The movement consisted of artists that played extremely slow tempo, soft, and amazingly depressing music. The purpose was to make the music as non-commercially accessible as possible. The genre also had a sister genre called Sadcore, but besides lyrical content, there wasn't much to differentiate between the two subgenres.
While many people have the misconception that Low was the first Slowcore band, the credit actually goes to indie band Codeine and their 1991 album Frigid Stars. The Trope Codifier were Red House Painters with their signature atmosphere-based, slow paced songs. Low wouldn't even enter the music scene until 1993, but they can get the credit for being the Trope Namer as they came up with the name of the genre.
It is said that the movement was so powerful that it made 4AD Records move its main niche from Dream Pop to Slowcore (though the breakup of several of its flagship Dream Pop bands probably had something to do with it, and slowcore itself isn't very far removed from Dream Pop).
The movement slowly fizzled out in the late 90s as the Indie bands involved in the movement went on to actually make more commercially accessible music (some blame the rise of Neutral Milk Hotel, while others blame the sudden success of Elliott Smith). Some bands continued to make slow-themed music like the Red House Painters and their Spiritual Successor, Sun Kil Moon.
The bands are becoming something of cult classics, especially Red House Painters. Mark Kozelek's music in general has been sweeping up more and more hype as countless modern musicians continue to list him as an influence. The same can be said about all of the other musicians to a smaller extent. It's easy to see how artists like Bon Iver incorporate the elements of slowcore into their music.
Artists and bands commonly associated with this movement:
- American Music Club
- Bluetile Lounge
- Cat Power (it's either that or sadcore)
- Damon & Naomi
- Elliott Smith
- The For Carnation
- Galaxie 500 (technically Dream Pop, but very influential on the genre)
- Radar Bros.
- Red House Painters
- Sun Kil Moon