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What exactly is lo-fi house? And more importantly is it any good?

lo-fi house

Poorly produced house, or something genuinely interesting that’s worth talking about?

Over the last 18 months, something dubbed lo-fi house has begun to take hold, producers like Ross From Friends and DJ Seinfeld have been thrust into the limelight with their rough and distorted rhythms and moody and ethereal melodies.

Is it any good?

It’s certainly a welcome return to dance music’s more rebellious side, after year’s of overly produced house music, the genre’s telltale lo-fi aesthetic certainly makes for more interesting music. Whether it’s going to become the new sheep house remains to be seen. At the moment lo-fi is still the preserve of bedroom producers and DIY labels, but can almost guarantee that some unscrupulous major label executive is rubbing his hands at the idea of releasing something called ‘Lo-fi Anthems 12’.

Who is making the best lo-fi?

Well, that’s a difficult question to answer, we’ve recently stumbled across a track from Grove Street that’s very nice and features a subtle yet hypnotic groove as the track’s melodies twinkle off in the distance. What’s really nice, thought, is there are none of the usual pop-house tropes; there are no wooshing breakdowns, there is no melody drive basslines — just subtly produced house music. Even the video exudes the genre’s low-rent aesthetic.

Is lo-fi house just a reaction to the deluge of major label-backed boring pop house?

Quite possible, over the last 18 months commercial pop house has become something of pervasive sound — it’s often seen by labels and artists as a quick way to get a hit. And that’s all well and good, producers need to eat. But it’s not exactly in the spirit in which house was created. For us, it’s over preened nonsense, full of annoying vocals that lack almost any ingenuity or credibility. Lo-fi seems — on the face of it — to be a way for independent producers to take ownership of house once music again. But let’s not kid ourselves, lo-fi can be boring too.

“I suppose subconsciously it could be seen as a reaction to this hi-fi soundscape which we’re living in, where every producer is striving toward perfection,” Ross From Friends, one of lo-fi house’s key names, said in an interview last year. “It’s kind of like [people are saying], ‘We’re going to stick with the old school and keep it analogue and not have anything over 10,000 Hz audible in our music.’ I do it because I’ve gained a real love for the old school sound, where it really just sounds worn-out and knackered, and it’s got a lot of character. Everything’s very crushed and compressed.”

Andrew Rafter

Andrew Rafter is the editor and founder of Harder Blogger Faster.