The ZF top 10 feature returns in 2017! If you haven’t read one of these before, let me start by telling you what its about. Basically does what it says on the tin, I list (in no particular order) tracks that I rate under a specific genre, writing a bit about the artist and the song in the process. Simple as that really. There are sometimes also rules for selection usually depending on the genre or list, but then sometimes no set rules at all. I digress anyway, lets get on with the feature; Lo-Fi House.
What is Lo-Fi?
There are many opinions into the factors of what makes Lo-Fi the musical genre that it is.
Without going to Wikipedia for the answer, the best words I’ve read that generally sum up the genre are these…
“Lo-fi music is defined as anything with a ‘lower quality’ sound. This is a purely technical classification, and not a statement on the quality or value of the music produced. The term lo-fi is an abbreviation of low fidelity, meaning music that includes technical flaws such as background noise, distortion or hum. These ‘flaws’ could be seen as mistakes, but some musicians and producers utilise them as part of their art.” (via mn2s.com)
So with that brief introduction on the form of Lo-Fi music, if you then add the musical noun of ‘House’ to it, you have Lo-Fi House; a genre that with its rough and experimental sounds has a inherent warmth and charm to it. With this list I wanted to sum up my listening experience of this genre in the last few months. Finding new tracks and discovering songs from years ago I didn’t know I had. However as a rule, I have not included “widely” known tracks like DJ Boring – Winona or Ross From Friends – Talk To Me You’ll Understand as although they are brilliant songs and great examples of the genre, they have been blogged to death. So with that here are the tunes.
1. Steve Murphy – Relax (Route 8’s Relaxed Remix)
Let’s start at the beginning. 2014 was the year I started following music blog, XLR8R. It quickly became my source for free downloads when I was looking for something other than the usual deep-tech-bass-whatever house I was listening to at that time. Now I don’t remember downloading this Route 8 remix at all (non-suprising as I download almost 50-100 tracks in a month) but I’m sure in my head I would have thought…”Hmm this is pretty chill, perhaps this would be good for early morning afterparty”. I’d completely forgot about the track, until about two months ago I came across Route 8 again and it quickly became one of my favourites due to its simple amalgamation of distorted kick drums and percussion.
2. Moodymann – The Day We Lost The Soul / Tribute!
(To The Soul We Lost)
Now, I am aware that this song was released in 1995, so you could argue that it’s Lo-Fi quality is just the age of the track. I disagree, if you compare the difference in production to another 1995 release, Nightcrawlers – Push the Feeling on, the instrumentals sound cleaner. Whereas with Moodymann’s track, there are noticeable elements that lean it towards being of the Lo-Fi variety. But it’s the chopped up vocals and catchy rhythmic percussion is what makes this track a real gem. I found this track after reading an article about skaters and house, which was where my love for the genre started.
3. Deejay Astral – Never Gonna Let U Go
I love how you can get lost in finding songs sometimes. By this I mean that you can stick a pair of headphones on and immerse yourself into hours and hours of music exploration, discovering sounds you didn’t even think existed. The journey to the discovery of this song went something like this. Found out about Mall Grab, read about his labels Shall Not Fade/Steel city dance discs, looked at his artists under this label, found Deejay Astral. Looked for more of his music on youtube and found this beautiful edit (Big respect to Slav for the upload). Anyone who is a bit of UKG head like me, will adore this just for the vocal alone.
4. Dan Shake – 3AM Jazz Club’
One track that really encompasses the warm and charming nature of Lo-Fi is 3AM Jazz Club. It does sound a little cleaner compared to the more distorted works of Ross from friends and J.Albert. But I think it’s the crunchy high hats and claps that keep it within the Lo-Fi description. Dan Shake is no stranger to style, you only have to listen to his Soundcloud to realise why he was the first non-detroit person to be signed to Moodymann’s prestigious label, Mahogany Music.
5. Deadboy – RU4ME
I’ve been following Deadboy since his Wish U Were Here days. I’ve always enjoyed his discoid housed-up garage infusions. He offers a different option when making selects for a DJ sets, you can’t deny that Deadboy does his own thing musically and he does it very well. I was happy when I came across (by accident) the above release whilst browsing garms on Unknown to the Unknown website. It would seem that Deadboy has turned his attentions towards the DJ Haus owned label, where fellow Lo-Fi producers TRP and Mall Grab also reside and he’s making sick Lo-Fi music.
6. Andreas Saag – Suddenly I Woke Up
I have only one word to describe this. DAMN. Andreas Saag goes IN with this acid-esque Lo-Fi track. Those piano stabs are clean as, but it’s the overall percussion and that banging acid synth line, that really makes this track kick. Definitely not your typical Lo-Fi track but I think it earns a right to be in this list due to the songs make-up. The entire track seems messy but somehow it just works and I love those little modulator change-ups that are added in for extra effect. Get your copy from Local Talk today.
7. Demuja – Peggy
This is another fantastic track made with one place in mind for it to be played; the club. There’s a certainty that if someone picks the right time to drop this at party, that it will really get the dance floor moving. With that strong repetitive modular synth line and hard kick drums keeping the song moving forward progressively, something club-goers can really dance to, it’s no surprise that Demuja’s popularity has taken off after the release of this track. I’m honestly not sure what the visuals are about in the video, but who needs to understand the methodology in art?
8. Tlim Shug – House2 (NYE)
This one is a fairly new find, but it was a great find. Whilst searching for artists to interview for the “5 minutes with…” feature (coming soon…) on soundcloud, I noticed that a lot of them had saved the same track, this song. Now considering the Lo-Fi House community is fairly small in comparison to say that of Tech House community (everybody and his mum seems to making Tech House nowadays, you know), its still great to see one individual track and producer like Tlim Shug make headway above the rest in a small community, means it’s kinda special…also with it being a free download helps too.
9. Bruce Trail – Bridgework
This track I think was particularly under-rated in 2016. Why? you ask. It’s because tracks like Winona, Talk To Me You’ll Understand or Can’t (although good songs) are the same all the way through. There is nothing wrong with this, but I like a bit of contrast in my music. Bruce trail starts off the intro to Bridgework with a gentler tone, but then you get to about 2.50 mins into it and after the vocal “the city never sleeps” brings it into a really nice vibe. A laid back Lo-fi tune that shows some contract, my idea of perfection within the genre.
10. Brassica – Time Tunnel
This song isn’t strictly a Lo-Fi track, Beatport describes this as Deep House (but what does Beatport know anyway). I think it’s the little touches to this track that gives it Lo-Fi tones, such as the presence of white noise to make it sound like it’s come straight off a vinyl. Also the total combination of all the instruments, sounds and effects together give a tribute to the rave scene in the past, where the very essence of Lo-Fi production was core to it’s almost punk DIY like attitude. which I can only presume is why Brassica called it Time tunnel. Feel My Bicep will be THE label to watch this year, trust me.