Jul.02, 2013

Airway were part of the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS), a group of extremely radical experimental music anarchists in the mid-’70s. Even more radical was Airway’s focus on live performance with the use of subliminal-message tapes in the background, used to persuade the audience in different ways. Joe Potts, from the LAFMS group Le Forte Four, put out a single, “Airway,” in the spring of 1977, which was given away at an art exhibit at the Lunami Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. The single and its sleeve design had subliminal messages that reinforced the subliminals embedded in the autopsy photos of the show. The following year Potts decided to try to re-create the subliminal message beneath a Wall of Sound from that single in a live context, using a primitive tape delay and processing system he invented with Chip Chapman, also from Le Forte Four. Airway’s first performance took place in August 1978 at the Lace Gallery, with Potts and Chapman working the circuits, and Vetza on vocals, Rick Potts on mandolin, and Doo-Dooettes’ members Dennis Duck on sax, Juan Gomez on bass, and Tom Recchion on drums. The sheer noise of the music fed through the electronics and backed by Potts’ subliminal tapes soon drove people out of the gallery, where they continued to listen from a safe distance on the street three floors below. Excerpts of that show were released later that year by LAFMS on the LP Live at Lace. Airway returned to the Lace on October 31, 1978, and also played a handful of other gigs that year and the next, with many different lineups as well as different subliminal tapes from Joe Potts. At each performance the tapes manipulated the audience, to move closer to the group, or away, or in other ways, depending on Potts’ intentions. Eventually, Potts went on to other projects and Airway fell by the wayside at the end of the 1970s. Airway was resurrected for a performance at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on February 14, 1998, with a cast of 18 musicians, who included many former Airway members and others. This performance was released on CD as Beyond the Pink Live with the original Joe Potts single “Airway.” ~ Rolf Semprebon, Rovi