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Altered States — 6
(Zenbei ZEN-005, 1997, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-02-01

6 Cover art

Modern power trios aren't a simple task to undertake in 1997. The basis for several of them usually combine late 60s aspects of Cream and Hendrix and 80s ingredients from Rush and Primus. These bands are typically grounded by an over-the-top lead guitarist driving a competent rhythm section (e.g. SRV, Eric Johnson, Satriani) mixing blues and rock. Japan's Altered States is fundamentally different beast than that oversimplified genre. Their genesis appears to have centered around King Crimson's Discipline and Starless and Bible Black eras: and a little bit of Capt. Beefheart (without vocal entrapments). Guitar, bass, and drum kit are working together and in tandem to harness a brutal energy and noise into an appealing sound collage. The opening track, "Polidori," is a blistering chunk of ragged guitar riding the crest of a crisp upbeat drumming pattern across horizontal bass lines. These compositional segues literally swell into a high pitched whine and reprise the intro. Uchihashi Kazuhisa is the fretmeister of the band who can switch gears from funky jazzy motifs on "Alex" to smooth hammer-ons featured on "Adel." At times he recalls the textural playing of Holdsworth or Belew but with some overtones of free jazz in evident in Terje Rypdal's later trio work. Bassist Nasuno Mitsuru contributes one song of his own as an echoey spoken word vocal performance on "Adel." Drummer Yoshigaki Yasuhiro adds accents and pandemonium where necessary in all nine tracks with a careful ear on where to play, accentuate the bass line and then show restraint. Overall another fine piece of work to investigate!

Filed under: New releases, Issue 14, 1997 releases

Related artist(s): Altered States


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