There are four different bands named Altered States, listed in order of popularity: a Japanese free/noise jazz / avant-prog group from the 90s, an 80s gothic rock band, a Bass music production trio from Manchester and a psychedelic rock band from Dallas.
1. If pure musicianship is the guiding criterion, Altered States are arguably one of the greatest guitar/bass/drums trios in the history of rock, which may strike some as an overstatement but the evidence is there for anyone willing to seek out the band's Japanese label releases. The trio's music draws from a wide range of influences including progressive rock, jazz-rock, psychedelia, metal, noise rock, electronica, funk, ambient, and even country music. It should also be stated that Altered States are often purely an improvisational group, although they are also known for tightly arranged music on albums such as 1995's landmark Mosaic (featuring many guest artists) and and 1997's 6, as well as scored interludes within extended pieces (e.g, the third untitled track on 1996's 4) that take the listener by surprise; King Crimson from the Starless and Bible Black era catapulted 20 years into the future and with two decades of musical advancement might be one way to perceive what the band is capable of accomplishing.
Vocals are a quite rare occurrence and can take the form of crazy gibberish (Makigami Koichi on Mosaic) or agitated shouts over the top of high-voltage instrumental jamming (4), so if your tastes run to conventional singing and pop song structures, you are out of luck with Altered States, and would likely conclude that the group has no place within a rock pantheon dominated by the likes of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. And yet when it comes to technical chops, skilled use of digital-era effects, telepathic interplay, masterful use of wide dynamic ranges and interludes of space, and the building of tension and release of fearsomely explosive energy, Altered States have few peers. If they had a few hit singles to their credit, perhaps the world might view them differently.
According to the cover of their 2005 double-CD set Bluffs, Altered States have been around since 1989, but some band biographies place the time and place of the group's inception as 1990 in Osaka. Guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi was in a jazz and improvisational group formed by drummer Yasuhiro Yoshigaki, and the two established Altered States with bassist Mitsuru Nasuno — they originally played in jazz clubs but apparently found the jazz genre an ill fit for their exploratory style, and therefore chose to pursue a more rock-oriented direction. Jazz purists would undoubtedly be repelled by the notion that jazz musicians could find rock a more productive avenue for musical expression, but perhaps Kazuhisa, Yasuhiro, and Mitsuru were merely following in the footsteps of, say, Miles Davis — although of course "true" jazz fans excoriated the legendary hornman for selling out to a commercial rock audience circa Bitches Brew. In contrast, Altered States could never be accused of selling out to that particular crowd (as if they ever had a large jazz fan base from which to sell out to a larger rock fan base in the first place).
Although most appropriately classified — if classification is even deemed necessary — as a rock band, Altered States have nonetheless never abandoned certain aspects of jazz, most certainly the genre's improvisational emphasis. After a series of scorching avant rock releases during the '90s, at the close of the decade the band even released an album of fractured interpretations of warhorses such as "All the Things You Are," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and "A Night in Tunisia," titled, appropriately enough, Altered States Plays Standards (Eyewill/Highways), complete with retro '60s-styled cover art suggesting a classic release from the heyday of Blue Note or Riverside.
As for "jazz" of more contemporary vintage, they collaborated with Brooklyn reedman and circular breather Ned Rothenberg in 1994 and 1997; Rothenberg is featured on Mosaic and on the 1996 Phenotype release Café 9.15. Jazz is also not off limits to drummer (and trumpeter) Yasuhiro, an ongoing member of anything-goes sonic experimentalist Otomo Yoshihide's New Jazz Quintet and New Jazz Orchestra who appears on such albums as the NJO's 2005 Out to Lunch Eric Dolphy tribute. It should also be noted that forward-thinking jazz festivals in Japan and Europe have not hesitated to include Altered States among their rosters of performing artists. (During the '90s the band also made a number of well-received appearances at international new music festivals such as Tactlos in Switzerland, Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in Quebec, and Ring Ring in Serbia.)
