A lot has happened in the almost eight years STS9 last released a studio album, though they certainly haven’t been idle. In that period of time they have crossed the country dozens of times over, bringing their signature fusion of electronica, jam based explorations, and pure improvisation. There’s an army of fans who have discovered the band since their last new material, and now, at long last, their wait is over as STS9 take fans on a tour of The Universe Inside.
You can stream the three singles released below, and head over to CoS for a full album listen before its official.
The opening track “Supercluster,” which normally refers to a dense collection of stars, features a spacey atmosphere and a mock in-flight landing warning from an imaginary pilot, announcing that STS9 has returned to the studio from their longest voyage yet. “Out Of This World” comes bouncing in on a bass line that literally seizes control of the listener’s body and gets the party moving in fine style. In the years since the last album, STS9 has brought in Alana Rocklin to handle the bottom end duties. Her work on the new album is punchy and dynamic, cutting through the dense mixes when needed and always in time and on point.
The Universe Inside is STS9’s loose homage to concept albums, with the theme being, obviously exploration of inner and outer space. While the band gives each tune a far distant and otherworldly soundscapes, the use of layered, ebb-and-flow distorted dialogue segments compliment the music perfectly. Though the band hasn’t released any crafted songs in the last several years they have spent plenty of time in the studio, and it shows in every aspect of the production.
On songs like “Light Year” and “World Go Round,” the band creates the illusion of motion, of travelling through some dense other-space that pulses to a unique beat. “World Go Round” in particular does an amazing job of simulating the inescapable power of the celestial dance of gravity. Hunter Brown and Dave Phipps layer pulsing beats, wide screen washes of psychedelic atmosphere and an endless series of perfectly placed sound effects that create a wall of sound that obliterates any other sensory input. While different kinds of music are suited to different situations, there can be no multi-tasking when The Universe Inside is transmitting its space funk goodness.
Even when speaking towards more grounded subjects, like the reminder of human interconnection “Give And Take,” the lyrical urge towards sharing and caring is met with a swirling blend of keyboard flourishes and another in a seemingly endless series of perfect beats. “New Dawn, New Day” takes the tempo down a notch as it begins, before the inescapable pulse’s steady quickening inexorably speeds towards infinity. As the clock runs out on the impressive collection, we’re treated to another bridging track, “Common Descent,” which thematically returns the music to more Earth-bound territories.
Saving the title track for last, “The Universe Inside” opens with the most organic moment on the album, a chorus of voices set to the sounds of nature, a decided departure from the cosmic theme throughout. As close to a spiritual as the band is likely ever to get, the song seems like an attempt at balancing the disparate elements of the ethereal and the physical. This uplifting finale leaves listeners spent and newly enlightened. With such a quality effort after all this time fans can only hope that this release reinvigorates STS9’s passion for producing more of the magic that The Universe Inside shows them clearly capable of.