Record Review - 5 June 19 2002

Lo-fi has long been synonymous with “homemade.” Tape hiss and muffled drums, long the last-ditch option of folks who couldn’t (or chose not to) afford anything better, quickly became a badge of authenticity. But cheap digital devices like ProTools have ensured that bedroom recordings frequently sound as good as, or better than, expensive studio product. So now, lo-fi has become a deliberate aesthetic choice rather than a cross to bear.?

Take Fog, aka 23-year-old Minneapolitan Andrew Broder. Best known as the editor of the scabrously funny hip-hop satire zine Life Sucks Die, Broder has chosen his alter-ego moniker well. Fog’s self-titled debut album is as dense and hard to navigate as its namesake.?

And this works to his advantage. After years of scratch DJs giving commencement addresses with their hands, here — finally — is a willfully inarticulate turntable album. Broder may scribble and scrape his vinyl collection, but the party he’s rocking is the one in his mind — one in which early Sebadoh and recent Radiohead have somehow become hip-hop touchstones.?

Like England’s Hood, or the radical indie-hoppers in the Anticon collective, Fog creates brooding, lo-fi textures spanning the densely monolithic (“Smell of Failure”) to scrappy post-emo rock (“Fool”). Sometimes Broder caterwauls like Lou Barlow after shock treatment, but he’s far more articulate with other people’s words and sounds: “Now that you’ve heard that, you understand what I’m saying to you when I say that I don’t understand him,” a woman mutters in one sound bite. And that says it all, really — whatever it is, exactly.