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2016: Lo-fi house emerged from the underground

The sub-genre exploded into life this year

  • Words: Harrison Williams | Illustration: Patch Keyes
  • 7 December 2016
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There's a counter cultural essence to the way in which producers release under-the-radar anthems on records pressed by a network of DIY labels across the world. The dusty essence of the music is appealing and is a characteristic that lies at the heart of the lo-fi aesthetic, but another possible cause for lo-fi’s increasing popularity, particularly in house music, is the pairing of rough and distorted rhythms with moody and ethereal melodies. A contrast of disparate styles allows the gritty motif to be more easily digestible, prompting a rush of new listeners to gravitate to this style.

For example, last year TRP, who confessed that he simply enjoys rougher house and techno and doesn't purposefully try to make 'lo-fi', released a free download of his edit of Huerco S.’s ‘Untitled’, fusing the dreamy atmospherics of the original with an edgy, beefed up 4/4 house beat. That track, which has boomed in adoration, is just one of many in recent history to deliver the balance of distortion and delicacy, a factor that escalated this past year.

Another artist who broke ground in 2016 is a newcomer who quickly gained notoriety throughout the industry and is one of the most recognizable names pumping out lo-fi. Following a string of EPs on 1080p, Collect-Call and the first release on Shall Not Fade, while also self-releasing his debut album, a 23-year-old Australian known as Mall Grab emerged and would showcase the remarkable scope of lo-fi at a rapid pace, a catalyst for the style’s ascent.

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