Authentically Badly Crafted by Professional Amateurs : Lo-fi aesthetics in noise and words
On account of its self-conscious rejection of professional-standard playing and production techniques, and of its emphasis on the home-made, lo-fi practice is often discussed in terms of its authenticity. However, while the concept is widely discussed across popular music genres, what is meant by ‘authenticity’ remains elusive and much open to being twisted to suit one’s own ideological cravings. In this essay, I examine more closely how the concept of authenticity is commonly employed in lo-fi discourse, highlighting the tensions and contradictions surrounding the usage of the term, and evaluating ways in which the concept may be more usefully understood in the context of lo-fi practice. The central thesis informing my analysis is that technologically reproduced sound cannot escape re-presentation, and therefore any ideology that regards specific processes and working practices as marks of authenticity can only incur in logical inconsistencies and technological mystifications.