See also: États-Unis titles
Superior Viaduct off-shoot, Etats-Unis, does a deep dive on Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) history with these reissues of five of its key texts. As individual pieces, there's more than enough to take in, but taken as a whole... well, it's near-vertiginous. LAFMS was born during the pre-punk 70s, with Fluxus ideals at its heart, but with a precognitive predilection for DIY self-production and notions of shared community & resources that seemed to pre-empt some of punk's core ideological values as well as various examples of its practical application. Ideas through the post, multi-disciplinary expression, communal resources, de-centralised production and distribution - if a lot of that is recognisable, the sounds being made were anything but. Given that it's basically impossible in the space afforded here to discuss all five of these records at once, its at least part way instructive to look at LAFMS on a more general level - this is art as music as free expression, drawing on the radical postmodern precepts of the then avant garde, where function, form, content and structure could be entirely divorced from one another, or instead united in discomfiting disharmony, There's roots in jazz, progressive rock, early tape/electronic music, sound art and related disciplines, but it's the attitude of self-reliance that lends these records their defining alien quality, while it's also not insignificant that the organisation was founded by teenagers - i guess free music is a lot easier to embrace as an idea when you've not already been indoctrinated by convention. Sure enough, you've not heard teenage rebellion quite like this before. So much to take in on those compilations, and the Le Forte Four side of the Live record is like The Residents without the Nazi fart jokes, but it's the Smegma debut LP that really took my head off - true music without centre. No direction home when you're seemingly from another plain of existence entirely. Funny, in its way, to have to look back on music that only strived to fall forwards ever more.