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General music

5 cheers for Lo-fi

Imperfect gems

by Jimmy Bartolo 08 Oct 2016

We all love a well produced, polished record in our musical collection to give us that sparkly ambition of Abbey Road, Orchestral tunings and Rick Rubin's beard.

True as that may be, I am however a firm believer that real beauty also shows itself through imperfection; especially when it comes to music. Steering us away from the mass produced, over analyzed, intimidating and not to mention, expensive masterpieces that we all know and love, it is the sounds of that shabby old basement, metronome off and one or two takes at the most to which I find inspiration in our general music section this week. 

So without further a due, I share with you some of my favorite recordings that hold a very special and imperfect place in my heart.

Thank God For Mental Illness - The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I don’t think it gets any more underproduced than this. Even its cover depicting Jonestown’s iconic tambourine man Joel Gion looks like something a 5-year old would create out of a paint project on Microsoft. Not surprising after founder and main contributor Anton Newcombe admitted to spending $17 in total on the album. Tamborines, harmonicas, guitars and sounds of traffic make their way into this very characteristic release. 

In An Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel

Definitely one of the most iconic on the list. Multiple instruments, noise and distorted acoustic guitars make this one hell of a soundscape adventure for anyone wanting to expand their production techniques. Taking you on a trip from punk-driven rockers to lyrically obscure acoustic singer songwriter material, the sounds on here are well crafted as they are raw.

Roman Candle - Elliot Smith

Haunting double vocals and acoustic finger style technique definitely sums up the foundation of this folk-sounding album. With minimal drumming on a few tracks it’s safe to say that this piece of work is all heart and true to keeping its songs unaffected by multiple layering which can be caused by overproduction. 

Slanted And Enchanted - Pavement

Another iconic 90’s cut that defines the era perfectly; bass fuzz, distant vocals, muffled snare drums and string scratches are coming in from all directions known to stereokind. Controlled yet chaotic with some of the catchiest hooks that you could ever want and not a single 3-part harmony on there!

Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot - Sparklehorse

I have a real soft spot for this one. Beautifully written songs in styles varying from pop structured alternative to one verse album fillers and sustained noise outros, all however, leaving an emotional print on any listener. An anti-overproduction musical renegade, the work of Mark Linkous teaches us that every sound, be it melodic or plain noise has a purpose and needs simply to be orchesrated in the same manner that you would a guitar or a voice. 


Jimmy Bartolo

Jimmy is Kwaver’s Music Community Evangalist. He juggles between fretboard and keyboard and is the one reaching out to our users whether to improve our app or for a quick jam.


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