The Los Angeles Free Music Society had its earliest roots in 1972, attracting, almost by act of nature, like-minded audio hooligans who huddled around Tom Recchion's esoteric musical recommendations at the Poo-Bah record store in Pasadena. Not just content to sit around a listen to weird records, the LAFMS generally sought out to blur the lines of highbrow Euro-informed avant classicism, dada-rock ala Beefheart, humor-laced psychedelic jammage, and a million more influences. They did it in a very home-styled manner, held guerilla performances, took over parades and art spaces, and documented countless hours of their interactions on tape and the odd LP. Groups like the Doo-Dooettes, Le Forte Four, Solid Eye, and Extended Organ held court at the nucleus, while interactions with many in their orbit led to early documentations of free-blowing stalwarts like the still-viable Smegma, and to lesser extent notables like Monitor, and even Christian Death and 45 Grave wound up encoded in LAFMS documents. It wasn't until the 1990's that a 10CD box set on the Cortical label, and a 4CD anthology of the open-contribution-based Blorp Essette appeared to try to encapsulate things, inevitably only scratching the surface of the LAFMS saga. So when Mike Kelley's curated two-night noisefest landed at Performa's monthlong NYC event, and brought a slew of LAFMS alumni to town, I jumped on the opportunity to have them down to WFMU to decode the long and mysterious history of the collective.
Joe Potts, Rick Potts (pictured right at WFMU), Vetza Trussell, Tom Recchion, Fredrik Nilsen, and Dennis Duck all stopped by my show for a 3-hour retrospective on LAFMS which aired December 1st and is archived here, a huge thrill indeed that was only enhanced by them moving into the live performance room here and plugging in for the first ever studio performance of Airway. Airway started off as an offshoot of Joe Potts' Le Forte Four, mainly as a vehicle for him to issue forth electronic subliminal messages during a gallery showing, eventually growing into a full-on noise rock unit documented on the 1978 Live at LACE LP (available for download on the Free Music Archive). The performance and general awareness of the LAFMS gang led to some serious seeds being planted in Japan and the direct foundation of the insane noise scene that developed in the '80's via the Hanatarash, Hijokaidan, and Incapacitants (whom I posted a video a couple weeks back of here). The daring (and at the time unheard-of) DIY nature of the LAFMS still reverberates today in Wolf Eyes, Ultra Eczema's scene, Sonic Youth (where Recchion had a brief membership) and others (to quote Roland Woodbe on Siltblog: "this was the ground zero of knob-turning, brain scrambling twiddle-zorp, the nascent dawn of Suitcase Rock.") Today, members are still fairly active. Rick Potts, in fact, brought Solid Eye to WFMU when we were just settling into our Jersey City digs, the studio wasn't finished yet so they played in the supply closet.
Thanks to the LAFMS, Danny Gromfin, and engineer Mark Triant for the help (and Mike Kelley and Performa for bringing the group to New York!), enjoy 20+ minutes of Airway live at WFMU, and again, check out the show's archive to hear interviews with all, plus a time-spanning assortment of LAFMS nuggets playlisted.