Backstage is kicking off the new year with a top 10 favorite Low-Fi artists of one of our freshly joined contributors - Troels. “Freshly” - somewhat; it’s been actually a few months, which is all the more reason to have Troels dive into the large Low-Fi selection and find some gems. Here are the findings in his own words.
It was not until my mid 20s that I really found any discernible taste in music. Since then, especially with the online availability of music of every genre, my taste keeps changing as I try to challenge my preconceptions, and I am happy that here I’ve had yet another opportunity to do so. There are so many great artists on Low-Fi that I am sure I have missed many gems as I went exploring. Although I am a Dane I sometimes forget to listen to music in Danish despite it being what I grew up with so in my selection process I found myself delving into that once more, and some of my choices reflect this.
The following 10 artists are not listed in order of preference, but in the order I discovered them:
Whimsical and full of beautiful harmonies, Permafrost has a playful and ethereal quality accentuated by piano and glockenspiel. The music takes me on a journey into a world of mixed cultural influences far away from the mundane. They also show that they are not afraid of going purely instrumental with the beautiful and wistful sounding Winterlude featuring a duet between a clarinet and a piano.
I don’t really know how to place Troln in terms of genre. The song I’ve used as an example here has a very simple drumbeat serving as the foundation on which the rest of the track is built; the rest of the instruments not so much follow a fixed melody as they weave in and out to accompany the singer’s otherworldly voice.
This was selected purely based on my own genre bias. With an album very aptly named Chillout for Robots, Pearlcorder invokes a discordant realm of computer sounds. It is music that challenges the ears with its irregularities. It’s restless and relentless and exactly the kind of music you’d imagine a robot listening to after a hard day’s work.
The first Danish entry that endeared me, along with its sincere and upfront lyrics, with references that resonate with a modern audience and filled with warmth, humour and self-irony. With references to cell phones, Facebook and baristas, it appeals to my millenial heart. Any kind of music that uses pop cultural references and doesn’t take itself seriously easily wins me over.
Another Danish artist and the most unexpected entry into this list, this is pure fast-paced rap. Fabeldyret’s thematic album describes with visceral language the rise and fall of a dictator through the tropes of a rap narrative; the lower-class protagonist that reaches accomplishment through hardship. It’s difficult to explain its appeal in English because the lyrics and the wordplays are in Danish, but I think even if you don’t understand Danish you will be able to hear that there’s a lot of energy behind the music.
Fjer, the Danish word for feather, is a great name, because it fits the lightness in her voice. This R&B artist makes for easy listening without being predictable. There is a lot of variety in the tracks in terms of beat and instrumentation. I admit to knowing very little about R&B, but I know what I like, and Fjer definitely won me over. My favourite track is Dim the Lights, which has a an exciting up-tempo beat that puts me in a good mood. The song is from her freshly released debut album You Again, so you should definitely give the whole LP a listen.
Here’s an American entry. It is filled with warm country vibes, complete with wistful strings and equal parts love and melancholy. I’m a sucker for male-female harmonies, and their voices compliment each other wonderfully. There’s a believable, relatable and unpretentious quality to the music. There’s no artsiness for the sake of it, no unnecessary bells and whistles. It speaks for itself and sings to the heart.
I love the electronic vibes that give Gottschalk a spacey feel. The songs range from the upbeat Open Door to the slow and almost whispered Need to Belong, in which I almost imagine the voice coming from the depth of space with background sounds that can only be conveyed through music. There is so much richness and variety that I don’t ever know exactly what genre I am in, and Gottschalk’s voice has a soft wispy quality full of soul.
The last Danish language entry, Bastion plays an understated style that finds its voice in the simple facts and motions of life. There’s longing, contemplation and appreciation for love and feeling the moment. It’s dreamy, vulnerable and full of clear imagery that helps the listener understand the emotions that lie behind each song. Perfect music for a rainy day as the wind is blowing outside.
Last but not least, Feel Freeze once again brings me back to the word ethereal (that I had actually promised myself I would use less in 2019 because it’s one of my most used words). I kind of don’t want to say too much about this and rather just let the music do the work. It’s both cosmic, intimate, wistful and optimistic. They sound like anthems of the space age, like songs sung aboard a spacecraft that takes me to a faraway galaxy.