, Ms. Parker tended to the animals (the pigs had been her favourite), most popular vehicles to dolls and excelled in basketball, volleyball and monitor in highschool.
She performed drums within the faculty marching band, and he or she honed her musical sensibility harmonizing together with her sisters as they sang together with their mom at residence and neighborhood occasions, Mr. Sparhawk stated.
She had identified Mr. Sparhawk because the fourth grade and commenced courting him in the summertime after her highschool junior 12 months. They married in 1990.
Mr. Sparhawk is Mormon, and Ms. Parker later joined the church, some extent usually talked about in articles in regards to the band. “Individuals identical to to say that we’re this quiet band from Minnesota that’s two-thirds Mormon,” she was quoted as saying within the music journal Chickfactor in 2001. “However hey, you recognize? We write some songs, too.”
Mr. Sparhawk attended Brigham Younger College for a 12 months, then joined Ms. Parker on the College of Minnesota Duluth. Following commencement, he invited Ms. Parker to affix a band he was forming with the bassist John Nichols. Drums, he stated, gave her a protected area on the rear of the stage from which to unleash her vocal stylings.
Ms. Parker was identified with most cancers in December 2020, however she didn’t disclose her sickness till the subsequent summer time, when the band was pressured to cancel a number of dates, together with a United States tour opening for the band Dying Cab for Cutie.
Along with her husband, she is survived by their kids, Hollis and Cyrus; her mom; and her sisters, Cindy Elam and Wanda Larson.
Regardless of her quiet character, Ms. Parker was no pushover. “She didn’t endure boring music,” Mr. Sparhawk stated. “She didn’t endure mediocrity.” With a soothing demeanor, Ms. Parker stored Low on the right track by way of lineup modifications and wearying touring schedules and recording periods.
As Mr. Sparhawk put it: “The actual soul and the magic that was there got here from Mim. Simply due to who she was, she stated, ‘Listed below are my parameters,’ and we needed to work inside these. In doing so, she mainly steered an in any other case fully chaotic and fast-burning explosion right into a sluggish and radiant glow that will final.”