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"Guitars & Gigbytes: Plugged-In Jambands Mix Guitars and Laptops"

When Sound Tribe Sector 9 first put up tickets for its five-night run at the Boulder Theater next week, the first allotment - half the house each night, available through the band’s fan club - sold out in 19 seconds. The rest of the tickets were gone minutes after that.

It’s confirmation both of the band’s growing popularity in Colorado and of the expanding fan base for live electronica - one of the names given to the mix of Grateful Dead-inspired jam rock and drum ’n’ bass-style dance grooves that STS9 helped pioneer.

“Lotus is going to play two nights here in April and probably sell both of them out,� says Fox Theatre general manager John Caprio. “Sector 9 doing five nights at the Boulder Theater is pretty amazing; Pnuma Trio and Bassnectar, they sold out last time through; Particle has been doing their thing for a few years as well now.

“The Disco Biscuits is another band that kind of started on that; they’re doing some really amazing stuff, and they did 2,500 tickets at the Fillmore and sold out here the night before that. Obviously people are supporting it.�

It goes by several different names - jamtronica, rocktronica, electrojam - and can range in style from the instrumental, trance-inducing grooves of STS9 to the electronica-infused rock songs of the Disco Biscuits, but there’s no doubt live electronica acts are growing in popularity.

Most are like STS9, started by improvisational musicians who also grew up listening to hip-hop and ¤’90s DJs and producers like LTJ Bukem and the Chemical Brothers. On stage, they fuse “real� instruments - bass, drums, guitars and keyboards - with laptop rhythms, samples and real-time effects.

“We’ve always loved and had an affection for true instrumentation,� STS9 bass player David Murphy told the Camera in September. “We’re big lovers of (Miles Davis’) Bitches Brew, all the John McLaughlin stuff, a lot of the old Bob James, David Axelrod, some of the real orchestrated, almost rock but almost jazz, that real original late-’60s/early-’70s sound.

“We have such an affection for that, and, at the same time, we all grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, so we’re very much influenced by hip-hop and electronic music. And it just sort of naturally evolved to be that way.�

The electrojam style also has some of its roots in Nevada’s famed Burning Man festival, says Jake Schneider, a booking agent for Boulder-based Madison House. Schneider, who books Lotus, Zilla and Bassnectar and manages and books the Pnuma Trio, says the rave-style desert event has featured regular interaction between DJs and live bands since the mid-’90s.

As the style hit the mainstream, Schneider says, it started to take off.

“I’m having tons of bands wanting me to book them in this genre, and I kind of say, ‘When do I have to stop booking more live electronica groups?’� Schneider says. “This is definitely the scene. What I liken it to is the jam-band, liberal-hippie world blending with the urban world. You’ll see a dude with a cocked Yankee hat, but with dreads. There’s a lot of hip-hop that goes into it.�

It’s certainly multifaceted music for a mash-up world. Eric Pirritt, the Fox’s talent buyer and STS9’s manager, says the band’s audience varies from city to city. In Colorado and Oregon, it’s the crunchy jam-band crowd that shows up, but, in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, fans treat a Sound Tribe show more like a night out at the club.

“We’ve been able to branch lots of genres,� Pirritt says. “We’re just as likely to get a cover in Relix magazine as we are in URB magazine, which gave our DVD five stars this year.�

When Entertainment Weekly did an article on what it called livetronica, touting STS9 as a genre leader, it named Boulder band Motion For Alliance an up-and-comer to look for. MFA has since expanded to three different projects, including a four-piece live band that plays the Boulder Theater on Saturday night with the Motet, and a highly improvisational “loop lab� duo that plays a post-STS9 show Tuesday at Trilogy.

“There are some similar qualities to the fans of both jam-band music and electronic music,� says MFA bass player Chris Newton. “A lot of DJs play sets that don’t stop and have segues in between tracks. That’s kind of the art of mixing records. And similarly, bands like Phish and stuff have long songs that segue into each other and are very danceable. I think that attracted fans of the jam-band scene around the turn of the century. They were attracted to those qualities of electronic music.�

As you’d expect, drugs play a big role in both scenes as well, whether it’s the marijuana and LSD of the jam-band world or the Ecstasy of the electronica scene. A big function of the music in both cases is to further the mental expansion brought on by various substances.

“Undeniably there was or still is a drug scene in a lot of the jam- - The Daily Camera


Album - Arrival, 2001
Album - 43rd Street Sessions Volume 1, 2003



Motion For Alliance (MFA) was formed in 2001. A quartet of electronic artists, musicians, and producers, MFA soon became known for their improvisational electronic journeys through drum and bass, downtempo, mid-tempo, and beyond.

The band toured relentlessly for several years, playing from San Diego to Portland, Maine, and everywhere in between, sharing the stage with hundreds of wonderful musicians and artists, including musical heroes LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad, Perry Ferrell, Amon Tobin, and many others.

More than just a band, MFA has developed into a unified organization whose message serves as the foundation for several musical entities, all involving members of the original MFA band, and all still under the MFA moniker. The musical message is simple: positive energy is created through truthful expression, and is absorbed universally and eternally. The music is intended to inspire listeners to dance, think, create, and evolve in a positive way. It is no coincidence that the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment were linked; art inspires positive evolution, and vice-versa, and our Alliance is our contribution.

"MFA� is always at the beginning of the name of one of the musical entities, followed by a colon and a more descriptive name for that particular project.

MFA: The Drop - consists of Chris Anton (guitar, laptop), Ryan Goodman aka GMC (vocals, samples, pad keys), Chris Newton (low end, bass, bass keys), and Chris Beers (drums). MFA: The Drop is the main MFA project, and is most similar to the original manifestation of MFA as it is a live band that plays electronic music. The Drop sets all begin with hip-hop, and gradually speed up in tempo as the set develops, weaving its way through breakbeats, house, and drum and bass.

MFA: Loop-Lab - is an instrumental live looping duo, who spontaneously create electronic and organic textures on the fly, sampling and layering the sounds with the latest looping technology. None of the music is pre-recorded; the Loop-Lab starts with silence, building and morphing the improvised tracks from there. MFA: Loop-Lab consists of Chris Anton (keys, melody, glitch, electronic drums, guitar) and Chris Newton (low end, keys, electronic drums, percussion, mbira).

MFA: GMC - is lyricism, turntablism, and Live PA elements fused with various live instrumentalists for an innovative and stimulating musical experience. Ryan Goodman, aka GMC, merges originally produced tracks from all the members of the MFA crew. With lyrics that stir the heart and sustain the mind, MFA: GMC elevates listeners to a consciously aware state of being.

Fusing modern technology with exquisite musicianship, MFA music vibrates the Soul with Love and Positivity. We have worked hard to share this idea with as many people around the country and world as possible, either in person at the live performances or through other forms of communication like the Web. You are just as much a part of that alliance as we are, and we hope that you welcome it and take from it the inspiration to creatively and positively contribute to the evolution of your existence. Doing that will undoubtedly motivate those around you to do the same.

As MFA, we are honored to share our art and our lives with you!