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Unboxing the Los Angeles Free Music Society’s new 13-LP collection—a Dangerous Minds premiere


Members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society, 1976 (photo courtesy of The Box LA and Fredrik Nilsen Studio)
 
In 2012, the Los Angeles Free Music Society celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding, and the LA gallery The Box marked the occasion with the exhibition “Beneath the Valley of the Lowest Form of Music.” Now, under the auspices of Box Editions, a selection from every performance that took place during the run of the show has been painstakingly mastered, pressed on an LP side, and collected in the handsome seven-hour, thirteen-disc set LAFMS BOX BOX

If you’re new to the work of the LAFMS, their music is “free” in every sense. Free in terms of improvisational structure, free expression, and free association; free from generic restrictions, free from inhibitions, free as in liberated, free to come and go, free time, guilt-free, and even free of charge (“The music is free, but you have to pay for the plastic, paper, ink, glue and stamps,” as they say). Perhaps no group of musicians has ever been a better candidate for one of those “family tree” posters head shops used to sell. Not only does the LAFMS comprise a number of interrelated groups, ad hoc configurations of members, and solo excursions—Le Forte Four, the Doo-Dooettes, AIRWAY, Human Hands, Bpeople, Dinosaurs With Horns, and Solid Eye are some of the bands that populate the LAFMS’s alternate-universe Los Angeles, the one that is actually familiar to people who live here—but the society is also a nexus of the whole American underground of a certain period. Over the years the Residents, Captain Beefheart, Half Japanese, Wild Man Fischer, Mayo Thompson, the Meat Puppets, NON, Phranc, Christian Death, and 45 Grave have all contributed in some way to the massive LAFMS oeuvre. And Smegma originated as part of the LAFMS. And Michael Gira was the original singer of the band that became Bpeople. And founding member Dennis Duck is also the drummer in the Dream Syndicate. And artists Mike Kelley (to whose memory LAFMS BOX BOX is dedicated) and Jim Shaw of Destroy All Monsters have played in LAFMS bands and appear on this very set. You get the idea.

The thirteen LPs break down like this. Sides A and B: Opening Reception Improvisation (Dennis Duck, John Duncan, Ace Farren Ford, Joseph Hammer, Mike Kelley, Fredrik Nilsen, Joe Potts, Rick Potts, Tom Recchion, Vetza); Side C: Artificial Art Ensemble; Side D: The Tenses; Side E: Tom Recchion; Side F: The Doo-Dooettes; Side G: Le Forte Four; Side H: Smegma; Side I: AIRWAY; Side J: Ace & Duck / Artificial Art Ensemble; Side K: Dinosaurs With Horns; Side L: Vetza & Joe Potts; Side M: Dolphin Explosion; Side N: F For Ache; Side O: Eddie Ruscha, Jim Shaw, Dani Tull; Side P: Extended Organ; Side Q: Feedback Waveriders; Side R: Artzenkraft; Side S: Small Drone Orchestra; Side T: Albert Ortega; Side U: Points Of Friction; Side V: Rick Potts; Side W: The Jrks; Side X: Joe & Joe; Side Y: Oolies; Side Z: Rahdunes.
 

LAFMS BOX BOX and some of its innards (photo courtesy of The Box LA and Fredrik Nilsen Studio)
 
We at DM are happier than a handkerchief at a snot party to premiere three videos that reveal this new box set in all its variegated and sensuous glory. In the first very special clip, members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society join the Pillsbury Doughboy in marveling at the box’s contents. Next comes a very, very special look at LAFMS BOX BOX with Corazon del Sol, pitched especially to members of the ASMR community—you know, those lucky few whisper fetishists chosen by natural selection for no-mess skin orgasms. And finally, there is a very, very, very special video in which the artist Paul McCarthy, who is a member of the LAFMS group Extended Organ, spends over an hour counting every countable item in the box.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour episode 11: Xmas Chaos with guest host Rick Potts

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Hey kids, it’s a special Xmas edition of the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour with guest host Rick Potts ! One of the founding members of the Los Angeles Free Music Society, Rick and his cohorts have been making and collecting weird records since the early 70’s and mining a specifically suburban vein of audio surrealism delightfully apparent in this radio special. Mele Kalikimaka !
 
Rick sez: “The Winter Holidays can be stressful and downright annoying. It can get you down but an alternative to Grinch-ness & Scrooge-osity is to revel in the oddness, absurdity and surrealism of Christmas-time. Ka-Bella-Binsky-Bungo!”
 
01. Christmas Night In Harlem - Raymond Scott - Microphone Music
02. The Chipmonk Song - The Three Suns - A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas
03. Who Says There Ain’t No Santa Claus - Barbara Cook & Jerome Courtland - Flahooley , Original Cast Recording
04. Christmas - Joseph Byrd - Christmas Yet To Come
05. White Christmas - The Wailers - Destiny: Rare Ska Sides from Studio One
06. Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas) - The Free Design - Stars / Time / Bubbles / Love
07. Mele Kalikimaka - Arthur Lyman - Mele Kalikimaka
08. Ding Dong Christmastime - Rick Potts/Christmas Sound Effects - LAFMS Lightbulb Vol. 3 Christmas Cassette
09. Frosty the Red-nosed Ghost - Conniff Singers/Voices of Walter Schumann/Rick Potts - Follow the Raindeer
10. Santa Claus Goes Modern - Rod Rodgers & The Librettos - The Breakdown of Human Absurdity
11. The Parade Of The Tin Soldiers - Sound In Brass Handbells - Ringing Clear, The Art Of Handbell Ringing
12. Bells Are Ringing - Moondog - Moondog 2
13. The Toy Trumpet (2 Versions) - George Wright/Eddie Dunstedter -Merry Christmas/Mr. Pipe Organ
14. The Stupendous Holiday Finksten - The Human Lard Dog And The Band Of Shy - The Fat Assed Freak is Coming To Town
15. Sleigh Ride - Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Sym. Orc. - The Typewriter, Leroy Anderson Favorites
16. Santa Claus On A Helicopter - Wing - Santa Claus On A Helicopter
17. You, Too, Can Be A Puppet - Puppet Singers - Flahooley, Original Cast Recording
 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at Alterati
 

