Traveling with the Tribe: An Experience of the Spirit
A week after the last of four consecutive Sound Tribe Sector 9 shows, the vibrations are still running through me. After being aware of Sector 9 for about a year, I was delighted to find out that they were coming near me on their midwest tour. I'd not heard much live material, but after listening to their albums, reading interviews and reviews, and checking out the communication lowdown from their web page, they managed to become my top priority in what bands I wanted to see. I'd been planning a road trip that would last all summer, and it worked out so that Sector 9's shows from Bloomington to Chicago would mark the beginning of my adventures, and now I know, I couldn't have begun my travels in a better way.

The show in Bloomington began with an offering of love for the percussionist whom wasn't able to play that night due to ill health. With the opening sounds came the movement of the dancers. And with those opening notes, I smiled, as I knew I was about to experience what I'd read about, and I knew I was about to find something I'd been looking for. The sound pouring out from the stage during those four nights was pure, inviting me to close my eyes and breath deep and be lifted up. Energy and passion was apparent in the band as they shared an organic vibration in sound which sang a song of truth. "This is not of this world," I thought, as joy-tears came into my eyes. Their sound is groove oriented with the bass keeping a solid dynamic foundation, drums exploding with kinetic energy, and percussion adding a rainbow of rhythmic color while intricate keyboards and expressive guitar textures painted harmonious soundscapes of bliss. Sections of ambience and pure spaciness would lull the listeners to silent undulations. Deep(space)funk jams also made their way into the shows. And I do mean DEEP THICK GROOVES from outer space.

Sector 9's music is a step outside of what has become typical in the jamband scene. Their improvisations aren't defined by a soloist leading the jam into some climactic peak (which is all good and well), but rather, there are no soloists at all, and they beautifully capture the essence of what it means to fuse individual parts into a completed whole, creating a whole new entity - a living, breathing, egoless, musical organism. The music is filled with subtle intricacies and dynamic heart-felt playing.

The musicianship and talent of the members in STS9 is blatantly apparent, and if you're into good live music and dancing, they certainly won't let you down. But in my interpretation, there really is "something else" going on here. It's not just a musical experience, but even more so, it's a spiritual one. Their sound is a manifestation of love, and it's something I've never seen displayed so powerfully in any other band, or anywhere for that matter, quite an accomplishment I'd say coming from a young, all-instrumental group. And as I learned from speaking w/ some of them along the way, this love being shared isn't just a part of Sector 9, but it's the foundation on which their music is based, and it's a love that is also an integral part of their lives, as Hunter Brown told me one night, "We live this everyday."

So much of the music world is filled with sex, violence, and attitude, and so much surrounding the jamband scene is a culture of drugs and losing one's self in the music and chasing the frenzied jam. The subtle sound and message of Sector 9 just might, instead, lead you to find yourself and step back to consider why we're here and what this worldly experience is all about. It's easy to forget what's real and what's important day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute. It's hard to live in a way where we no longer strive for happiness, but instead experience it as a reality. But as we go, it may be helpful to consider their message: Time is Art, You are Love, Peace is Now.

Mike Rempel

[Published on: 6/4/01]

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