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SMEGMA

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Smegma biography
Smegma was started in 1973 in Pasadena, California by Ju Suk Reet Meate, Cheese It Ritz, Chucko Fats, Dennis Duck, Amazon Bambi, Cheesebro and joined in 1974 by Ace For Ferren who introduced them to Wild Man Fischer. They went on to record tracks on New Years Day 1975 with Fischer on vocals. Originally, they mostly jammed and recorded at various households of members before playing on shows such as the Jerry Louis Telethon and Dr. Id's The Terminal Timewarp. The band continued playing shows for 5 years with bands like The Wipers, The Neo Boys, and The Dead Kennedys. In 1979, they released their debut album entitled "Glamour Girl 1941/Five Years Wasted" which also featured Danton Dodge and Frank Chavez

The band kept a low profile in the 1980's, continuing to release albums through their own label while playing live on occasion. In 1988, with a reputation of delivering quality music, they released "Nattering Naybobs of Negativity" on the UK label Dead Mans Curve and in 1990 they were joined by rock and roll author Richard Maltzer to the lineup. Smegma's sound was reactionary to the time. It was largely psychedelic and improvised while utilizing odd instruments and sounds. Their sound is instantly recognizable and are recommended to fans of noise, avant-jazz or any sort of chaotic music.

==Evolutionary Sleeper==

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Buy SMEGMA Music


IsmIsm
Tim Kerr Records 1994
Audio CD$8.49
$2.02 (used)
Mad Excitement the Barbaric PulsationsMad Excitement the Barbaric Pulsations
Tim Kerr Records 1996
Audio CD$3.99
$0.99 (used)
33 1/333 1/3
Important Records 2007
Audio CD$3.80
$0.85 (used)
Mirage (Dig)Mirage (Dig)
IMPORTANT RECORDS 2010
Audio CD$9.79
$8.41 (used)
Gehalt, Hab Und Gut (Diskografie)Gehalt, Hab Und Gut (Diskografie)
True Rebel Records 2009
Audio CD$13.96
$22.57 (used)
Nattering Naybobs of NegativityNattering Naybobs of Negativity
Limited Edition · Extra tracks
Harbinger Sound
Audio CD$36.97
$13.98 (used)
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SMEGMA shows & tickets


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SMEGMA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SMEGMA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 5 ratings
Glamour Girl 1941
1979
2.10 | 2 ratings
Pigs for Lepers
1982
3.05 | 2 ratings
Smell the Remains
1987
2.10 | 2 ratings
Nattering Naybobs of Negativity
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
ISM
1993
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Mad Excitement, the Barbaric Pulsations, The Incomparable Rhythms Of...
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tiromancy
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mirage
2010

SMEGMA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SMEGMA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SMEGMA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SMEGMA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

SMEGMA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nattering Naybobs of Negativity by SMEGMA album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.10 | 2 ratings

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Nattering Naybobs of Negativity
Smegma RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Smegma remind me a lot of Cerberus Shoal, not in their musical style of course, but in the way they make every studio release an adventure in experimentation. Neither band seems to be afraid to strike out, and both of them occasionally do. This is one of those misses as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll give the band credit for stretching themselves at least.

The band starts the record pretty much where they left off with their 1987 effort ‘Smell the Remains’ delivering “Pile”, an experimental-noise effort with plenty of discordant arrangements and dissonant brass. “Happy Baby Rhumba” mixes recorded and distorted ‘goo-goo’ baby sounds with outputs from various electronic gadgetry, while “Spring Flowers” does pretty much the same thing but replaces the baby with string sounds (from an electronic organ, I believe). Nothing really all that new so far, at least as far as this band is concerned.

Things get more interesting as the album moves along though, including a heavily fuzzed and distorted guitar/percussion number (“Freakish High”) that borders on ska punk at times without quite getting there. It’s like I expect Camper Van Beethoven to break out any second, but they never do….

“Limp Dynamics” sounds like something the Dead Kennedys had a hand in, but without all the political dialog. Instead the band inserts various snippets from what sound like fifties television shows, along with sound effects that could have been copped from some old Warner Brothers cartoons.