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Los Angeles Free Music Society invades London next week
10.14.2010
03:33 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Music

Tags:
LAFMS

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Attention UK Dangerous Minds readers! A possibly once in a lifetime occurrence; a festival dedicated to and featuring nearly all original and main participants in the legendary LAFMS will happen the weekend after next in London. There’ll be tape loops and homemade instruments and creaky old synths by the barrel-full, even a couple of workshops ! So nice to see these DIY warriors get their due, international style.
 

 
More LAFMS after the jump…

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
LAFMS videos by Jonathon Rosen
05.14.2010
04:22 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Music

Tags:
LAFMS
Jonathan Rosen

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Excellent videos for LAFMS stalwarts The Doo-Dooettes, Tom Recchion and David Toop by NYC artist Jonathon Rosen.

These videos evolved out of the copious material that was generated for live performances with the great musician/composer Tom Recchion. Working as a live mix video-instrumentalist with music as evocatively visual as this, was (and is) for me, a matter of letting the video elements self-assemble themselves. In other words, rather than force a narrative, as much as possible I strive to be a conduit - using the sound as my guide, and let the visuals tell me what they want to be.

 
Doo-Dooettes, Loop Rendered (excerpt).
Music by the Doo-Dooettes from the CD Think Space on Organ of Corti.
Remixed and reconfigured by Tom Recchion.
Video animation & editing: Jonathon Rosen.
 

Apartment Thunder.
Music from David Toop’s CD Black Chamber (Sub Rosa).
Musicians: David Toop, Tom Recchion.
Animation / Editing / Direction: Jonathon Rosen

 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Darker Skratcher: The Essential document of the Los Angeles Free Music Society
01.08.2010
07:44 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
LAFMS
Darker Skratcher

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I bought my copy of Darker Skratcher at the Wherehouse records franchise in the Panorama City mall in 1980. It was in the “punk” section and sure enough it had a cut on it by 45 Grave that I had heard on Rodney on the Roq a few times and which I’m sure was the reason I bought it. The remainder of the tracks were a glimpse into a mysterious suburban/subterranean music scene that became a huge influence on myself and all of my friends. It was a musical approach that could incorporate free improvisation, musique concrete, obscure pop culture references and pure noise into its “punk”. Sounded like home to me. Each of the groups on Darker Skratcher warrant their own posts, so I’ll refrain from the details for now and defer to the sage Mr. Lumbleau over at Mutant Sounds :

A seminal artifact of the L.A. Free Music Society’s salad days and one that, unlike most extant L.A.F.M.S. compilations, spends most of it’s time highlighting the less well recognized quirk pop perfection dimension of the L.A.F.M.S.’ collective praxis; to wit, it’s a compendium essential enough for me to be willing to bear the karmic burden of sharing a recording containing work by a certain Boyd Rice*. All that aside though, what self respecting freaky fringe music acolyte could be without this watershed document? From The Rick Potts Band’s suavely ludicrous bontempi pop to BPeople’s angular art fracture and from 45 Grave’s delightfully dejected sounding novelty song kitsch to Human Hands’ ferocious post punk juggernaut (one of their finest moments ever), it’s a testament to the sundry modes of ass-backward brilliance collectively deployed by this genre disrupting (and genre defining) art geek mafia.

*fwiw I share his misgivings about Mr Rice, but this track (the opening cut from DS) is just too great not to post.

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
Airway To Fly Into NYC

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Once again, time for another guest post from Dangerous Minds pal, main Medicine man, and one of my dear childhood friends, Mr. Brad Laner:

Airway, the “noise orchestra” led by Joe Potts are one of the original mainstay bands of the fabled Los Angeles Free Music Society.  Issuing a string of self-released and very homemade-feeling LPs which had a broad effect upon the world of experimental music, the LAFMS emerged out of the suburban haze of California’s San Gabriel Valley in the mid-‘70’s.

Being huge influences on the likes of Nurse With Wound, Keiji Haino (who evidently traveled to L.A. in the early ‘80’s with the sole purpose of finding and playing with Airway) and, most certainly, yours truly (plus, really, anybody who’s made improvisational noise music since the mid-‘70’s), it’s a bit amazing to report that Airway will be making their first ever appearance outside of L.A. this month as part of a nice-sounding hoedown called A FANTASTIC WORLD SUPERIMPOSED ON REALITY: A SELECT HISTORY OF EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC, a “Mini-Festival to Present an Exciting Line-Up of Key Musicians and Artists Who Developed the Dynamic Trajectory of Experimental Noise Music.”

The whole thing is curated by artist Mike Kelly, who will also be performing with LAFMS/Airway alumni Tom Recchion, Fredrik Nilsen, Joe Potts and visionary genius Paul McCarthy as Extended Organ (see them below playing at L.A.‘s Schindler House).

 
Bonus amusement: Attention, Joe Potts!  Some punk kids have stolen your rad, emo-ready band name.  Time to lawyer up!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment