Ad Explorata, STS9’s Latest Album Reaches Welcomed New Heights
By Daniel C. Cameron
STS9’s latest release, “Ad Explorata” is full of richly textured music that takes on emotions tantalizing the sweetness of a morning dew to the hard and dirty grit of war.
Ad Explorata is produced by the band’s self-owned independent label 1320 Records. The album is STS9s fifth studio album, but 12th release overall. It encompasses the digital studio mastery STS9 fans have become use to as well as the organic, surreal feel one gets at an STS9 concert.
California-based STS9 is an instrumental band whose music fits into many genres, making it hard to describe their unique approach in one or two words. Their style spans rock, space music, electronic, house, funk and more creating a rich and broad range of sound that the band describes as “post-rock dance music.” When downloaded into iTunes, Ad Explorata lists the genre as “electronic.”
“Oil Water” Single Cover Art
The band tells a very interesting story about how they came up with the name Ad Explorata. Being music and sound geeks, they were playing with a short wave radio to get some “sounds and noises” when they discovered an artificial woman’s voice counting off numbers. The song ‘Central’ on the album has this voice worked into the intro. The numbers were called in a very uniform cadence and intrigued, the band asked a friend of theirs to help decipher the message. It turns out that the code in the recording revealed an exact location in Big Sur.
Naturally, they went on a mission to find the location. There they found a building and inside it was an old rusty metal box. The box contained “a few pictures, documents, patches, passports, and a knife.” One of the photos became art for the debut single off the album titled “Atlas.” And one of the patches became the design overlay for the entire Ad Explorata album.
“Atlas” Single Cover Art
This symbol, it turns out, is from a unit patch of a former “black ops” group that worked in Cold War signal intelligence and even was involved in interplanetary intelligence. The unit’s motto was ‘Ad Explorata, Forward into the Unexplored.’
Tracks on the album includes new songs that demonstrate the band’s classic and unique sound. However, Ad Explorata also shows the maturity of this sound.
What was once a very cool, trippy kind of music has evolved into a force that has the capability of taking listener’s on entire journeys while controlling the listener’s thoughts and emotions. Cool and trippy are still elements of the sound, but today’s STS9 music has a breadth that is expansive and can take you to the farthest reaches of the imagination.
The album opens with a nice squishy sound in “Phoneme” that is joined by a rolling bass, then drums and guitar. “Phoneme” is airy and varied in its reaches. At about 2:30 minutes, Hunter Brown’s guitar opens the song into a grounding walk. When the song fades out, the next track “Heavy,” it is immediately obvious why this second track is called such.
“Phoneme” Single Cover Art
“Heavy” is a whole band jam with incredible rippling riffs from Brown and awe-inspiring emote from David Phipps’ keys.
As the album progresses, the exploration continues to demonstrate the further advancement of the band.
STS9 adds an edge in their modern efforts that seemed to be missing in earlier years. Several of the songs on the new album show this grinding new development. “Lion” is simply ferocious. “Looking Back on Earth” has some of this grit, but still holds a very high tune similar to “Atlas,” but with a different approach that includes the classic STS9 feel but with a touch of dark.
“EHM” is signature STS9. The title track “Ad Explorata” encompasses the band’s sound over the years. And “Re:Stereo” is that sweetness referred to above.
For those listeners, who love the straight funk jams, “Central” is it. Calm, cool, collected and rump-shaking. “Echoes” concludes the adventure with some wild spaciness that fades out in the end as if the band was thoughtfully and gently setting the listener down on level ground. Very apt.
I have been listening to the album without spaces between the tracks and by doing so, I have discovered a seamless musical escapade. I recommend it.
Overall, this album comes highly recommended from personal acquaintances, which are also fans of the band. I tried it out on a few other friends who had not known STS9 at the time and now they are fans themselves, some have reported even buying the album.
For fans of STS9, it is a no-brainer, go buy the album. For fans of electronic music and rock and roll Ad Explorata is a perfect album to add to your collection.
by Sound Tribe Sector 9
1. Phoneme (7:53)
2. Heavy (6:21)
3. Looking Back On Earth (6:34)
4. Oil & Water (6:52)
5. Crypto City (2:49)
7. ATLAS (5:59)
8. Ad Explorata (3:42)
9. Re:Stereo (7:12)
10. Central (5:40)
11. Lion (5:40)
12. Echoes (4:06)
STS9 is Hunter Brown on guitar,laptop and midi keyboard; Jeffree Lerner on percussions, laptop and handsonic; David Murphy on bass, laptop and midi keyboard; David Phipps on keyboards and laptop; and Zach Velmer on drums.
Purchase Ad Explorata
Photo by Jeremy Running Courtesy sts9.com. This photo is from a recent concert at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Ore.
- — Cory Hoffart Mar 4, 11:21 PM #