That Beatnik Shit

Someone’s gotta keep that beatnik shit going. You know: A poet raves prophetic visions while boho chums instrumentalize outside the confines of rhythm, rhyme and reason. Sure, it’s unwanted. Possibly nobody hears it but God. But that’s the point: The poet rite is the tender string, and God is the balloon, and if the string breaks, God is gone.

So thank God for Unknown Instructors, a gang of old SoCal punks (and one poet from Toledo) who have never walked the main road, and never could. They are Mike Watt and George Hurley (from Minutemen and Firehose; bass and drums), Joe Baiza and Jack Brewer (from Saccharine Trust; guitar and voice), and Dan McGuire (poetry). The music on their new The Way Things Work undulates, chatters and quacks, half of a subliminal conversation with the words — two kinds of abstraction flapping around each other like a pair of newly acquainted mallards. McGuire maintains a manly tone, despairing and sure. “Shutting the drapes,” he chants, “I imbibe my quintessence from the skulls of old masters.” Here’s to ya.

Unknown Instructors play ArthurBall at the Echo, Saturday, February 25, 7 p.m.

A Jam by Any Other Band

The gents of Particle don’t like being called a jam band. Tough titty: Black Sabbath don’t like being called metal, Max Roach doesn’t like being called jazz, and I don’t like being called a grouch and a drunk. Who knows, though? Particle may be looking to change their image. To hear displaced guitarist Charlie Hitchcock tell it, the rest of the band (bassist Eric Gould, keyboardist Steve Molitz and drummer Darren Pujalet) kicked him out after five years largely for jamming too much.

The division must’ve run deep, because the timing was rotten. Audiences had sweated monsoons to Particle’s funktastic grooves, bug-eyed drive and sci-fi breakdowns, of which the chopsmanly yet gritty Hitchcock was a significant conjurer. Further, the L.A. quartet — who also owned an alter-ID as Hydra with Mickey Hart — had slung an album, 2004’s Launchpad, that satisfyingly condensed their orgiastic live marathons. Good omens. And then, instead of making a new record and consolidating their conquests, they had to retrench.

You’ve gotta admit, after a few months of auditions, Particle have come back firing. Not only will they introduce new band members at the Fonda before loading up for a tour, but they’ve invited some guest collaborators to inject the pumped-up stank of celebration. For variety, Blackalicious throw in with their rap-funk collage trip. On celebrity guitar, band pal Robby Krieger has rung a bit restrained in latter-day solo projects, but his cuspi-Doors reunion has shown him eager and able to burn down walls. And as if to haze the rookie recruits, ax god Joe Satriani will step up and repeatedly accomplish the impossible. The whole thing’s being filmed for DVD.

Particle, with DJ Logic opening, play the Henry Fonda Theater on Friday, February 24; check www.?

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