Artifact: Perspectives – Sound Tribe Sector 9 and various artists
Over the years, Sound Tribe Sector 9 has dug deeper and deeper into its electronic influences. Originally an organic outfit, whose sound melded jazz/fusion with light trance, STS9 has gradually drifted into virtual reality embracing computers, synthesizers and a DJ persona dubbed Live PA. Perhaps the final stage in the group’s evolution towards electronica is Perspectives, the first remix album culled from the group’s long labored studio disc Artifact.
A 15 song collection, arriving roughly six months after the group first unearthed Artifact, Perspectives features remixes by a number of well known DJs, hip-hop MCs and electronic producers. Intended as an Artifact companion piece of sorts, interjecting new energy into STS9’s songbook as is the group continues to barnstorm clubs across the country, Perspectives turns out to also be something of a shift in identity.
Gliding from dub to drum and bass to thoughtful hip-hop, Perspectives continues to develop STS9’s often overlooked studio persona. Instead of remixing its entire album, STS9 focuses on Artifact’s signature tracks: “Tokyo,” “Possibilities” and “Better Day,” with a few additional numbers thrown in for good measure. On Artifact, instead of filling its 60 minutes with lengthy instrumental jams, STS9 turned in a extremely layered electronic collection which creates a lush mood instead of a series of individual songs.
Similarly,Perspectives removes the members of STS9 from their individual instruments instead focusing on the group’s electronic tapestry of sound. And, by the end of its first listen, Perspectives succeeds in distancing STS9 from its jamband tag (perhaps one of the album’s unspoken goals?)
As expected, each of Perspectives remixes resembles its creator’s voice. Drum-n-bass icons Ming + FS adjoin “Tokyo” and “Better Day” like Siamese twins while Richard Devine creates an electric suite consisting of “Better Day” and “Trinocular.” Perhaps Perspectives to best numbers take the group into roots territory. On “Possibilities,” Mr. Lif, who has collaborated with STS9 on stage in the past, adds a hip-hop beat which calls his work with the Perceptionists, while noted oddball producer/bassist Bill Laswell sets the group’s “Tokyo Shinjuku Flashback Mix” around a mellow dub backdrop which recalls his famed Dub Chamber series.
Perspectives signals a new future for Sound Tribe Sector 9 and its livetronica peers. Almost eight years since techno first worked its way into the jamband lexicon, STS9 has abandoned its “band persona,” at least temporarily. At the same time it has embraced the studio world of the remix, a new realm which, surprisingly, exists not far from the improvisational music scene. By having a number of musicians reinterpret its songs, STS9 follows the lauded jamband principal of changing its songs structures and also establishes the studio as an forum for experimentation as well as documentation. The end result allows STS9 to carve a new identity while using the studio as its newest instrument.