The most approachable song on the album is most likely “Through the Warty Evening”, another Camper Van Beethoven-sounding thing but with dialog vocals along the lines of the less poppish stuff the Dead Milkmen pumped out around the same time (remember “Drivin’ Retards to the Zoo”?); while “Innermost Cravings” sounds a lot like “Dying Cows with Putrid Not Praiseworthy Predation” off their second album, but with what sounds like a stoned space alien replacing the cows.

“Porky Section” is a percussion-driven instrumental with some nasty sax and an overall dirge-like feel, and after the brief “En Vout” which just sounds like the guys in the studio playing with the knobs on their soundboard “Mouthful of Rubber” closes the album with lots of recorded spoken-word dialog (also from television or movies it sounds like). This is also one of the longest tracks Smegma ever recorded at more than seven minutes.

There’s not much that stands out on this album, and even though I’m not really a huge fan of the band I sort of expect a little more for a group that had been around for about fifteen years at the time. As an aside, the CD reissue contains a bunch of additional tracks but I personally haven’t heard any of them so can’t really comment. Fans of experimental avant may something to like here, but I have to say this one is largely meant for hardcore fans of the band only. Two stars.

peace

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 Glamour Girl 1941 by SMEGMA album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.08 | 5 ratings

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Glamour Girl 1941
Smegma RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Smegma’s first album is easily the most accessible among four that I’ve heard to-date. That’s sort of a relative statement though considering most of the band’s output would only marginally be considered music to most listeners.

This was their first proper album, recorded in their own studios shortly after their relocation from southern California to Portland, Oregon. The album was released by the Los Angeles Free Music Society, a collective of like-minded musicians from which Smegma has emerged as the longest-lasting. The subtitle “Five Wasted Years” presumably refers to the five years of touring and local appearances between when the band was founded and this first full-length studio effort.

While the group’s music is ostensibly a reaction to the glut of overblown and pretentious interpretive jazz that had flooded the southern California clubs in the latter seventies, the band still retained a strong base in jazz with this release. The same cannot really be said of some of their later work, which ranges widely from punk to post-rock to almost metal to cacophony.

The songs here are tame by comparison, with plenty of saxophone, bass and percussion, albeit in sporadic doses and not following any sort of traditional jazz patterns. The band’s output is highly experimental, and at times hard to follow. On “Die Wo-Wo” for example the band combines some sort of weird recorded sounds digitally altered with mild sax bleats for effect but with little obvious connection to the song title. The vocals are few and far between, the first coming on the fifth track “I Am Not a Artist”, a wandering discordant drum and bass number with rambling repetitions of the song title sung by someone named “Isvan Kantor” apparently shoving a microphone into his throat and blaring in a fashion not unlike that of Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes. “Ladies Nite at the Ortho Lounge" features vocals as well, but not really singing as a couple of band members bleat out combinations of guttural sounds and random, unrelated words.

You gotta’ be fairly adventurous and have an appetite for the unusual to seek these guys out, but if you’re inclined to do so this would be the right album to start with. Three stars for a daring and unique initial effort, something that can’t necessarily be said of all their work.

peace

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 Pigs for Lepers by SMEGMA album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.10 | 2 ratings

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Pigs for Lepers
Smegma RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Another one out of the archives for a band whose name sounds like something from a Harold & Kumar movie and whose album titles and covers are clearly aimed more at shock value than any kind of artistic statement.

I wonder how many disappointed punk fans back in the early eighties picked this up expecting anti-social shrieking, two-chord guitar feedback and audio stage-diving? Had to be a few at least…

This was the group’s second studio effort I believe, coming nearly ten years after they formed in Los Angles and somewhere around the time they relocated to Portland, Oregon. The ‘songs’ here - using the term loosely since this stuff is noise experimentation so the concept of a song is a subjective matter of opinion; anyway, they are somewhat more structured than the band’s third record ‘Smell the Remains’. For the most part each track is centered on some sort of repetitive, mostly musical structure usually coming either from guitar or from some sort of DJ’d taped-sound sequence. Around this the many contributors (17 people listed in the credits) lay down various embellishments using both traditional instruments (guitar, bass, drums, violin, flute) and some slightly less-conventional ones (electric mandolin, toy piano, kazoo). There are few vocals, and those that emerge are either from recorded sounds woven into the arrangements, or are brief, punk-inspired rantings mostly delivered from guitarist Harry Cess Poole (hmmm, wonder what that guy’s day job was). There’s even a sort of a tribute to “Several Species of Small Furry Animals…” but in this case featuring cows (“Dying Cows with Putrid Not Praiseworthy Predation”).

