Alright folks, hold on to your seats because this one is going to get wild. Allow me to introduce you to Alters, an extremely interesting band from Poland. Nominally, their thing is a blend of progressive rock and post rock. The progressive parts take a very distinct influence from one Steven Wilson, with the opening tracks to their most recent album, Dawn, sounding a lot like Porcupine Tree. “Hypnagogia” and, even more so, the self-titled track which open the album have all the unique identifiers you’d associate with this style of progressive rock. The drums are loud, the vocalist seems aloof and depressed, the guitars are influenced by classic progressive rock but with an exceedingly modern sound. So far, so good; things are pleasant and well made, if not totally original or mind-blowing.
The third track, “Klechdawa”, starts in the same manner. Indeed, it goes on in that manner until its mid-point. But then, there’s a break and everything changes. When the music returns, it’s an incredibly electronic, ushered in with a few distorted synth notes that remind us of 65daysofstatic. But even that comparison quickly breaks apart as “Klechdawa” goes full techno, kick drums pummeling you into submission. The next track, “10”, takes these ideas (with electronic pulses constantly flashing in the background) and melds it with the first few tracks. The vibe coming off of this mesh is one of psychedelic rock from the 70’s, intense beats living below frenetic guitar parts.
OK, you might say, this is definitely out there but it’s not that weird. And you’re right, except that up next is an interlude which is all classical strings, composed to a tee. But what does it interlude to? Nothing other than a massive, sprawling, suite called “Lucid Dreaming” (composed of three parts) followed by an exceptional album closer called “Forgotten”. “Lucid Dreaming” takes the classic progressive rock influences that were hinted at in the beginning of the album and turns them up to eleven. Think King Crimson or ELP; loud, loud bass, intricate drums, parts which reprise themselves and lead to more bridges, a spaced out intro, the works. And then “Forgotten”, a romp into territory better occupied by Camel or Yes, with its optimistic vibes, touching vocals and prominent synths and guitars.
Deep breathes; we’re done. This kind of album, which I’d never otherwise hear, is why I keep combing through our inbox. Dawn is an incredibly ambitious release and one which pulls off all its disparate influences into one amazing whole. If you like progressive rock in all its iterations, whether classic or modern, this album has something for you. Oh, did I also mention they have kick ass music videos?