Written By: Mike O’ Cull
Originality: (5 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5 / 5) Lyrics: (5 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (5 / 5)
Quantum Tangle is likely to be the most original new band you discover this year. Comprised of two Native musicians based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, the group makes music that fuses a folk/world/rock sound with traditional Inuit throat singing and melodies, indigenous legends, spoken-word storytelling, and the deepest sub-Arctic blues ever heard. Guitarist/vocalist Grey Gritt and and singer/storyteller Tiffany Ayalik blend cultures, genders, and amazing songs on their new release Shelter as We Go… almost beyond recognition and that seems to be the point. The elements go together so well that the record becomes one long meditation on commonality and the human condition.
Both Gritt and Ayalik are great in their own ways but are an ice-melting fire when combined. Under it all, they are singer/songwriters and, as such, rise and fall on the strength of their writing skills. No amount of vibe or atmosphere will make up for lame songs and that is happily not the case here. The first track, “Tiny Hands,” is worth the price of admission all on its own. It’s an absolutely haunting bit of north woods magic that gets at least four distinct cultural influences overlapping at once and is one of the most profoundly human-feeling pieces of music you’ll ever encounter. These two are cultural appreciators, not appropriators, and boldly mix anything and everything that they feel in a smooth and natural way. Other standout cuts are “Igluvut” and “Love Is Love Pt 1.”
The future of music will be created by the kind of creative bravery shown by Quantum Tangle on this record. No one will ever best the Old Masters at the old styles, writing better blues than Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters, better folk than Guthrie or Dylan, or better hip hop than Public Enemy. Rather, the New Greats will be the artists with the vision to find the emotional connections that run through the past and add their own 21st Century selves to them. Quantum Tangle is doing just that on Shelter as We Go…, proving that many traditional ways still have relevance today and that not all modern music is tossed-off mass-produced fluff. This album demands to be judged on its artistic and emotional merits, as well as its uniqueness. Gritt and Ayalik are the real thing and will become an influence, themselves, to the next generation if they keep making music like this.