Los Angeles Free Music Society

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Los Angeles Free Music Society (Airway) performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) has been, since the early 1970s, the banner heading of a loose collective of experimental musicians in Los Angeles, California who were joined by an aesthetic based around radicalism and playfulness. Key players have included Joe Potts, Tom Recchion, Joseph Hammer, John Duncan, Dennis Duck, Juan Gomez, Kevin Laffey, Chip Chapman, Fredrik Nilsen, Jerry Bishop, Ace Farren Ford, Ju Suk Reet Meate, and Rick Potts.

Notable band configurations have included Le Forte Four, Smegma (who relocated to Portland, OR in the late 1970s), Solid Eye, Airway, Monique Experience, Foundation Boo, Extended Organ, and The Doo-Dooettes. Their influence is seen most immediately in other Pacific-coast "isolationist" experimentalists like Caroliner Rainbow, Sun City Girls, and The Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, as well as Japanese noise projects like Hanatarash, Hijokaidan, and Incapacitants.

A ten-CD retrospective titled The Lowest Form of Music, comprising 1970s recordings made under the LAFMS banner, was released by the Cortical Foundation and RRRecords in 1996. An artist's edition of 350 copies was made that contained an 11th disc.

The LAFMS was the focus of a three-day weekend festival in London, October 22-24, 2010, that included performances, talks, workshops, films/videos, installations and artworks. LAFMS groups that performed over the weekend included Airway, Smegma, John Duncan, Extended Organ (with David Toop sitting in), Tom Recchion, Le Forte Four, The Tenses, and Dinosaurs With Horns, with special guest performances by Hijokaidan, Incapacitants, Morphogenesis, Mark Durgan with Spoils & Relics, Raionbashi & Kutzkelina, and Bill Kouligas + Joseph Hammer. David Toop and Edwin Pouncey (aka Savage Pencil) lead panel discussions and Rick Potts and Vetza lead workshops.

In 2012 The Box, a downtown Los Angeles art gallery, ran a six week exhibition celebrating the 40th anniversary of the LAFMS. Entitled "Beneath the Valley of the Lowest Form of Music: The Los Angeles Free Music Society ‘1972-2012,’" the exhibit showcased nearly 40 years of LAFMS artwork, self-made musical instruments, recordings, ephemera, film/video, and installations, and included a schedule of live performances and artist’s talks.

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