by: Sound Tribe Sector 9

When a band says things like "consumerism and the corporate media have taken us all down the path of cynicism, apathy, and nihilism" and "the music we like has always spoken to the struggle," one might be forgiven for expecting a certain amount of hectoring in the lyrics, and maybe a bit of overweening '60s revivalism in the music. And to be sure, it's not like Sound Tribe Sector 9 haven't been guilty of both at times in their past work. But on Peaceblaster there aren't really any lyrics at all -- the band sticks to the instrumentals that have been its meat and potatoes since it formed ten years ago -- and the music is a rich blend of elements from any number of rock and electronica subgenres. The results are consistently enjoyable without ever being really terribly interesting. The music doesn't come across as overly smooth and it's certainly not lazy, but there is a kind of laid-back confidence that informs even the most raucous tracks on this album -- and the most raucous tracks aren't very raucous. They're funky (check out "Beyond Right Now" and the eventually jungly "Metameme") and sometimes avant-gardish (the weird music-and-spoken-word sound collage "Regeneration"), and sometimes they're downright jazzy (the borderline fusion experiment "Oh Little Brain"). And the band does manage to get preachy in a couple of cases by importing some found-sound speechifying. But for the most part this album is good, not terribly challenging fun. ~ Rick Anderson

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