Particle is back, and with its new album, “Accelerator,” the band is proving to be better than ever. The California born live electronic group set the jam band scene on fire in the early 2000s with groundbreaking live shows and a landmark debut album, “Launchpad.”
Particle gave its audience a powerful new look into what bands could produce by hybridizing the captivating electronic sounds of DJs and the spontaneity of accomplished musicians. Fusing elements of funk, electronic, metal and jazz, the artists solidified their position among other top touring acts. Then, as the frenzied psychedelic climax they seemed to encapsulate so well began to reach its zenith, they fizzled away. Seemingly lost in the ether of bands passed.
But the flashback is here. Nearly 15 years since the first album, “Accelerator” refuels and reignites Particle’s engines on its musical exploration and continues pushing the group deeper toward the unknown boundaries of imagination.
With some fans waiting more than a decade for this, Particle wastes no time achieving lift off. The first track, “Wire,” comes out full bore. The high-tempo, infectious groove lays the foundation for what many have be craving, Steve Molitz. Undoubtedly the expedition’s leader, Molitz and his keyboard abilities are unparalleled. Not only is he an extremely competent pianist, he shapes sounds with his digital and analog components like no one else on Earth.
Beyond his role in Particle, Molitz has become a sought after player for his unique approach to his instrument. He has toured with Phil Lesh and Friends, Robby Krieger (The Doors), The Black Crowes and others. Truly one of the innovators of the single-note style of playing, he has set a new standard on this album.
While the first two tracks are far more reminiscent of the earlier Molitz-driven Particle, “Home Away From Home” is really where the group seems to step onto new ground. This song begins to capture the whole band. With the addition of their first recorded vocals, the musicians expand their sonic vocabulary even more. Creative guitar breaks and keyboard synth melodies weave together with bass and drums so seamlessly that it’s easy to forget this isn’t a DJ. Drummer Kito Bovenshulte takes an opportunity to highlight the benefits of a badass human to even the best drum sequencer. His breakbeats and fills are so fluid and natural, but hit with the accuracy and precision of a computer. His execution of tempo and feel changes throughout the album are worth review by even the most advanced drummers.
If drums and bass were their vehicle, no one could argue that the keyboards drove Particle. But it would also be indisputable that guitar was sitting shotgun. Though they’ve had several different cast members, all had a hard-rock style that gave the players another unique edge in the jam band world. I was surprised by the seemingly tentative introduction of Michael Daum. For the first half of the album the guitar is in an almost exclusively supportive role. It’s well worth the wait. Every solo is unique, crushing and most importantly musical. Some guitarists have a tendency to overplay, but that is certainly not the case here. His style brings a totally new perspective to Particle.
That’s what I liked most about the album, a new perspective. In recent years, with the meteoric rise of electronic music, the scene has been oversaturated with very similar sounding songs — songs with seemingly identical beats, the similar tones (or non-tones) and same ideas permeating the airwaves. Every offering on this album is different, and every song is in some way noteworthy. That’s why “Accelerator” will be a breath of fresh air for any music lover. By using the evolution of computerized music during its hiatus in sync with its progressed musicianship, Particle has produced a fun, energizing, crushing new “launchpad.” Buckle up.
— Dan Green