A look back at the band's early recording history reveals that Altered States were apparently together for a couple years following their inception before the release of their eponymous debut on Kazuhisa's Zenbei label in 1992. During the '90s, six more Altered States CDs would be released, not only on Zenbei but also on other independent labels such as God Mountain, Trigram, and the aforementioned Phenotype and Eyewill/Highways. The studio releases Mosaic and 6 are good places to start an investigation of Altered States, but given their dedication to on-the-spot improvisation without reliance on overdubbing, some of the band's most exciting and adventurous music can be heard on such live albums as 1994's Lithuania and Estonia Live, recorded at the Tallinn and Vilnius Jazz Festivals (with Otomo Yoshihide as guest) the preceding year, and 1996's 4, recorded at New York City's Knitting Factory in April 1995. During 1995 the Zenbei label also released a monthly series of videocassettes featuring Altered States in live performance at a variety of locations in Japan, Europe, and the United States, including the Knitting Factory gig. All three members of Altered States were also members of Yoshihide's Ground Zero band during the '90s, and can be heard on such CDs as Consume Red, Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, and yes, Ground Zero's own Plays Standards CD.
Perhaps due to the bandmembers' involvement in various other projects (Kazuhisa in particular is not only a frequent collaborator with international creative improvisers but also organizer of Kobe's Festival Beyond Innocence), Altered States did not release a new CD following their 1999 album of standards until Bluffs in 2005 (on the Innocent Records label, which Kazuhisa established as a replacement for Zenbei), followed comparatively quickly by Bluffs ii in 2006. Both albums feature completely improvised music and (especially the two-CD Bluffs magnum opus) reveal the trio's powers to be undiminished from its peaks of the preceding decade.
2. Altered States appeared in their original form way back in 1986. A dynamic combination of Lancastrian Yig Hughes (vocals & guitar - middle) with east-end of London rhythm section Rob Ryan (bass - left) and Martin Winbury (drums - right) they were soon signed to the Ediesta label - part of the old Red Rhino empire based in York.
With the debut release "Low Life" (12") in 1987, the band soon found themselves adopted by a keen audience looking for something more raw and less-theatrical than many of the other alternative bands around at that time. Altered States live is what they were really about. After having seen a gig, you wondered why any band needed more than three in their line-up. They had a remarkable energy and intensity on stage that transferred remarkably well to vinyl (yes, these are the days before CD !) and had this reputation further enhanced with the release of their first (and only...) album release for Ediesta in 1988 titled "Is Anyone Out There ?"
During this time the band gigged almost constantly around the UK. Unbeknown at the time, they were also gathering a fan-base in Germany and especially Italy, where a number of student radio stations had picked up on "Low Life" and had it top of their charts. About a third of the album went straight into mainland Europe where a mystique started to grow around their sound. The second single was ready to go and was to be re-mixed by Martin Rushent, best known as producer for Human League and Pete Shelley. But the track - "Drowning Children" - never appeared. Red Rhino, in common with the other main indie labels at the time, hit a financial wall and went bust.
The touring continued into 1989 with showcases at the Hammersmith Palais and The Marquee but later that year, with no new label in the offing, Altered States Mk1 retired. You can read more about this band on their web site http://www.altered-states.co.uk/home.htm
3. Altered States - A Dance Music production trio Based in Manchester UK. Fresh, melodic and original Altered States are amassing an ever growing following across a variety of bass music genres.
As well as working with Manchester's premier event and club nights to promote their fast paced, exciting, live Dj appearances, Altered States are Working with a host of artists, musicians and radio stations to share and push their music as far as they can.
Altered States' Releases can be found on iTunes, Beatport and all good other mp3 stores.
Info free downloads and upcoming tunes Available here www.soundcloud.com/asproductions
4. Altered States blend spacey progressive rock, electronic sound scapes and an undertone of psychedelic blues to create a sound that is uniquely their own. Altered States takes inspiration from artists such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Tool, The Mars Volta and Led Zeppelin.
Formed in Dallas, TX in late 2010 over a few beers and a mutual passion for playing music, Altered States is a collective of musicians with contrasting styles.
Combining their diverse musical tastes, celestial ideals, and love for the last real frontier they create thought evoking soundscapes that draw you in measure by measure. Layered with meaningful lyrics referencing past memories and visions, intricate guitar riffs, thumping bass lines, floating keyboards and hard-hitting drum beats it's no wonder why a wide variety of tastes can appreciate the message. .