Sound Tribe Sector Nine - Peaceblaster CD

STS9 thrives on friction. This may be surprising coming from five musicians who think of themselves as a collective as much as a band. But consider the title of the California-based outfit's long-awaited fourth album: Peaceblaster. The two words rub against each other to create an image that is simultaneously utopian and violent, fraught with the very contradiction that permeates America circa now.

"America is this beautiful, incredible place, but it has a dark underbelly," bassist David Murphy says. "And even on Peaceblaster's most ethereal songs, there's a darkness that reflects what's going on in society - it ain't all bad, but it ain't all good." "Music measures the temperature of the people," adds guitarist Hunter Brown. "Consumerism and the corporate media have taken us all down the path of cynicism, apathy, and nihilism. If the message on the new record is anything, it's to blast that shit."

Armed with a batch of song ideas and fueled by the tension of the times, the band (which in addition to Brown and Murphy, features percussionist Jeffree Lerner, keyboardist David Phipps, and Zach Velmer on drums) took a break from their masochistic touring schedule and holed up in their recording studio, determined to make the strongest album of their career. "The last few records, it felt like we were learning on the job," says Murphy. "But the new record is the job."

The result is a tour-de-force of gut-punching rhythms and textured, shimmering tones. The songs don't seem to have been written so much as plucked from the sky. It's as if the beats and melodies have always existed, just waiting for STS9 to channel them. That isn't to say the recording process was easy. When this much passion and idealism is driving an album, arguments are inevitable. "Sure, we had little disagreements," Brown says. "Bringing new ideas into the light of day is difficult - for musicians, politicians, everybody." "We're five people with different tastes and styles," says Murphy. "But ultimately we let the songs tell us what to do."

The songs may have been talking, but according to Murphy, Hunter Brown is the guy who made sure the band was listening. "He's always challenging us to take things further, make things better," Murphy says. "We knew we wanted to put out a great one, and Peaceblaster is beyond anything we've ever done."

Brown says simply, "The pot has been boiling for a long time. Now we've got a really good stew." STS9 already has a tremendous fan base, but the new album is perhaps more accessible than the band's previous efforts. Peaceblaster is, of course, dense with the Eno-esque layering of live and electronic instruments that STS9 is known for - the chords and samples swirling atop the pulsing bass and drums. But between the beats there is a distinctly human element absent from past records. Brown, Murphy, and Lerner even sing occasionally, adding voices to the sonic stew for the first time. Still the band understands that their sound is somewhat esoteric. "Our feeling is that this record could be for everybody," Murphy says. "But then again, probably not."

01 Peaceblaster '68 mp3 sample
02 Peaceblaster '08 mp3 sample
03 Metameme mp3 sample
04 Shock Doctrine mp3 sample
05 The Spectacle mp3 sample
06 Regeneration mp3 sample
07 Beyond Right Now mp3 sample
08 The Fog mp3 sample
09 Hidden Hand, Hidden Fist
10 The Last 50,000 Years
11 Empires
12 The New Soma
13 Oh Little Brain
14 Late For Work
15 Squishface

Released July 8, 2008