reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
The stakes were set high for Quantum Tangle’s full-length release Shelter as we go… The album is built on the duo’s 2016 JUNO winning EP, Tiny Hands, and extrapolates on a foundation of blues and folk melodies that bounce off traditional throat singing lines. This is work that creates themes of safe spaces, and Quantum Tangle warm the album with a gentleness that often wraps around you like a hug: fight songs with a steady hand pushed onward by a turbulent indigenous history.
Shelter as we go… swoops between intimacy and grandness. Perhaps this comes from the inherent closeness and emotional spark of a two-person creative team — Tiffany Ayalik and Grey Gritt met years ago performing in separate fields but knew they had an artistic connection — or perhaps the unity is the result of Gritt’s handling of the production. Whatever chemistry is lighting the fire, Quantum Tangle never close themselves off, and stay inviting throughout the record.
One of the strengths of the album is the transition from lyrical, narrative tracks in the first half to mostly-instrumental breaks that flavour the second. In each song, throat singing has a moment in the spotlight and creates landscapes out of layers — from its understated position on “Tiny Hands” to the primary percussion on “Igluvut” — and this grows as the album progresses. The segue between “Love is Love Pt. 1” and “Love is Love Pt. 2” is keenly noted by Ayalik’s slide from sweet vocal storyteller to a creator of ambiance heard most fervently in “Ikersuaq”. Gritt brings a blues background that gives tracks like “Love is Love Pt. 1” a catchy thump and soul-baring rawness.
There is also darkness on the album. “Freeze Melt Boil” is an album highlight with industrial percussion and Gritt’s rattling voice. The track was born from frustration over pipelines and you can hear the agitation. “Don’t ask questions, don’t ask why. Just accept and don’t even try. When the old ways burn and die. Embrace the new norm no need to try.” It’s a heavy and necessary angle on an album that embraces lightness, and the sound matches the mood with careful intention.
Understanding the powerful nature of the album’s opening track, Quantum Tangle include a reimagined version of “Tiny Hands”. The second play is darker, more acoustic, and brings a lyrical prowess back to the forefront. Instead of bookending the album, the choice is made to give the conclusion to Ayalik’s eight year old cousin as she throat sings. Gritt’s production has the vocalizing fill the room for a powerful end, and we feel included in the sounds of love and community between the two singers.
Top Tracks: “Freeze Melt Boil”; “Tiny Hands”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *Swoop*