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The Microphones | It Was Hot, We Stayed In The Water (K)
Hear the term 'lo-fi' and one automatically thinks 'low production values.' Several years of releases during the mid-90s pioneering such standards have inculcated in our brains that reaction, but lo-fi rarely shows up under the guise of crappily recorded material anymore. Home recording has exploded as a result of cheaper and ever more powerful digital technology and ready access to 'antiquated gear (and instructions on how to use and maintain it - thank you internet). Nowadays, bands use lo-fi as an aesthetic, an alternate means of approaching the recording and mixing of sound. The Microphones' current release is about creating atmospheres using this aesthetic, not only within each song, but congruently throughout the body of work. It Was Hot... is a miniature masterpiece of bedroom psych, a form which lends itself to the textural nature and closeness of the lo-fi sound. This is a well recorded record, but the sonics are carefully dismantled in spots via close micing, overmodulation (recording too hot for the sake of distortion-getting), purposefully mistuned (or ignored) instrumentation, and various other techniques that would invoke the wrath of your typically close-minded pro recording engineer. The 'phones interweave acoustic sparity with the ponderous girth of things more electric, always with an eye to exploiting the stereo spectrum. It's humble, starstruck, playful and melodic, and it dreams its goals in sound fully realized.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001