It shouldn't surprise anyone that as musicians age, they grow. Such was the case with blues, jazz, and classic rock musicians, and now the punk upstarts of 25 years ago are the grizzled vets, unafraid to follow whatever path their muse takes them down.
Billed in the press release as a "punk-jazz-rock experimental super-group." Unknown Instructors are comprised of San Pedro journeymen Mike Watt, George Hurley, Joe Baiza, Dan McGuire, and Jack Brewer, and "The Way Things Work "is a 54-minute distillation of a single four-hour recording session. Such tactics call to mind the legend of the recording of the Captain Beefheart classic, "Trout Mask Replica", and that influence pervades the disc. The difference is that Beefheart had his band rehearse Trout Mask's complex arrangements for months, while UI wrote and recorded the entire album in the above-mentioned session.
Reuniting Watt and Hurley is a no-brainer, and they lock into each other with the precision they've always had. Baiza's guitar playing is immediate and McGuire's vocals are like a crazed beatnik riffing on whatever pops into his head. Brewer's vocal contributions on four tracks, and Baiza's on "Walk with Me" are also suitably deranged.
Challenging yes, but also fun, "The Way Things Work " will please fans of the above musicians as well as avant-garde lovers in general.