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Fen Addison & S. Glass – Sputtering And Distorted – A Reluctant History Of The Butte County Free Music Society

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Hidden but not forgotten, hinted at through piecemeal reference after the fact, the creative efforts of the members of this West-Coast-centric cadre of art mutants first took shape in the early 1980s in Chico, California, home to a state university infamous for its alcohol-embracing student body. Twenty-five years later, in 2009 to be exact, Induced Music Spasticity, the 4xLP boxest of unheard home-made four-track recordings of tape experiments, electronic improv, spoken word, live recordings, punk and psychedelic rock and general WTF, revealed a thriving artistic community determined to create an alternate if fleeting reality. That boxset launched the BuFMS label and so intrigued Bruce Russell (of The Dead C and A Handful of Dust) that he wrote a full-length think-piece about it in UK porn magazine The Wire. Since then, there have been 70 releases, plus or minus—new recordings and original material from the 1980s—on the BuFMS imprint as well as other labels domestic and international (Siltbreeze, Chocolate Monk, VHF, et al). Authored by Fen Addison with S. Glass of Bananafish, this hardcover Encyclopedia Spastica discusses 28th Day, Vomit Launch, Ziplok, The Conduits, Unlikely Modernists, Serious Problemz, Bicycle Ballet, Under Glass, KCSC, Beor The Friendly Thing, Jett Hotcomb, Daily Planet, Man Overboard, The Viper, EL&C, The Protons, Glands of External Secretion, Chaplain Addington, Doug Roberts, Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble, and—perhaps more significantly—what else was going on at the time: film and video; radio shows and radio plays; guerilla theater; stand-up comedy; art installations; literary efforts; collage and poetry zines; television shows; yet more recordings of music and ahem “music.” Every page is adorned with supporting visuals in the form of unseen flyers and posters; paintings and drawings; newspaper clippings; photos; stills from film, television and video productions; prints; personal correspondence; interview transcriptions; autobiography excerpts—a minute fraction of which has likely ever been seen by anyone not present or directly associated with its creation.
There’s no salacious gossip here, no long-festering resentments litigated, no tell-all humiliation porn. If that’s your thing, you’ll have to content yourself with living to clutch your pearls another day. Not that it’s wall-to-wall good manners. Characters and oddballs abound. Some shit-talking, but nothing scandalous like we’re used to nowadays. By no means complete or definitive, it’s nevertheless an exhaustive, in-depth chronicle of the creative and artistic endeavors of self-motivated freaks and culturally aware weirdos at a time in a place that existed beyond the scrutiny and attention of the flat-footed mainstreamers. 140-page full-color illustrated hardcover.

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