Rick Potts | Lampo | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Rick Potts All Ages Critic's Choice Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Jan. 24, 9 p.m. 2009

Los Angeles experimental musician Rick Potts is a rare bird. Staunchly esoteric and insatiably curious, he’s been on the cultural fringes for more than 35 years—and the almost complete absence of mainstream respect for his work hasn’t eroded his commitment to his bizarre sound world one bit. His history properly begins in the early 70s, when he cofounded the Los Angeles Free Music Society, a collective that briefly attempted art-rock before plunging into unknown seas, combining influences like Harry Partch, Frank Zappa, and Sun Ra with ethnographic recordings and musique concrete and whipping it all into a wild froth. (Few other members of the LAFMS are still active, but Oregon weird beards Smegma played here in 2006.) The Lowest Form of Music, a ten-CD LAFMS box set released in 1997, is simultaneously discordant, discombobulated, and irritating—and it’d be futile to try to generalize any further. Potts is a multi-­instrumentalist and inveterate tinkerer—he’s worked with everything from musical saws to low-rent electronics and devised what he calls a “hinge-neck guitar”—and his body of work, under his own name and in projects like Le Forte Four, Airway, and Dinosaurs With Horns, is as diverse and uncategorizable as the collective’s. For his belated Chicago debut he’ll perform Carousel of Progress, a dense collage named after the Disney World attraction built for the GE pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, which mixes calliope samples, saw, synthesizer, and electric mandolin into a counterintuitive symphony that constantly frustrates its own emergent narrative. I haven’t heard the other piece on the program, Kasper, which mixes chopped-up percussion and synth with vocals from thrift-store records. —Peter Margasak

Price: $12

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