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Homemade records, tape-hiss worship and a taste for a very peculiar kind of psychedelia have carved themselves a weird niche in the contemporary musical landscape under the name of lo-fi.
This genreless genre, characterized by poor recordings and rough sounds, spanning from the most extreme heavy metal to the sweetest ear-candies pop can offer, has become a solid presence in our collective sensibility. And yet, it has largely been neglected: this staunch refusal of anything hi-fi and hi-tech has fallen under the radar of the categories we use to analyse ourselves and our times.
The Great Psychic Outdoors, dedicated to the most interesting and controversial artists in this movement, will rectify this injustice and vindicate the revolutionary potential of lo-fi music, engaging with this weird genre on its own terms and facing head on the contradictions and possibilities of this multi-faceted phenomenon. Confronting the aesthetic and conceptual stakes of this sonic craft, The Great Psychic Outdoors shows what lo-fi says about us, our lives under capitalism and the strange ways we cope with pain, madness and beauty.
Enrico Monacelli is a philosopher and cultural critic. He is a PhD candidate at the Università degli Studi of Milan and writes regularly for The Quietus. He was a founding member of the now-defunct occultural research unit Gruppo di Nun and worked with them on their Revolutionary Demonology (Urbanomic, 2022).
“Enrico’s doting warmth for all things Lo-fi will surely enchant you. Expect to find yourself perusing the dusty shelves of your local charity shop for a half working cassette deck the moment you close this book. Do you want to know why ‘bad’ is really good? Start reading!”
“Many will buy this book for the sonic adventures it promises, only to find themselves down unexpected rabbit holes of radical politics and philosophical inquiry. It is an experience to be cherished. We don’t tend to write books about music like this anymore. But we should.”
“Through the pioneers of recording sabotage, this book punches aseries of holes on Pop music’s silhouette to drag you through the joys and curses of sonic interzones, obsolete technologic patchworks and outcast techniques. For those who dwell in the uncertain fields of broken frequencies and hijacked transducers, this is it.”
“The Great Psychic Outdoors is today’s bible of outsider glam… Read about lo-fi as a sovereign act of slackerdom. Ride waves of foggy meanings, where music drifts off into noise, cut-ups, soundscapes, echoes, feedback and other imperfections—and listen how poetry derails.”
“A well written and informed intro into the world of lo-fi interweaving politics, philosophy… From Monacelli’s bedroom, listening to Smog, to the cult of R. Stevie Moore, the mystical Daniel Johnston and many more. A great overview for those new to the genre and a must read for anyone wanting to know more.”
“When the world is too much, when everything is just too slick, too smooth, too processed – that is when lo-fi music, thanks to its very subtractions, can take us someplace else, someplace new. In this book, Enrico Monacelli guides us through the surprising varieties of lo-fi experience.”
“I’m so glad someone has finally written a book like this. It helped me realize all the reasons why I love lo-fi music — why it’s been so important to me in my life, and why it deserves greater attention and recognition.”
“The Great Psychic Outdoors is not only a history and theory of Low Fidelity. It is the most urgent aesthetic treatise of our century.”