Smell the Remains
The Mad Excitement, The Barbaric Pulsations, The Incomparable Rhythms of....
Smegma's roots lie in the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) scene of the mid-'70s, and yet this long-running avant-rock collective are one of the few groups from that era that are still active today. With the musicians hidden behind ridiculous pseudonyms, Smegma offered a strange psychedelic improvisational music, throwing in all sorts of odd instruments as well as tapes, and turntables. The group began in Pasadena, CA in 1973 as a reaction to the bloated fusion rock of the day. They were unaware that other nearby groups had also formed to perform similar free-form experimental music. They became part of a gang of similar noise artists who gathered almost nightly in the backroom of the Poo-Bah record store in Pasadena, which in 1975 merged with the LAFMS. Smegma have always been a loosely run collective, and early members included Amy Zonbambi, Chucko D.K. Fatts, Ju Suk Reet Meate, Dennis Duck, Cheez It-Ritz, Cheese-Bro, Dr. Id, Dr. Odd, and Reed Burn. Ace Ford Farren, who joined the group in early 1974, introduced Smegma to crazed street performer and Zappa protégé Wild Man Fisher, and in two sessions, one on New Years Day of 1975 and one a few months later, they recorded some tracks with Fisher on vocals. Smegma moved to Portland, OR by the end of 1975 but remained in touch with the rest of the LAFMS crowd. After appearing on various LAFMS compilations, their first LP, Glamour Girl 1941/Five Years Wasted was recorded and produced in their own studio in July 1978 and released by LAFMS the following year. They also released several 7" singles that same year on their own Pigface label. The next year found them sharing a 7" with industrial pioneer Non (Boyd Rice), released by Mute. Throughout the '80s Smegma kept a low profile and continued to put out LPs, singles, and cassettes on their own label, and occasionally gigged live. With their worldwide reputation firmly cemented, their LP Nattering Naybobs of Negativity was released by the U.K. label Dead Mans Curve and the LP Smell the Remains by the German label Dom. More albums came out in the mid-'90s on the Portland label Tim/Kerr, including the LP Smegma Plays Merzbow/Merzbow Plays Smegma with Japanese noise artist Merzbow. In the late '90s, rock & roll author Richard Meltzer became their vocalist, adding his verbal ramblings and sardonic wit to their improvised sound.read more