Review- GARY PANTER (Box Set)

L.A.F.M.S. boxset

The Los Angeles Free Music Society box set, entitled: THE LOWEST FORM OF MUSIC is not little, nor skimping. This is a real jumbo momma of improvisational free music movement boxes. I am on disc seven out of ten and it has been a pleasure, phrase by phrase, joke by anti-trope, loop by loop, optigon by chipped bitten reed.

In the late Seventies, clues that there was something about to happen appeared in the form of a million or a few photocopied flyers with messy collages and scrawled text–demented invitations to unknown destinations. What would you find there? In LA I saw flyers on poles and music store windows (at first only the Motels and the Dogs) and finally found SLASH magazine one night at  the Cahuenga newstand.  Shortly there was an explosion of flyers and the musical antics they promised. Most of the shows were similarly conceived and chorded– sped up rock and roll, punk rock, but there were also weirder musical happenings mingled with the speed rock and that was VERY interesting as well. There were hundreds of shows. Saw NON clear a room in a bombed out downtown LA construction site. People ran away screaming and laughing. The guitar mounted electric fan gnawing the strings and piped through giant amplifiers was TOO much, but well worth leaving the house.

In that distant century, a decade earlier, even, a lot of people (especially in the sticks) found their way to experimental music by way of the gatefold list on the album FREAK OUT, by the MOTHERS OF INVENTION, released in 1966–a cultural pandemic, that swept the ocean. A list I could never hope to decode but for little parts I recognized or items that I weaseled a way to get in hand. Nowadays the whole list  is broken down for you on wikipedia and I am going through it item by item at last. You are so lucky. That record hipped me to  Stockhausen, Varese, Charles Ives, Stravinsky and Harry Partch for starters. Stuff young people need to find. That especially includes the music and wit of FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION themselves. Especially these twelve albums:

1. Freak Out

2. Absolutely Free

3.Lumpy Gravy

4. Uncle Meat

5.Hot Rats

6. Ruben and the Jets

7. Live at the Filmore

8.We’re Only In It For the Money

9.The Grand Wazoo

10. Weasels Ripped My Flesh

11 Chunga’s Revenge

12. 200 Motels

Digest these and then you can decide if you want more Zappa or not. Ideally you would be buying vinyl. Note the cover art by Cal Schenkel, Neon Park, Marvin Mattleson and Frank Zappa.

The guys in the LAFMS must’ve been guys that followed the leads on that list, guys like me, with the difference that they made lots and lots of music. Inquistive smartie nerds determined to forge their own SONIC WORLD. What a shipwreck and coral reef they created! I can’t explain this box set to you–it is a bunch of young people, back in the 20th century, on separate and converging teams, making experimental music before there were laptops. Before Nurse With Wound. How did they do it? They performed it live on standard, modified and home-made instruments; they dragged their fingers on long loops of mis-threaded recording  tape and mis-tuned radios to make real-time collage; recorded concrete sounds in the studio and field recordings in the field; they twisted the knobs of sine wave and square wave generators. They talked they sang. Then they took that stuff and cut it up and respliced it and filtered and mixed and drug it around the block behind the car and I haven’t heard a bad track yet. The DooDooettes are closing disc seven with impressive human-powered stuff and I am going to go get disc eight right now out of the clear vinyl accordion cd sleeve which remind me of the way records were displayed at VINYL FETISH. If it sucks, I’ll let you know.

Next day. No it was great. Disc eight was by Rick Potts. Delightfully screwy. Disc nine is on now–Tom Recchion rocking the boat with grace and confidence.

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