When unconsciousness Alters dreams

Somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness, dreamy hallucinations and memories, Alters creates a psychedelic world coloured by vintage guitars and synths sounds adorned with historical instruments

Hi guys. Can you please introduce the Alters project to our readers?

Paweł: ALTERS is a progressive/post-rock band from Warsaw, Poland. It consists of three people. Myself, my high-school friend Robert and my brother Piotr. In ALTERS we like to combine vintage guitars, psychedelic of the 70s, synth sounds of the 80s with modern electronic music, historic instruments and original visuals. As a result we usually create multipart compositions interspersed with songs and solo etudes.

Robert: It’s basically a clash of our music interests and backgrounds. Paweł and Piotr are classically educated multi-instrumentalists and music producers. One day they can play on the big rock festival with artists of the independent music scene just to join the orchestra of National Opera for some Stravinsky on the next day. They are also specializing in the historical performance of renaissance and baroque music playing viola da gamba or lute.
I, on the other hand, have graduated from Design Faculty of Academy of Fine Arts where I am currently Deputy Head of the department. Professionally I work as an industrial designer and run my own studio. As a drummer, I know how to play drums, and that’s why I recorded with death metal bands before Alters. But I’ve been interested in experimental music and since high school and it’s then when I started to mix with a bad crowd of kids from music school.

Piotr: We like to think of particular albums as concept-projects with its own story, theme, atmosphere. When we create a concept-album, reference to our progrock masters from 70s, we want to bring the same story to the concert. That’s why we collaborate with other artists to create a sort of a bigger experience to the whole thing. We are lucky to work with talented people and as the result these works sometimes draw bigger attention. Like our music video “Dawn” (directed by Piotr Smoleński) nominated on four international film festivals or winning the first price for visuals (by Osmo Nadir, our visual magician) on Audiowizje Festival.

Alters’ new album “Dawn” will be released by the French label Musea Records the 15th of September 2017: tell us something about this exciting release.

Piotr: “DAWN” is an album which we prepared for quite a long time. Some general ideas and first recordings have been made even few years ago. But it needed some time and we didn’t want to rush it.

Paweł: It consists of 7 tracks closed in the hour-long concept album. General inspiration for this album was a dichotomy of different states: consciousness and unconsciousness, dream and being awake, night and day, what’s already real and what is not. “Dawn” can be partly psychedelic and trippy and it tells a story about dreams, hallucinations and memories but once in a while it turns to be serene, soft and very melodic. Alongside the electronics, guitars and drums we used some less typical acoustic period instruments such as viola da gamba, lute or saz.
As for the concept angle of this album, it has been developed in cooperation with Margarita Slepakova who is responsible for the whole “story in the background” of this album. She wrote all the lyrics for “Dawn” but also produced the music video, co-created our visuals for Audiowizje Festival and supervised the whole concept design of the album in general.

How do you compose and where do you get inspiration for your music?

Robert: We meet in our studio and just improvise. That’s how the most interesting parts of our music appear. They just pop up into our heads on the spot and because we are so much used to play together it just clicks. Motive proposed by one person is undertaken right away by others and before we know we have a new piece of music which changes when someone proposes something else.  We try to record all the rehearsals so we can choose the most interesting parts from improvisation and develop those particular ideas on the next rehearsal.

Piotr: Yes, and it’s funny how, after all this time, usually we are able to feel when one improvised motive would end and would be replaced by another one. So we conclude previous movement in total synch and also together move on to the next one without showing anything.

Paweł: But we also talk of what we dreamed about that night and try to bring it into the music. In that sense our improvisations are often an actual interpretation of our dreams.

Which artists have influenced your style & sound, if any?

Piotr: For sure we are influenced by classics of progrock: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, psychedelic albums of Beatles (like Sgt Pepper), first albums of Pink Floyd as well as groups such as Radiohead, Justice, Moderat.

Paweł: I would also list J. S. Bach as classic progrocker. Just take St. Mathew’s Passion. Or Marin Marais!

Robert: We also don’t forget about Polish progrock groups from 70s such as SBB. They were quite big in Europe back then. And Todays inspirations would be Mars Volta, Muse, The Flaming Lips. And I still have a soft spot for polish technical death metal bands like Decapitated.

What about your next shows?

Paweł: On 15th of September we play album release concert in Warsaw – our hometown. And already on the next day we play in Berlin and then in Poznań. And for a later fall we plan a tour in Scandinavia: Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Osmo Nadir will be joing us for all the concerts and will be responsible for visuals and stage design.


What do you think about the European progressive scene today?

Robert: What you would call a progressive rock Today doesn’t have much to do with the music played by ELP or SBB in past. Todays progrock groups seem to be more metal oriented in my opinion. And I’m talking both about sound and composition. What we try to do is to combine oldschool sound of original instruments from 70s with some new electronic toys. But regarding composition our pieces have often classical form of suites interrupted from time to time with a song.

What’s the coolest live act in Warszawa?

Robert: Just one? Ok, who wants to start?

Piotr: Moderat in club Progresja in 2016.

Paweł: Tamikrest, Algerian desert blues.

Robert: Oresteia by Iannis Xenakis in National Opera.


What’s the best live music show you’ve seen recently?

Paweł: Radiohead at the Openair Festival 2017 in Gdynia. We saw it together.

Tell us something about your best and your worst memory on the road.

Robert: Well, I think I should start here. Because I drive 27 year old Saab 900 my best memory on the road is in the same time the worst one. I remember the time I bought my car in Göteborg and it broke down 200 km later in the middle of the night in the woods when I was driving it back home. It was January in Sweden and it was likely to freeze to death without your engine on. I walked down the road and after a while I entered a small village and knocked on the door of the first house I reached. The old guy who opened the door turned out not only to be a car mechanic but he was actually specialized in oldtimer Saabs! Now we seriously consider to go on our Sweedish tour by Saab, though with all our stuff we would need three of them…

Paweł: Yes! With our names on each of them! Like Emerson, Lake and Palmer!

Piotr: (…sigh)

What do you think of Livetrigger.com?

Paweł: We think it’s awesome! Nowadays despite highly developed social media, it’s still not easy for music groups to reach people who might be interested in their music. Especially groups playing music which is not so easy classified or not perfectly suited for “3,3 min radio scheme”. Live Trigger brings together bands, venues and people who want to listen. This kind of meeting points are really important. You’re doing a great job, guys!