Yellowknife's Quantum Tangle (guitarist/singer Greyson Gritt and throat singer/storyteller Tiffany Ayalik) are celebrating the launch of their hot-off-the-press debut album, Shelter As We Go (on Rae Spoon's Coax label) with shows all weekend at the Northern Lights Festival.
The duo played an impressive mini-set Thursday night (July 6) on the Main Stage and at first, this Saturday set (July 8) seemed to be an identical reprise of it: starting with "Tiny Hands," about their grandparents, and on to "Igluvut," a song about Igloos, having a home that keeps moving with you. They then played "Love Is Love," which they composed for a couple that wanted to have a destination wedding in Yellowknife; "I think you forget that I love you," the two sang soulfully, making for a soul-folk tune blended with a traditional Inuit throat singing song called "The Love Song."
Gritt and Ayalik have a pretty vocal blend together, but their songs didn't really prepare the crowd for the shocker that came next: Ayalik, who until that point had been using her looping pedal to harmonize with herself and create rhythm tracks by throat singing, shifted to recording spoken word segments from both her and Grey (Gritt goes by Grey usually), recreating the cacophony of invasive questioning Indigenous people face. It was provocative and it was effective. Then, as Grey was tuning a guitar, Ayalik took the audience on a moving trip to her childhood; to an experience she had alone one morning at a hunting camp on the Tundra, running away from her dad and the other adults and opening her eyes to realize she was face to face with a baby caribou.
Gritt and Ayalik not only traversed the space between native and settler, masculine and feminine (and non-binary); they also occupied a middle ground between music and spoken word that was fascinating.