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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2005/10/12
by Dan Alford


Quick Picks:
GraB, 12/31/04- Just amazing all the way through.
Warren Haynes and Friends, 5/6/01- Acoustic New School of Govt Mule
Dyaln and The Band, Before the Flood- A phenomenal live album from all those involved
The Slip, 12/26/03- The acoustic early show from the Knitting Factory
SKB, 10/1/05- Another free release, this time with the new line-up

STS9s multitrack downloads, which started in January of this year, are stunning examples of engineering and each one is a treat for the ears. Really, its a shame to not have at least a couple in every collection, so some suggestions from the spring swing in the North West:

STS9, Ashland 4/20/05 Set II

This set opens with a synthed out GLOgli followed by a finely textured Well Meet In Our Dreams > Tap In. By the time that last tune hits, the music is deep and hazy- just the right mood for the date. The mid set Be Pulse, a song closer to an art rock composition than your average STS9 song, throbs and looms large right from the outset. Zachs drums cuts a semicircle across the soundscape after the theme and directs the course of the performance thereafter with its rises and falls. The slow build beneath the breathy samples midsong is virtuosity at its best. The apex is a glorious vision realized.

The grandeur is followed like a lucid afterglow by a beauteous Baraka- a soothing stroke that keeps the tingles fresh. Luma Daylight is likewise comforting in its familiarity, but dramatic in its nuances- the slow untangling of drum rhythms leading to the piano solo, the crazy deep bass. These songs have now reached classic status, and the band seems aware of that fact.

Breath In comes together slowly, the pieces oddly distinct from each other until the first ridge. HB is playing around with his rhythm licks, having fun, and giving plenty of space to Learners sharp percussion. That percussion ties the first half of the song together and spreads out beautifully on the intro to the Exhale. The release is so long and utterly pleasing, Phipps and HB each frolicking with the other.

STS9, Portland 4/22/05 Set I

The show opening Today is a goopy opiate of a song- its open and bulging and the effects float effortlessly upward, making HBs pronounced, slightly edgy guitar seem more stable that it actually is- its a wonderful sense of falling. At the end, the effects are constant, flashing and buzzing. Its a headphone experience.

The contrasting Open E is immediately dark in its futurism. The effects chitter and clink, and the drum-n-bass and HB all hit as one, ominous and threatening. Through the middle of this maddening barrage, HB cuts a clean line that sometimes is lost beneath Zachs drums or swallowed in bass. It rages into the theme and on to a bad ass rhythm lick with sighing samples and a backbeat that increases in tempo ever so gradually, eventually realizing the clean tone once again- very nice.

A nice, ambient ReEmergance and a grooved GLOgli with a big synth bass breakdown proceed a final, fluid suite of Sweat & Concrete > Improv > Dance. The first song begins mellow with a rotation of bass, beats and blips, and rolls into a smooth, rhythmic mindset. Its very trancey, rock back and forth music; it doesnt really go anywhere, but hangs where it is, noticing all there is in the surroundings without focusing too much on any single idea. The Improv is really just a long transition, a heartier passage that builds in a spacey environment. The drumming goess slightly jungle just before the band slyly slips into Dance to complete a strong, cohesive set.

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