Electronic music is criticized for using cold and soulless sounds made by machines. It’s often dismissed as falling in one of two camps: sleep-inducing new-age soundscapes or frantic beats for sleepless day-glo ravers. Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) is here to prove both of those assumptions wrong.
They call their music “jamtronica,” a descriptive way of saying that their electronica features rich, worldly beats, melodies and harmonies. Their five members create layers of sound that you can escape into; synth-heavy bass lines slink over sounds at home in jazz, funk or reggae. They’re actually playing their instruments — and well — not just turning knobs, though they do use technology to enhance their creativity.
STS9’s 1998 debut, Interplanetary Escape Vehicle, and their next two recordings, were released on another label. Since 2002, their music has been released on their own 1320 Records imprint. Though they haven’t released anything since 2011’s When The Dust Settles, they have plenty of material to pull from their 14 recordings, and their 12th studio album will be released later this year. Joining them on their Northwest tour dates is 1320’s newest talent find, Russ Liquid. His website says he “brings a much-needed injection of melody and emotion to the thriving dance floor community.”
Maybe it’s that floor-rocking groove that draws crowds to STS9 shows, but it could also be that they’ve turned their concerts into food drives for the nonprofit Conscious Alliance, and they’ve donated generously to Hurricane Katrina relief (they’re from Georgia). Since 2006, they’ve toured the country in a carbon-neutral tour bus and utilized renewable energy. STS9 is not only electronic music with soul, it’s got heart too.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Russ Liquid play 8 pm Saturday, Feb. 23, at McDonald Theatre; $27.50 adv., $30 door.