King Tut’s, Glasgow, Sun 5 Aug; Liquid Room. Edinburgh, Mon 6 Aug.

There isn’t exactly a long and prestigious history of Mormon bands, is there? There’s The Osmonds and, erm, that’s it. Well, now there’s also Low. But before you go running for the nearest inverted crucifix, Low are not some deadly dull Christian rock band, oh no.

The Minnesotan trio, consisting of husband and wife pair Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker along with friend Zak Sally, formed in the mid-90$ as a reaction to the increasingly dumb-ass corporate takeover of the grunge phenomenon.

Creating slow, quiet, delicate, glacial tunes of real emotion, the band quickly got on the nerves of the alternate rock crowd, while also endearing themselves to the hearts of sensitive music fans around the world.

‘We like grunge music,’ says Sparhawk of the band’s genesis, ‘but around 1993 there were so many people doing that music and getting caught up in the business end of it, it just kinda sickened us. I decided I wanted to follow something I was interested in and not have to worry about whether Sony was gonna come calling or not, and strangely enough, it ended up working out.’

Five albums down the line, and things certainly have worked out for Low. Their most recent album, Things We

ROCK EXPERIMFNl/‘xl 44’STIVAL 13th Note Club, Glasgow, Wed 8

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Lost In The Fire, is their best yet, and shows the band gradually refining their distinctive, understated sound, with help from, of all people, grunge guru Steve Albini.

‘Well, he works fast and he’s cheap,‘ jokes Sparhawk of their choice of producer. ‘No, we get along real well, he seems to have the same attitude to recording as we do. He keeps things simple and honest and doesn’t screw around trying to fix things too much.’

Much has been made of Sparhawk and Parker’s religious beliefs in the press, and Sparhawk, although obviously tired of the attention it gets, isn’t about to shy away from talking about his faith.

‘It’s definitely an influence on what we do and a big part of our lives,’ he admits, ‘in much the same way as anyone’s beliefs about who they are and their life is gonna creep into what they create. It just so happens we have a name for it, Mormonism. But at the end of the day it becomes more of a headline in a newspaper than anything else.’

A recent baby for Sparhawk and Parker has meant live outings are relatively rare events these days, and tour planning takes on military campaign levels. ‘Yeah, we have to plan ahead,’ says Sparhawk. ‘Before, we’d just do a show then hang out till two or three in the morning. Now we have to sort things out in advance, cos babies don’t like sleeping on the floor of punk rock squats, you know.’ (Doug Johnstone)

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SIMIAN King Tut's. Glasgow. Mon 16 Jul. 0.

‘To significantly improve your chances of getting into heaven, put the booklet flat on the ground and get down on all fours...‘

The ‘Church Of Simian' hymn sheet handed out on arrival offers little clues, other than that we're dealing with oddballs here. But when they do take to the stage, you feel them before you see them. Shrouded in darkness and sporting suitably sombre attire, the exaggerated shudder of bass guitar vibrates from toe to teeth to make their presence known.

But don‘t expect rock from the church of noise, for Simian don’t swing that way. The Brownie points they have acquired so far have been through their pencilling of semi-electronica into a ‘conventional‘ acoustic band

A failed chemistry experiment

set-up. Psychedelic psalms or folk freaks? A bit of both, really.

In truth, the spectacle is disappointingly flat. Even the predominantly mono stills forming the projection backdrop are altogether random and forgettable images of people and places, failing to capture any intended artistic aesthetic.

The sounds are more curious, though. Fashionably drearish and robust, Simian take off with a steely instrumental, before the singer’s warble pitches somewhere between melancholic and alcoholic. ‘Mr Crow’ easily stands out, daring to unthread some pop choruses and finding a noticeably skewered take on melody that allies Simian to the missing link between Mansun and Clearlake.

‘Chemistry is what we are,’ they declare. If you can make sense of that, then maybe it’ll put you in better stead to understand Simian themselves.

(Jason Cranwell)