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Unknown Instructors: The Way Things Work

Combining elements of avant-garde jazz, spoken word hip-hop, punk, post-rock, and funk comes Unknown Instructors and their debut The Way Things Work. This is one of those CD's that after a few listens you are left shaking your head saying "what was that all about?", yet, you are compelled to hit the replay button. I've honestly never heard anything like this. Imagine a head on collission between Captain Beefheart, Funkadelic, Miles Davis, MC5, and the Stooges...well, sort of. There's plenty of savage wah-wah laced guitar work from Joe Baiza that has elements of Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Hazel, and Mike Stern, to go along with groovy rhythm work and the spoken word rants & raps of Dan McGuire, who also adds some sax here and there. Just when you get lulled into a jazzy trance the band crashes back with some ferocious punk/rock/funk hybrid, yet the vibe overall is very free-form and avant-garde throughout. The weird thing is as much as I use the genres to describe the style of this band, it really doesn't do them justice, as they fit into none of those categories. Puzzling, I know.

Is the music of Unknown Instructors easy to digest? No. Is is easy to ignore? Again, no. This is not something that you can just pop into your CD player any old time. These guys have a lyrical message to get across, and an attitude that they want to convey musically as well. Think angry poetry with some venemous yet jazzy musical accompaniment. After about a half-dozen listens I'm still not sure about this CD, but damn if it doesn't keep intriguing me nontheless. If you are ready for something completely different, check this out.

Track Listing
1) I'll Show You Everything
2) Where You Find It
3) Punk (is Whatever We Made it to Be)
4) Something Eternal
5) Starving Artists
6) The New Bluesman
7) Punch Out *The Layoff* Gratuity
8) Walk With Me
9) Creature Comforts
10) An Evening in Hell
11) Scansion
12) Adam's Apple
13) Turf Songs
14) I Think
15) Lost and Found

Added: September 2nd 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Smog Veil Records
Hits: 2660
Language: english

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Unknown Instructors: The Way Things Work
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-06-01 20:38:29
My Score:

"The Way Things Work" is the debut album by the Unknown Instructors which by their label are listed as a Punk-Jazz-Rock Experimental Super-Group and if you think that the specification is a lot to absorb just wait until you hear what's happening on the CD. The sound is unlike anything that I had ever heard and that's because it blends the elements of Jazz with Punk and also freeform spoken word poetry which when blended together deliver something that is not easily enjoyed or even understood with one simple listen. The fascinating project finds Mike Watt on bass, George Hurley on drums, Joe Baiza on guitar, Dan McGuire on vocals with special guest Jack Brewer offering up additional vocals. According to the press release that I dug up when listening to the album the entire release was recorded during one involved four hour session and all of the vocals were improvised. This made it rather interesting to absorb because how does one define good or bad on something where so much creativity is pulling the musical understanding into different shapes and forms that are not often done together. This might not be something for everyone, but I feel those lovers of the Progressive vibe might be open to it or those who lean to the extreme Avant-garde Experimental sort of things. As I mentioned this piece of music cannot be clearly understood after a single listen and I myself had spun it several times before I even had any semblance of an idea about it. I think if you are someone who appreciates those who bring difference to the musical table might enjoy it the most while those who have a clear genre classification that they abide by should give this a pass. They wouldn't get it nor be expected to.

The packaging for this one while very eco-friendly, was also very interesting based on the artwork that adorned the cover. It features a disassembled water heater with all the parts labeled and when the listener opens up the digipak they see a similar blueprint for the inside of a toilet tank, but it names the band as its parts and the back lines out the songs against the visual of an unassembled faucet. That was very different when it came down to it. There is no booklet to speak of and I actually had to say that I enjoyed its quirky and minimalist design. If conventional musical themes no longer do it for you then by all means dig into the Unknown Instructors for they might serve your needs very well.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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