THE BOX presents
SATURDAY JANUARY 28, 2011 12-7PM
LOS ANGELES FREE MUSIC SOCIETY PERFORMANCES
805 Traction Ave. Los Angeles CA 90013
ARTIFICIAL ART ENSEMBLE
LE FORTE FOUR
This performance is part of the exhibition LAFMS: Beyond the Valley of the Lowest Form of Music at The Box’s new location in the Arts District, near Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.
The foundation of the Los Angeles Free Music Society goes back to 1973 when Rick Potts, Joe Potts, and Chip Chapman˜began making tape experiments and improvised music mixed from TV cartoons and material appropriated from Chapman‚s eccentric record collection. A year later, with Tom Potts and Susan Farthing-Chapman they formed Le Forte Four In Pasadena they became acquainted with Tom Recchion who worked at Poo-Bah Records and kept locals informed of new experimental and avant-garde records. Concurrently at Poo-Bah‚s, late night improvised music experiments were taking place in the back room, with Tom and customers-now friends Dennis Duck, the Ace of Space, The Professor, Fredrik Nilsen, Juan Gomez and Harold Schroeder. Out of those sessions Tom and Harold formed The Two Who Do Duets, and went on to form the Doo-Dooettes with the inclusion of Fredrik, Juan and Dennis. It was only a short while later that the factions joined forces under the LAFMS moniker when it became obvious that there was a symbiosis to their approach and aesthetics, as well as strength in numbers. Ace Farren Ford, also affiliated with Poo-Bah, was part of Ace and Duce, also joined the ranks and the first LAFMS concert was produced in 1975 featuring Le Forte Four, the Doo-Dooettes and Ace and Duce, billed as The Los Angeles Free Music Society. Members of the avant-rock group Smegma, who had already been in existence since 1973, also developed out of and beyond the Poo-Bah Records scene before moving to Portland, Oregon in 1975. John Duncan, another Poo-Bah customer and subsequent acquaintance of Tom‚s became part of the collective, releasing several of his earliest recordings as part of the LAFMS canon. AIRWAY , Joe Potts‚s project and one of the first „noise‰ bands, emerged spurring on the development of „noise as art‰ aesthetic, becoming a global influential force and the idea of „maxmimalism.‰ Influenced by everything from Zappa/Beefheart to Cage, Terry Riley and One String Sam, they were ahead of the curve and their DIY aesthetic presaged Punk Rock, releasing their own efforts and self-produced concerts.
This was only the beginning. As years went on many groups and affiliations began to spring up and each member of the LAFMS began to emerge as solo artist in both visual arts and musical fields as well as collaborate and join other groups.
LAFMS‚s work and performances have been pivotal figures in L.A.‚s history of experimental art and sound and have had a global impact with international recognition. They are not simply a NOISE group, but embrace all forms of music and have demonstrated an adept capacity for tonal, improvised music, sound art, rock, musique-concrete, „turntablism‰, humor, drone, minimalism, etc.
Since 1975, the LAFMS has released over 25 recordings on their own label and participants have released or have appeared on hundreds of releases from labels around the world. A merchandise store with some of these releases will operate throughout the exhibition, where visitors can find in-print and rare out-of-print items available for purchase including a new 2012 edition of „Lightbulb‰, an occasional magazine published between 1977˜1981 by the LAFMS.
Airway were part of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), a group of extremely radical experimental music anarchists in the mid-’70s. Even more radical was Airway’s focus on live performance with the use of subliminal-message tapes in the background, used to persuade the audience in different ways. Joe Potts, from the LAFMS group Le Forte Four, put out a single, “Airway,” in the spring of 1977, which was given away at an art exhibit at the Lunami Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. The single and its sleeve design had subliminal messages that reinforced the subliminals embedded in the autopsy photos of the show. The following year Potts decided to try to re-create the subliminal message beneath a Wall of Sound from that single in a live context, using a primitive tape delay and processing system he invented with Chip Chapman, also from Le Forte Four. Airway’s first performance took place in August 1978 at the Lace Gallery, with Potts and Chapman working the circuits, and Vetza on vocals, Rick Potts on mandolin, and Doo-Dooettes’ members Dennis Duck on sax, Juan Gomez on bass, and Tom Recchion on drums. The sheer noise of the music fed through the electronics and backed by Potts’ subliminal tapes soon drove people out of the gallery, where they continued to listen from a safe distance on the street three floors below. Excerpts of that show were released later that year by LAFMS on the LP Live at Lace. Airway returned to the Lace on October 31, 1978, and also played a handful of other gigs that year and the next, with many different lineups as well as different subliminal tapes from Joe Potts. At each performance the tapes manipulated the audience, to move closer to the group, or away, or in other ways, depending on Potts’ intentions. Eventually, Potts went on to other projects and Airway fell by the wayside at the end of the 1970s. Airway was resurrected for a performance at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on February 14, 1998, with a cast of 18 musicians, who included many former Airway members and others.
A solid backbeat was applied in the late ’70s to the free-form improvisations of Los Angeles-based noise/experimental group the Doo-Dooettes. Their improvised music provided the soundtrack for a film, Think Space, about the Viking space-age pop of 1975, while their 1978 single, “Picnic on a Frozen River,” a cover of a tune by German experimental rock band Faust, has been described as one of rock’s greatest lost singles. According to Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, the “unearthing of this recording is experimental rock history at its most historical and hysterical — a completely bizarre and further-out counterpart to the L. A. punk scene.” Their 1982 debut album, Free Rock, featured one lengthy improvisation, “Blueprint for the Shimmering Quivers of the Deep Purple Ultraviolent Tuning Fork.”
