STS9 - Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace CD

Boldly unique and beyond categorization, the sound of Sector 9 is an evolving balance of many intentions rooted deep in a natural, intuitive groove. This is a band on a mission of higher calling: with the stated purpose of “healing through music”—and that’s purely instrumental music, no vocals here, kids—the members of Sector 9 aspire to more than just loosen limbs and shake butts. In fact dancing is only one element of the therapeutic process--awareness, activism, and spontaneous works of art are a few others. As part of their sonic remedy for the masses, Sector 9 has prescribed their second full-length album, wisely titled Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace. Like their transcendent live shows, this album represents something much greater than just the sum of its parts. It’s a blueprint, or a roadmap maybe, that relies equally on the thoughtful interpretations of the listener and the telekinetic talent of the musicians.

In a live setting Sector 9 is unparalleled in their explorative, experimental flights, stretching out to a faraway musical Nirvana where on any given night all things are possible. Here jazz, drum ‘n’ bass, prog rock, funk, and house coexist in harmony; the sound is cerebral and sensual at the same time. On Schematics, this improvisational spirit translates into the innovative recording techniques and enigmatic studio wizardry that makes each listening experience distinctly interactive. Many of the sounds on the album have been so tweaked, mutated, and filtered that they abandon the context of instrumentation and blend into a lush sonic collage of extraterrestrial origins. But make no mistake, the skill of human hands lies behind every note, and the soul and sweat of human heart resounds within each tune. Throughout the album, the band’s astonishing focus and restraint dwell paradoxically within its all-encompassing musical ethic, generating a vivid, dreamlike vibe and an undeniably hypnotic groove.

“Forword,” a 20-second mechanized hiccup, sets the otherdimensional tone of the album right from the start. This intro bubbles straight into “Squares and Cubes” which, with its filtered breakbeat tabla and ethereal flute runs, could be the dancefloor hit at Shiva’s next house party. The recognizable piano and solid bass in “Otherwise Formless” are comfortably serene after the liberated sounds of the previous tune. David Phipps’ sparse, syncopated piano exudes tender restraint, like poetry, holding back something secret and significant. It’s the slow, subtle anticipation of Phipps’ musings and David Murphy’s understated bassline that make the groove so achingly precise. In “Kamuy,” the band transitions from laid-back fuzak, drenched with breezy keys and spitfire percussion, into an upbeat disco/jazz/funk jam, into a gentle acoustic guitar/piano meditation, with unblinking confidence. The liquid flute of Kofi Burbridge (former Allman Bros bassist Oteil’s oldert brother) makes an appearance on “Watersong,” trickling down alongside Hunter Brown’s cascading guitar riffs and the pitter-patter of Djefrie Lerner’s percussion. Once again showing uncanny song titling instinct, the band unleashes mad cyborg funk with “Common Objects Strangely Placed.” The alien, staccato churn, backed by Phipps’ nocturnal keys, sound like the inner workings of a robotic groove factory.

The following track, “…And Some Are Angles,” is possibly the most ambitious and conceptual of the album. Here Burbridge’s flute circles and elevates drummer Zach Velmer’s entrancing d’n’b rhythms to another plane, while Brown lends just the right degree of laid-back guitar bliss to the mix. Celestial and buoyant, “…And Some Are Angels” embodies the positive, inexpressible sound of Sector 9. Conjuring pixelized images of its namesake, “Turtle” manages to sound both plodding and graceful at the same time. The band shows just how far out they can stray on “Mischief of a Sleepwalker,” a tune that’ll test your stereo’s bass capacity with its humming analog synths that seem to leak in from all sides. The electro-analog solo tweakout midway through the track is by far one of the most mysterious sequences on the album, leaving a dark, smirking question mark in its rhythmic wake. The straight-ahead funk bassline of “Inspire Strikes Back” belies the stratospheric heights the keys/guitar combo brings it into. Listen to “EB,” the final track on the album, and your mind races with the music but just can’t seem to catch up and the music leads you away…

Sector 9 is many things to many people. The music manages to be intimate and universal simultaneously. Embracing this paradox, Sector 9 allows each listener his or her own conclusions about what they hear. Above all the album is a process of interpretation. After several listens you’ll only begin to comprehend the emotions, ideas, and beliefs behind the music.

by Jonathan Zwickel -

Buy Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace at Homegrown Music!
[Published on: 10/28/00]

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