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Altered States - Bluffs  CD (album) cover


Altered States



3.91 | 3 ratings

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4 stars Are you a fan of long improvs, with inventive guitar played through an Electro Harmonix 16 second delay (or something similar)? Do you enjoy when the guitarist in question alters the speed of the loops he's recorded and uses the altered loops in really awesome ways to add to the music? If so, you need to check out this mammoth album by Uchihashi Kazuhisa and crew. Coming in at roughly two hours and ten minutes long, it's a very good example of the kind of jazzy avant-garde music these three masters have been making over the years.

Whereas earlier albums had some composed parts along with the improv, at this stage in the band's career everything is improvised. Thankfully, each musician knows how to add to the group. They all have a unique voice on their respective instrument, but easily the most distinctive is that of Uchihashi Kazuhisa's guitar playing. The things he does with his loop station are incredible, and his playing style in general is addictive. From the first time I listened to the album 4 I knew I wanted to keep an eye on his playing. I'm glad I have, because I've been rewarded with some great and exciting improvised stuff both with this group and with others. I came to know Altered States indirectly while first looking into Korekyojinn, as the bassist from this group, Nasuno Mitsuru, joins Yoshida and Kido in that power trio. I've come to believe that being asked to play bass in a group with Yoshida is a sure sign that the bassist in question is top notch, so I checked out this, his "main" group.

Some of you are probably thinking to yourselves "A two hour plus long album of improvisations? Surely it has to get tiring before the first disc is over!" In my opinion, you couldn't be more wrong. Perhaps with less experienced improvisers or musicians who aren't this comfortable playing together, but these three really mesh at the atomic level. Everyone's pretty equally represented here, and they develop the improvs together rather than the rhythm section following the lead instrument. With musicians like Mitsuru and Yasuhiro comprising the rhythm section though, there isn't really any standout lead instrument. They're both very active on their respective instruments.

Buying this album may be somewhat of a gamble if you're unfamiliar with the group. It's certainly pricey, and I hesitated with the purchase even being familiar with what kind of music I should expect. Thankfully, I'd say it's worth every penny of the price I paid for it though, and if you are interested in the prospect of three top-notch musicians improvising and enjoying themselves for a couple hours, then I'm fairly confident you'd think it was worth the price of admission as well. Still, my advice is to start with a shorter, less expensive album (personal recommendation is 4), and if that goes well for you then consider this one. This definitely gets at least four stars for me, possibly an upgrade later.

SaltyJon | 4/5 |


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