Lo-Fi production aesthetic?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Crowder, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    Discuss.

    It seems like a lot of indie projects are going for that lo-fi sound. This trend coincides with the DIY trend. It makes me wonder how much this "preference" comes down to the tail wagging the dog. When I'm recrording at home, I use a good interface and mics, and I can get nice core tones. Where I can't compete with a commercial recording is in the extended highs and lows. In other words, I can easily replicate a lo-fi sound but it's much harder and more expensive to achieve extended fidelity.

    Is there a watershed artist or album that ushered in the lo-fi aesthetic?
     
  2. voodoochili12

    voodoochili12 Supporting Member

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    I'm not an audio engineer, so I will qualify my opinions as such. But, I would say that 95% of the 'lo-fi' sound is uneqvuivocally achieved using lo-fi technology. Take Karen O's new album, for example. I think it's called 'Crush Songs' - I surmise that the album was recorded with a tape recorder.

    That said, I kind of feel that some groups are labeled as 'lo-fi' simply because they are not 'hi-fi'. For example, the Flaming Lips have an amazing production aesthetic, which to a degree sounds lo-fi. But I would bet that they're using some very high end equipment.

    Another group that comes to mind is Perfect P*ssy. Lo-fi to my ears, but probably more due to the mixing and aesthetic than the signal paths.

    There's a Boston based group that was called Nate Wilson Group, now called Ghosts of Jupiter. They recorded their freshman album 'Unbound' (under Nate Wilson Group on Spotify) with a guy I know, and it was all through Digital Performer and some very nice equipment. It sounds analog though.
     
  3. Tritone

    Tritone Member

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  4. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I'm really disliking the trend I'm hearing towards "clattery" sounding drums.
     
  5. cjcayea

    cjcayea cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce Supporting Member

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    i dont know if id call this "watershed", but its got a good lo-fi thing going on, and great songs to go with it.
     
  6. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I predict it will sound as dated in the future as 80's production sounds now.
     
  7. voodoochili12

    voodoochili12 Supporting Member

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    Do you guys have any examples of this? I'm curious to hear what others are hearing. I don't really care about production as long as the music is good and ballsy. I mentioned Perfect P*ssy in my earlier post. Do they sound good? Not really. Is it badass? You bet.

    My problem is with lo-fi bands who suck but are the coolest dudes in town, so they get recognition for that reason alone.
     
  8. sksmith66

    sksmith66 Member

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    if you are talking about the whole mumford and sons/lumineers/pop-folk thing that is really popular now then I agree. that drum sound is going to date itself in the same way that 80s drum sounds have aged.
     
  9. fyler

    fyler Member

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    it sounds like a lot of these groups are trying to emulate both/either the raw garage/psych bands of the 60's, or the first wave of lo-fi DIY four track artists from the 80's & 90's.

    i find a large portion of these bands (who i'll choose not to start naming) can get really cool sounds, but don't seem to write very compelling material (to me, anyway - the above mentioned Ty Segall is an exception). personally, most of that stuff just makes me want to pull out my old Eric's Trip, Sebadoh, or Wingtip Sloat records.
     
  10. tapehead

    tapehead Member

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    See user name. I never stopped buying/listening to/making tapes. Not to suggest tape is inherently lofi (this misnomer is common with noobs inquiring about cassette 4tracks) but there's nostalgia for "the cassette sound" associated with $20 walkman and $35 tape recorders. For hipsters it's become the new vinyl.

    And I'm sure there are plenty of poseurs using plugins w/protools to sound like they recorded in a 1970 garage with radioshack mikes and a cheap transistorized mixer+reel to reel.....while employing modern ITB grid-snapping, patchwork punch-in techniques to record a bar or 2 at a time.

    Context is everything...some songs and styles of music work exceptionally well when stripped down bare to expose warts & all.
     
  11. cjcayea

    cjcayea cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce Supporting Member

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    i like this band too. sonic youth + joy division + danzig?

     
  12. mjt335

    mjt335 Member

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    I've become really interested in the old school / lofi sound recently as well, but not in the same musical context. I really appreciate the modern funk and soul guys that are making killer recordings using old technology and techniques. Listen to records by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings... or anything that's done at Daptone Studios in Brooklyn.

    If you read interviews by Gabe Roth (Dap Kings band leader, and head engineer at Daptone), he talks about how they aren't trying to create anything that's "throwback" or gimmicky like that, they are just trying to make records that sound like the records that they like... which happen to mostly be old soul records from the 60's.

    Check out Orgone, Monophonics, Menahan Street Band, Budos Band and The Olympians (for starters) if you want to hear some great modern music that has fantastic old school production aesthetic and vibe.
     
  13. natebernstein

    natebernstein Member

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    I feel like, some of the earlier examples mentioned in this thread notwithstanding, Bon Iver played a big role in helping this movement to blossom over the past several years with his first album back in 2007.
     
  14. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    IDK, maybe it's my ears or my lack of understanding this "lo-fi" style, but the two Youtube examples given do not sound lo-fi to me. The sound is fairly clear and doesn't sound old school analog. The style/songs might be hipster/lo-fi, but the audio isn't. True, they're not super polished production wise, but the audio doesn't not sound old school analog to me at all. I was just listening to some tracks recorded back in the 70's at A&M studios, using 24 track tape of course. It sounded night and day different from what was presented as lo-fi here. FWIW.
     
  15. sacakl

    sacakl Silver Supporting Member

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    I guess when I think of "lo-fi" style, I think of early White Stripes, Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Iron & Wine, etc. The examples above sound polished to me in comparison.
     
  16. Nevets

    Nevets Supporting Member

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    "Bee Thousand" by Guided by Voices is a pretty good example of the low-fi, recorded on a 4-track, aesthetic. But it was recorded by someone who knew what they were doing and knew how to get a good sound.
     
  17. 6789

    6789 Member

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  18. mtperry85

    mtperry85 Member

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    I define lo-fi as sounding like an actual band in a room... the exact opposite of the sanitized and overly compressed pop and rock that fills the airwaves.
     
  19. ohiomatt33

    ohiomatt33 Member

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    ^^^ I was going to chime in with Bon Iver as well. I think the Black Keys have played a big part in the lo-fi revival as well. (Definitely in pawn shop guitar revival.)

    I'm not particularly a big fan of it, I like punchy and clear recording. But to be honest I will give anything more of a chance that's done with old-school vibe in mind. (For reference, my favorite record is the Foo Fighter's "Wasting Light." Should I start building my flame-proof fort?)
     
  20. Trickstaaah

    Trickstaaah Member

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    Yeah, didn't the Black Keys record their first two or three records on an 8-track with one microphone in the basement? As I recall, they literally didn't have the cash to spend on recording gear because they had to pay rent and repair their touring van. It wasn't lo-fi for hipster street cred -- they just didn't have any other choice.
     

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