Shy, Low: Post-Metal Post-Rockers Release New EP

Posted by: Necci – Jun 11, 2013


Shy, Low is a post-rock band based here in Richmond. Having formed after the breakup of the members' previous band, local post-metal outfit Vessel, the band has already managed to start a prolific run. In the two short years that Shy, Low has been playing under their current moniker, they have played tons of shows locally and toured the East Coast. Now they are getting ready to release their second record, Binary Opposition, through Spartan Records, which is based out of Seattle, Washington.

Shy, Low is part of the Subterranea Collective, a local group of ambitious musicians and multimedia artists with a progressive musical outlook. Currently bearing a slight similarity to other post-rock bands from Richmond such as Comrades and fellow Subterranea members Night Idea, Shy, Low's ambient post rock sound evolved from the members' previous projects, most of which were heavier bands with few post-rock influences. Metal and post-rock are complimentary styles, and the members of Shy, Low who had previously mixed heavy, distorted guitar tones with lots of delay and tremolo picking, eventually started embracing the instrumental post-rock sound of acts such as Explosions in the Sky, Mono, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Lengthier build-ups, downtempo interludes, and tons of delay and tremolo all can be found on the band’s two records.

Their new record, Binary Opposition, is a two-song EP, and there's a stark contrast between the two tracks. The first, "Presence," is hopeful and uplifting, while the second, "Absence," is rather dark and brooding. The EP's title is a reflection of the contrast in its sound. “Musical juxtaposition is the big thing for us,” says bassist Ian Currie. “The title just ended up coming in more after the fact. We wrote both those songs in pretty close [period] of time, they both just seemed to juxtapose [with] one another.”

Photo by Jason Muckle

Binary Opposition was recorded at Inner Ear Studios in Arlington, VA, the same place where legendary DC hardcore bands such as Minor Threat and Rites of Spring recorded. “It was a cool experience," said Currie. "We were talking to [studio owner] Don [Zientara], and he was like ‘Fugazi’s gear is in the attic.’ We were like, ‘Can we see it?’” said Currie. “There were also tons of pictures of Henry Rollins, Elliott Smith, and Ian Mackaye. It was fucking awesome.”

The album was recorded with Richmond native Allen Bergendahl of Viking Recordings, who had recorded the band’s first album as well. The band wanted to record with someone who was already familiar with their sound, and with whom they had already established a relationship. “Allen is awesome, and he’s gonna be with us every time we record, I imagine,” said drummer Sean Doody. "He’s one of our best friends. It was really great having him again. He’s comfortable with us and we’re comfortable with him. It made it easier.”

Photo by Randy Blythe

The band recorded Binary Opposition live, opting to record both songs on analog tape. The way the album was recorded is definitely noticeable on the album; it has an intensely rich sound. Every note picked, every stick hit, and all the ambient noise the guitars generate sounds so natural. “There’s a rawness to it. If you listen very closely you can hear an imperfection here and an imperfection there, but it just has such an awesome feel to it,” said Doody.

Shy, Low is just another example of the hard-working and talented bands from Richmond that are now making splashes not just regionally, but nationally and abroad as well. The band’s first album had been picked up on Fluttery Records, which has been distributing the band’s self-titled first CD in Europe since January 2012, shortly after its release.

Photo by Brandon Hambright

The release in Europe has definitely given some more exposure to Shy, Low overseas. Plans for possibly touring overseas now seem more feasible than before, with some show offers having been made, “We actually just got an e-mail from someone in Russia asking us to come and do Moscow and St. Petersburg dates, asking for our terms and conditions,” said Currie. “I told him we’d talk about it and get back to him, so maybe that can happen in the future.” Currie does admit that while a European tour could be possible, the band still has commitments such as work and school that will prevent them from leaving town for too long.

The band has also been getting notice from other large publications and blogs, having been featured in Alternative Press and on Property of Zack. They were also featured on PBS independent music show Aux Send back in October. The band performed three songs off their self-titled release as well as an early version of "Presence."

Shy, Low will be embarking on a two week tour starting mid-July to support the release of Binary Opposition, which will be released on June 25. Pre-orders for the EP are currently available on vinyl or digital download; the vinyl version of the EP comes with a digital download as well. All digital downloads feature a bonus, previously unreleased track recorded at the same time as their self-titled album, called "Voyager." The three tracks add up to 34 total minutes of music--definitely a good deal for the price.

Shy, Low will also be performing Tuesday, June 11 at Gallery 5, located at 200 W. Marshall Street, with Sparrows, Servants, Cut the Architect’s Hand, and Caretaker. The show costs $5 and starts at 7pm. For more information, check out the event page here.

By Chris Suarez