TesseracT
Altered State


3.5
great

Review

by zuzek USER (9 Reviews)
May 13th, 2013 | 300 replies | 22,543 views


Release Date: 05/27/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Now in a new flavour: tasty bipolarity!

13 of 13 thought this review was well written

Abisola Obisanya. Dan Tompkins. Elliot Coleman. Yes, Tesseract have been mocked and lamented for the past few years, never seeming to hold a vocalist down long enough to make two releases. The immense switches in style of vocalists led many to believe that the group did not know where it was heading, and was instead doomed to flail its arms around, drowning in a pool of redundancy. Tesseract became the subject of cheap laughs in online communities, with many infuriated and giving up on the band. Regardless, Tesseract did not throw in the towel and instead found a fourth vocalist to front the unit. It turned out their prize, Ashe O’Hara, was hiding right under their noses in a band called Voices From the Fuselage, whose album Acle Kahney (guitar) was producing and mixing. Is Tesseract alive again with offering Altered State?

Young O’Hara has chosen to soar instead of diving deep like his predecessors. Gutturals, screeches and screams are nowhere to be found on Altered State, unlike the bands’ prior releases. This change is generally welcome as O’Hara is a deceptively intimate singer and his approach suits the mellower side of Tesseract better. For fans of the regal qualities of Tompkins, you will not find them here: O’Hara’s voice is more ethereal, expertly and naturally merging with the bands’ newfound, prog-heavy approach. Nevertheless, there are instances that scream for a more feral and primal approach, which O’Hara is unable to offer. O’Hara thus marks one of the records stronger points as well as one of its greater shortcomings, simultaneously. This characterizes Altered State as a whole, as it consistently pulls the listener back and forth between contradicting feelings towards the album.

Kahney’s and Monteith’s static, droning rhythms do not hit home. While the effect-laden melodies in the background effortlessly shape the dreaminess of Altered State, the distorted low end rhythms more often than desired jerk you right back to the engagement process of you as a listener on one side, and the music on another (Of Reality – Palingenesis). It especially throws the middle of the album off balance and it detracts from the beauty that Tesseract do achieve within that same space (Of Mind – Exile). As the mastermind behind the group’s soundscape, Kahney is the culprit of eliciting this uneasiness. Certainly, it is but a choice of approach -fusing guitar, bass and drums into one backbone- but it far from always benefits the context of the songs and where they want to take you (Of Reality – Eclipse). However, when they do manage so, Tesseract write and create with such a sense of ease that one wonders what has been responsible for this degree of maturation in composing (Of Matter – Retrospect).

Much of the clever complexity within Tesseracts music is thanks to Jay Postones’ (drums) and Hugh Grant’s (bass) mastery of their instruments. The facile intricacy that these two men display may well make them one of the better rhythmic duos in modern music and tilts the sound of Tesseract to a new level (Of Energy – Singularity). Offering a helping hand by providing two record highlights is sax player Chris Baretto, whose sultry musings immaculately accentuate the jazzy qualities of Altered State (Of Energy – Embers). While the guitars are thus a shortcoming of the record, every other instrument is perfectly in its uncalculated place. Thriving on this state of natural calmness, when the music feels as if it should have just happened this way, Altered State does reach spaces not many bands are able to achieve.

It is an odd, disconnecting place to be in as a listener when feelings of itching frustration and pensive immersion consistently substitute one another throughout the record. Collectively, Tesseract are struggling with form rather than identity. It is one matter to find your niche, but to be able to call it home is quite another. Altered State is in a sense quite the oddity: on the one hand it brings a refining maturity to Tesseracts signature sound, but on the other an unwelcome simplification of it. Whether or not you are able to dismiss this frustrating lapse of judgment when it rears its head, Altered State is unequivocally worth your time for the interspersed moments of brilliance and genuine musical achievement. Two questions remain to be answered: do Tesseract now understand where they are heading, and will the next release astoundingly manage to include O’Hara?



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user ratings (524)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Drummerboy123
May 13th 2013



2165 Comments


"Hugh Grant’s (bass)"

Nice joke.

Good review. Though I personally don't agree with some of it being a fanboy and all.

zuzek
May 13th 2013



748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

From a general perspective this is on the upside of a 3.5, but personally a 4. It won't be everyone's cuppa, but it's well worth a spin to find out whether it is.

DropdeadWHA
May 13th 2013



545 Comments


Good review, although you don't need to bold the album name constantly, just once will do.

MO
May 13th 2013



17357 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

definitely not digging the new flavour

Digging: Soundtrack - Turok 2: Seeds of Evil OST

zuzek
May 13th 2013



748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know of your likings MO, though I respectfully disagree. This is a good piece of work despite its shortcomings, and while not as dark, an immeasurably more mature record than "One" was.

Good idea Dropdead, changed it. Thanks for the tip.

DanielNightLewis
May 13th 2013



525 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Some of the wording in the review feels a bit clumsy to me, but that may well just be a tired set of eyes reading it.

I was lucky enough to see Tesseract with their first vocalist, he was really good. This release, though complex and proggy, sounds the way I would expect a band trying to escape the trappings of the "djent" genre to sound. It's just monotonous under the textures, I'm currently at a 2.5 with this but I am hoping it will click with another listen.

MO
May 13th 2013



17357 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

werd

solid review as well zuz

zuzek
May 13th 2013



748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Let me know what irks you DNL. I'm not a native speaker.

Thanks MO.

DanielNightLewis
May 13th 2013



525 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Zuzek, something like "This is characterizing for the album as a whole, as it consistently pulls the listener back and forth between opposing contradictions" may read better as:

"This characterizes for the album as a whole, as it consistently pulls the listener back and forth between contradicting feelings towards the album"

As on the second part where you state "opposing contradictions" is sort of like saying the "negating negatives" in the way I read it, but as I said my reading may be a case of extreme tiredness as I have only had 3 hours sleep!

Otherwise I thought the review flows in a logical order and you justify your rating (while I disagree with the end value :P ).

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2013



19510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

chris baretto on sax? wasn't that the dude from periphery?

solid review btw

Digging: Cult Leader - Nothing for Us Here

KILL
May 13th 2013



67082 Comments


worst

band

ever

Cygnatti
May 13th 2013



19981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

damn

Digging: Lo-Fang - Blue Film

demigod!
May 13th 2013



40970 Comments


Band is lame agreed

KILL
May 13th 2013



67082 Comments


:/

Cygnatti
May 13th 2013



19981 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

djent
nuff said.

KILL
May 13th 2013



67082 Comments


vermicide WILL make a funny post one day, it has to happen!

JS19
May 13th 2013



3629 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hate the word 'djent'.

Digging: The Dillinger Escape Plan - Calculating Infinity

zuzek
May 13th 2013



748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kill WILL make a good rating one day, it has to happen too!

Oh and yeah, Baretto used to sing for Periphery. He does now for Ever Forthright and The Haarp
Machine. Laid down a sax solo live for Monuments a while back, pretty solid skills with the brass.

Archael
May 13th 2013



25 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I dunno, his rants always seem pretty funny to me.

LunaticSoul
May 13th 2013



136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hating on Tesseract is the new trend.

Can't either pos or neg (despite being well written) the review as I find myself disagreeing with too
many points and I feel like many of these points were thrown out just for the sake of being critical.

Digging: Animals As Leaders - The Joy of Motion



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