For the first time in this position I didn’t have anything in mind for this article.
Usually something is on the tip of my audio tongue. Not this month. It left me in quite an exciting position as it meant doing what’s most important, and that’s searching for the good stuff. I’ve searched through French Electronica to Australian fuzz-core; moving sideways across Baltimorean Hip-hop and spoken word from South Essex. In the end I found myself talking about a subject I’m not 100% sure how I feel about yet: Lo-Fi. It being the opposite of Hi-FI – meaning High Fidelity, the enjoyment of wondrous sound and the purest of mixing. Dolby 5.1, Bang & Borethefuckoutofson, music layered in a way that few could orchestrate but everyone agrees is just the best way to listen. Or is it?
Lo-Fi. It being the opposite of Hi-FI – meaning High Fidelity, the enjoyment of wondrous sound and the purest of mixing. Dolby 5.1, Bang & Borethefuckoutofson
Recently it’s struck me that maybe a bit of fuzz isn’t so bad? Maybe the instant quip that the acoustic isn’t perfect isn’t all that should be considered. Cast your mind back to the best gig you ever saw, was the sound crisp? Were you seated in a comfy chair? Was your belly full of rich warm foods? Did it get you really excited? It’s been said that watching a gig from the rear of the room or the gods might not be the best way. The performance ultimately ends up a little long in the tooth and the punter starts thinking about that last tube home.
The subject brings me to the London band Crushed Beaks and the song 'Think Lucky'. Think Lucky (Demo) by Crushed Beaks
From its initial burst of gristled guitar coming from the vacant space of silence it sounds honest and full of energy. The melody is one influenced by years of well-honed indie listening. It’s drums and guitar. The intro fades and welcomes a verse anchored by crackly drums and rough-yet-slight guitar. Alex Morris’ deep voice spits the verse in a punchy lackadaisical manner. The energy subsides in the bridge: ‘this is not a love song……’’ with twitchy out-of-key guitar leading into the punch and crunch of the chorus. Morris saves the pinnacle of the track to display another character to his voice with a warm and whiney passionate chant. The lovable thing about this chorus that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy from a well-polished gem is that you can make up your own lines. The melody's great so just let out some words 'It’s not just the way you say it, we’ve had ideals, WE’VE HAD IDEALS!' You can feel the power radiate through the sound. The gush of noise from the intro then bookends the vocal chorus, moving at a frenetic pace. The feeling it’s all going to run out too quickly – like good hardcore does – becomes ever present.
The melody is one influenced by years of well-honed indie listening. It’s drums and guitar.
No Age seem an obvious comparison, along with a tinge of The Pixies. The verse rumbles back into presence and the mumbled words of the vocal carry the song, but you know what’s coming and the chorus re-engages with your ears and wets your sweaty palms. The short, sharp shout of the chorus encourages you to enjoy every millisecond as you know it’s going to be over all too quickly. As the second chorus finishes you know you're not complete, but the track is done with you, sapping it’s distorted energy and slowly fizzling down with some barking guitar.
There you have it. In 3:09 seconds more energy than you can find in a week of work, laid down on a low-key computer or Dictaphone and bursting with power and energy. Even if Terry Date decided to produce Crushed Beaks I’m not sure I’d want to hear it. Isn’t a bands best stuff always their first album? Then by that token a band's first demo, in this case 'Think Lucky', is a treasure indeed.
So let’s not delve into Hi-Fi vs Lo-Fi. Maybe we shouldn’t dismiss bad sound quality in an instant, but appreciate the energy, the honesty and the warmth of it. It’s certainly more fun to be involved in some roughened madness than to be lost in crystal clarity.
Crushed Beaks image by Eric Waring
Liam runs the small but potentially revolutionary radio station Different Class Radio, he just needs that one idea.