I’m describing the music in rather sterile terms mostly because I’m not sure how else to write about it. This record came out in 1982, trailing the punk era and predating post-rock though well inside a brief window of experimental music that included folks like Laurie Anderson, early Art of Noise, and a couple of weird records from Robert Fripp and Andy Summers. But in the case of Smegma there’s a distinct level of experimentation with even the musical structures themselves, and clearly a lot of improvisation around a simple theme with few (if any) rules involved. In that respect I’d place this record a bit closer to folks like Set Fire to Flames, a bunch of classical and rock musicians who locked themselves in an old farmhouse and embarked on several days of sleep-deprived debauchery just to see what sort of music would come out of that experience. Or Cerberus Shoal’s “split CD series” of collaborations with other experimental bands where each tries to influence the other’s sound in what usually ends up as ad-hoc musical porridge. Sometimes these projects work, sometimes they are colossal failures. The risks are great and in my personal opinion the potential rewards minimal, but in the end I suppose these sorts of musical experiments are done by musicians, for musicians, and we are left to help offset the cost by hopefully picking up a few copies of the resulting recordings.

I won’t recommend this to anyone because like their other record I’ve heard I’m not sure who to recommend it to. As a big post-rock fan I can certainly hear some early leanings in that direction here, especially on the second half of the record with songs like “Madness Mambo”, “Oh-Ooh!” and “Mr. Potatohead’s Flotation Excercises”. But there’s a bit too much reliance on taped sequences and general noise as opposed to really well-thought music in my opinion. I’m sure this is a treasure to the group’s fans so it deserves at least two stars, but since the audience beyond that presumably small group is illdefined I’m not really willing to add any more stars, so que sera sera.

peace

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 Smell the Remains by SMEGMA album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Smell the Remains
Smegma RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars One of the only remaining active groups from the seventies Los Angeles Free Music Society scene, Smegma combines the experimentalism of Laurie Anderson, the unpredictability of Zappa, subtlety of Jello Biafra and overall grace of the most vile of punk bands to deliver a brand of music that certainly has to be acknowledged as innovative, though questionably progressive.

The ‘songs’ here, if they can be called that, consist of noise, special effects, spliced in segments of various taped recordings (both natural and man-made) and occasionally actual musical instruments to form themes and thoughts that are probably only coherent or understandable to the people who compiled them. Art of Noise made similar music in the eighties, although in their case the visuals were an integral part of the experience and the band managed to demonstrate at least nominally recognizable song structures and sporadic rhythms from time to time. Guapo are a more recent example, but in their case the instrumentation tends to overshadow the taped sounds and the band does seem to have some sense of cohesion to their themes. There’s little to none of any of that here though.

Members of the group all present themselves under pseudonyms, so who knows who they really are. Just for fun try imagining three U.S. Supreme Court justices, Nelson Mandela, that nerdy kid who pushed the film projector cart back in your middle school, and the janitor at your local hardware store performing under the names of Amazon Bambi, Baby J, Cheez- it-Ritz, Dr. Id, Ju Suk Reet Meet and White Mohamed; frankly I think that’s the point of this music anyway, to have a little fun and use your imagination.

Despite the disgusting band name and borderline offensive title, the music (using that term loosely) is moderately interesting, but it will not appeal to many folks and is unlikely to win the group any converts who aren’t already into noise-constructed avant-garde. From the drone of “Beauty School” to the heavily-mixed voice tracks and dissonant horns of “Can't Look Straight” to the Gun Club-like punk of “Credo Quia Absurdum Est - Hot Beeshead Hit the Wax”, this stuff is only for the more open-minded of progressive music enthusiasts. For that reason I can’t say as I recommend it to anyone in particular, and haven’t a clue what to rate the album. I guess I’ll go with three stars just because the band is innovative if highly unconventional, and for that they probably deserve just a little more than a ‘collectors only’ label. Good luck, and if you are completely turned-off don’t blame me!

peace

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