Boomkat Product Review:
Le Forte Four’s Bikini Tennis Shoes is a decidedly charming slice of avant-garde tomfoolery that practically triggered the whole LAFMS (Los Angeles Free Music Society) movement back in 1974. It’s unhinged in the best way, recklessly skipping between mad, ahead-of-their-time electronic noise, covers of The Star Spangled Banner and Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring and skronky lounge music with wickedly unpredictable behaviour. Easy to hear why this is counted as a classic of American anti-music, and in case you were wondering, it’s not a difficult listen either. Just properly beguiling.
“The origins of Le Forte Four are those of the Los Angeles Free Music Society itself. Chip Chapman joined forces with Rick Potts (and shortly thereafter Tom and Joe Potts), taking up the LAFMS name in 1974. Ultimately baptizing themselves Le Forte Four, they began threading imagined lines between John Cage and The Residents, Cecil Taylor and Henry Cow – generating sounds completely unlike any of these and anything since.
The inaugural release on the eponymous LAFMS imprint with only 200 copies pressed originally, Bikini Tennis Shoes is a staggering piece of anti-music that remains as refreshingly ground-clearing today as it was when it first appeared in 1975. Its 40 minutes (parceled out across nearly as many tracks) chart forays into free improvisation, Buchla misuse, filtered noise, begrudging and damaged melodic sorties (from the Star-Spangled Banner to Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring") and healthy doses of basement pablum.
Le Forte Fouremerged out of the lethargic American '70s as a locus where, in their own words, "gamelans and ragas merged with serial and chance compositions finally melting together with instructional records and Beatles bootlegs." A wildly eclectic rummaging of postwar culture and 20th century sound, Le Forte Four’s Bikini Tennis Shoes preempts punk's outsider ethos and DIY autodidactism.”