Smegma Dives Headfirst Into Punk Rock 1978/79 CD

SMEGMA were the true freaks of Portland punk’s first wave. A gang of mutant anti-musicians originally from Pasadena, CA and involved in the Los Angeles Free Music Society, SMEGMA moved to Portland in the mid-’70s and found themselves swept up in the freedom of the early punk movement. While the group gigged with the WIPERS, NEO BOYS, and ICE 9, and even had a young Jerry A. from POISON IDEA in their lineup, they weren’t exactly playing three-chord rockers. This compilation is an expanded edition of a 2015 tape and documents those early years, through live and home studio recordings, also including the rare 7”s Disco Diarrhea and Flashcards. While songs like “Front Row Lloyd” and “Get Away” come closest (while still being miles away) to doctrine “punk rock,” chugging away monotonously on furiously out-of-tune riffs, most of the music documented on this is droning, skronking, screeching, strange, creeping, cacophonic, freeform, improvised, and id-driven. While rooted in the punk rock history of Portland, SMEGMA were massively important in creating space for noise and experimental music in the city, and I’d declare them to be just as influential to the legacy of DIY independent music-making as DEAD MOON.