With each passing decade, music evolves as society does, reflecting the beauty, struggle, happiness, and pain in life. Music’s journey cannot be stopped and it will continue to surprise us as society calls out for a new voice in both good times and bad.
Today is no different — in many ways, our generation is living the same form of social collectivism that came from the 60s and 70s as a nation at war. Society can come together in harsh times when change and a new direction is needed, and it is often music that brings the hardest issues and sentiments to bear.
Sound Tribe Sector 9, a difficult band to classify, is an intriguing example of how music in times of struggle can bring people together to address the social climate of the day, as well as how to change society through the purity of music.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 was formed in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1990s. At the time, the group was short some members and known as only Sector 9. By 2000, the group picked up its final members, moved to Northern California, and renamed themselves Sound Tribe Sector 9.
Sound Tribe, as they are often called, started off by playing music that could be categorized under the genre of “drum and bass.” “Drum and bass” is a rhythm-driven style of music in which the drummer and the bassist lay down fast beats and grooves that change on a dime. The rest of the band is then free to utilize melodies that dance around the powerful rhythm. Sound Tribe recorded several studio and live albums under this powerful genre, but as time changed, so did it.
Today it could be considered, among other things, as an “intelligent dance music” band. Intelligent dance music, or IDM, is a genre characterized by individual experimentation. Both of these genres are evolutions of the techno movement. The various offshoots of techno are often summarized as electronica, but Sound Tribe has pushed electronic music into a new territory. Simply put, Sound Tribe’s music is great dance music that you might hear at a club, but with a musical complexity that would appease the most discerned listener. Its music is a fusion of various styles that bring an audience on a journey, and one that is unique and open to interpretation.
Sound Tribe is known for its powerful performances, but it was its recent album “Peaceblaster” that was not only its pinnacle of studio work, but also a call for society to take on a new direction. Although they are a band that uses lyrics sparingly, the words that pour through speak to social commentary. An interview with the band reveals their sentiments that music, be it their own or other types of music coming out these days, carries a message and a spirit.
An interview found on www.last.fm reveals Sound Tribe’s feelings about music today. Band member Hunter Brown comments, “there is incredible music coming out these days. People feel alive. They feel that their lives matter, that their choices matter. This leads to great art.”
When commenting on “Peaceblaster,” bassist David Murphy states, “America is this beautiful, incredible place, but it has a dark underbelly, 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.”
Sound Tribe has crossed many genres and has reached an audience by delivering powerful performances and respecting music’s great influence on society. “The music of the sixties and seventies reflected the politics of the era,” Murphy says in the aforementioned article. “America’s back in that place right now.”
Sound Tribe has done more than simply bring people together through the power of music; it has also made a valiant effort to use its music to preach social awareness and responsibility. After releasing “Peaceblaster,” the band created a Web site after the album that displays a variety of current issues, from Afghanistan to healthcare. Sound Tribe also actively donates money to charitable organizations across the country. Just last summer, Sound Tribe directed its humanitarian efforts to the organization “Make it Right,” a charity working towards building homes for Hurricane Katrina victims. It is refreshing to hear about a band that has taken so many steps toward achieving social awareness and harmony through the power of their music.
Sound Tribe is composed of Hunter Brown (guitar/laptop/midi keyboard), Jeffree Lerner (percussion/laptop/handsonic) David Murphy (bass/laptop/midi keyboard), David Phipps (keyboards/laptop), and Zach Velmer (drums). From the mesmerizing lights to getting lost on the journey they take us on, they are sure to please a wide audience. It serves as an added bonus to appreciate the band’s effort to use their success for the cultivation of social awareness as they help push music forward into bold new territories.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 is performing on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 8:00 pm at The Klein in Bridgeport. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fairfieldtheater.org