THE LOW ANTHEM
“One second you’re dozing off in the passenger seat on the way to a gig, and the next, there’s fire and hell flames and black smoke and your face is bleeding and you can’t see, and you can’t process information, and you think it’s all over.” Jeff Prystowsky is describing one of the scariest moments in his life, as The Low Anthem’s tour van crashed and subsequently wiped out Prystowsky for several weeks, as well as wrecking loads of their gear and instruments in the process.
However, the accident also acted as an inadvertent impetus for their latest record whilst Prystowsky was in recovery: a John Cage-influenced concept record. A beautiful, elegiac and largely acoustic – though peppered with subtle yet immersive electronics and humming ambience – album of twelve tracks that barely stretch past the two-minute mark. Recalling the more progressive moments of artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Lambchop, it’s a record of a deep richness, loaded with extreme subtleties and with a space and delicacy counter to the group’s previous dense and complex album.
The album feels like a new palate for the group and comes at the end of a period of profound change and evolution. Not only did the van crash cancel their tour (after just four dates) but, combined with some record company troubles, it led to the album they were due to tour all but disappearing. Eyeland was the group’s deeply experimental 2016 album, one that was their first in several years and one that was also a direct response to a world in which they had found themselves but didn’t really want to be.
It takes a mix of skill and luck to tend a garden well, but it’s impossible without a certain amount of amount of kindness tended. While the cyclical nature of gardening seems inherent, in some ways, Heynderickx is just beginning. Her debut album, named I Need to Start a Garden out of a search for calm through these waves of uncertainty and upheaval, was released March 2, 2018 via Mama Bird Recording Co.
For the empathetic singer/songwriter, the reasons for seeking such acceptance and understanding stem from a life of paradoxes. Heynderickx grew up in a religious household in Oregon, closely identifying with her Filipino roots, but also straddling multiple cultural identities. Now residing in Portland, her faith is not overt, but her introspection and continued struggle for selfactualization are easily accessible and relatable.