The origins of the the Doo-Dooettes trace back to a duo, the Two Who Do Duets, formed in March 1975 by electronic keyboardists Tom Recchion and Harold Schroeder. Expanded with the addition of Juan Gomez, the group was re-christened the Doo-Dooettes. Although they continued to grow, adding bassist Fredrick Nilsen and drummer Dennis Duck, their inability to break through commercially resulted in the loss of Schroeder, who relocated to Santa Monica. By the time they performed their final concert in the spring of 1984, they had been reduced to a duo featuring Recchion and Nilsen.
The Doo-Dooettes were founding members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), a collective of experimental musicians that they formed with Le Forte Four. Their performance at an LAFMS concert shared with Le Forte Four at the Brand Liberty Recital Hall on July 8, 1976, was recorded and released on the album Live at the Brand.
“Ju Suk Reet Meate and Jackie Oblivia are The Tenses. Ju Suk and Jackie performed an amazing set using turntables, tapes, a strange guitar and coronet. As great as the performance was, the ensuing chat about the origins of Smegma, the Portland Punk scene of the late-70’s, Wild Man Fischer, and Ju Suk’s first concert experience (Captain Beefheart) made the night truly special. Check out the archive and get weird!”
Smegma’s roots lie in the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) scene of the mid-’70s, and yet this long-running avant-rock collective are one of the few groups from that era that are still active today. With the musicians hidden behind ridiculous pseudonyms, Smegma offered a strange psychedelic improvisational music, throwing in all sorts of odd instruments as well as tapes, and turntables. The group began in Pasadena, CA in 1973 as a reaction to the bloated fusion rock of the day. They were unaware that other nearby groups had also formed to perform similar free-form experimental music. They became part of a gang of similar noise artists who gathered almost nightly in the backroom of the Poo-Bah record store in Pasadena, which in 1975 merged with the LAFMS. Smegma have always been a loosely run collective, and early members included Amy Zonbambi, Chucko D.K. Fatts, Ju Suk Reet Meate, Dennis Duck, Cheez It-Ritz, Cheese-Bro, Dr. Id, Dr. Odd, and Reed Burn. Ace Ford Farren, who joined the group in early 1974, introduced Smegma to crazed street performer and Zappa protégé Wild Man Fisher, and in two sessions, one on New Years Day of 1975 and one a few months later, they recorded some tracks with Fisher on vocals. Smegma moved to Portland, OR by the end of 1975 but remained in touch with the rest of the LAFMS crowd. After appearing on various LAFMS compilations, their first LP, Glamour Girl 1941/Five Years Wasted was recorded and produced in their own studio in July 1978 and released by LAFMS the following year. They also released several 7″ singles that same year on their own Pigface label. The next year found them sharing a 7″ with industrial pioneer Non (Boyd Rice), released by Mute. Throughout the ’80s Smegma kept a low profile and continued to put out LPs, singles, and cassettes on their own label, and occasionally gigged live. With their worldwide reputation firmly cemented, their LP Nattering Naybobs of Negativity was released by the U.K. label Dead Mans Curve and the LP Smell the Remains by the German label Dom. More albums came out in the mid-’90s on the Portland label Tim/Kerr, including the LP Smegma Plays Merzbow/Merzbow Plays Smegma with Japanese noise artist Merzbow. In the late ’90s, rock & roll author Richard Meltzer became their vocalist, adding his verbal ramblings and sardonic wit to their improvised sound.
LE FORTE FOUR
Le Forte Four were the earliest group in the collective of avant-garde music anarchists known as the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS). With their music combining loose experimental improvisation on both conventional instruments and household items with stuff taped off television cartoons or taken from records as well as lo-fi electronics, Le Forte Four were pioneers of sampling, even as their D.I.Y. ethic paved the way for the punk movement a few years later. In the summer of 1973, Chip Chapman, along with two brothers, Rick and Joe Potts, formed the Patients and recorded some material in the Potts family living room, which mostly consisted of the group arguing as they rehearsed Zappa’s “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama,” and the Who’s “Boris the Spider.” A few months later, much to the chagrin of the other members, Chapman sent an excerpt of this to the Norway Electronic Music Festival under the name East Los Angeles Free Music Society.
In 1974, the group adopted the name Los Angeles Free Music Society as they worked on their first album, but by 1975 they had become Le Forte Four with the addition of another Potts brother, Tom Potts, and LAFMS was used for the name of their label. That first LP, Bikini Tennis Shoes was released later that year. Through the record, Le Forte Four were discovered by another group of avant-garde noise-makers who hung out regularly at the Poo-Bah Record Shop in Pasadena, and soon the whole LAFMS scene took off as the various artists inspired each other. By early 1976, Le Forte Four gigged regularly with other LAFMS artists like the Doo-Dooettes and Ace & Duce. One of those concerts, from July of 1976 at the recital hall of the Brand Library, was released as the LP Live at the Brand later that year. A third record, Spin ‘n’ Grin, was released in 1981, offering a retrospective of earlier material. By that time Le Forte Four’s members had moved on to related LAFMS projects and Le Forte Four were dissolved.