Looking and seeing the world move around you can prompt some crazed, often erratic thoughts to enter the mind. A constant state of melancholy and delirium set in. Fits of rage and a mature form of angst wear on you like those Vans that have just the right amount of dirt on them to appear aesthetically pleasing. But sometimes you must look into the stars and just groove…
It’s hard to listen to Turnstile‘s new releaseTime and Space and not take some type of historical music standpoint. It feels like this could be historical, but it is becoming systematical in the sense of experimentation. The group is bred in hardcore but has officially put the genre on its back and are taking it for a wild ride. In this instance, a concise 25-minute journey through Time and Space.
In the 1970’s & 80’s, CBGB was a venue in NYC that set the emergence of punk rock, punk, and new wave. In response to the popularity and commercialization of punk, hardcore was created as a DIY movement to come against “the man”. CBGB became a mecca for hardcore/hardcore punk. An aggressive, hostile, and deplorable reaction to the scene has been seen, observed, or spoke upon over the years, and this is a genre that is unwelcoming to those who don’t know the “ropes”. A lot of groups came and went over the years. Some are still around touring, but most have never seen the consistency that swept them off into major success or snagging a big record deal. Some of those notably performed at CBGB in their hay-day such as Sick Of It All, H2O, Madball, Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, Terror, and more. The remarkable thing is that Turnstile had an original presence with their inception in 2011 like any of these groups did. Their first LP Nonstop Feeling in 2015 showed they were capable of bending rules, but the band learned how to evolve and break hardcore’s rules on this latest release. Where those existing groups have laid the groundwork, Turnstile sets the bar for new fun with all the bells and whistles.
Opening track ‘Real Thing’ reminds you of the Turnstile many have grown to love. Guitarists Pat McCrory and Brady Elbert come packing a punch right along with Daniel Fang coming in all brawny on the drums. Brendan Yates (also drummer of Trapped Under Ice) comes in with his shriek-y like yelps, “Can I keep it all together? Waiting for the real thing.” The track pauses midway for a bass line from Franz Lyons and quickly rushes back in to blister you for the rest of the song only ending with what seems to be elevator music. ‘Big Smile’ queues off a yell let off from Brendan and rushes into a midway riff that is very Beach Boys-esqe. From this point, you will have yourself wondering, “wow, how have barely 3 minutes have gone by?” So brief, but unbelievably packed with goodness. Right after you rush into ‘Generator’. It gives midway for a melodic and tranquil moment of instruments and right after coming back into full form shows off Brendan’s clean vocals, “Generator, by my side, push me through the darkest times”. While hardcore is completely known for its brashness related to heavy instrumentals and intense vocals, Turnstile offers their alternative showing that they can break those rules by inserting different elements and lyrics that are susceptible to human weakness. After, ‘Bomb’ is a 25-second interlude which is an R&B snippet from Tanikka Charraé. She has previously collaborated with legendary acts such as Lauryn Hill, J. Cole, The Weeknd, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and more. It is such a perfectly placed part to summarize maybe coming to terms with the end of a relationship or another life circumstance. Without any trace of knowing who Turnstile is, you now see why they are a group about broadening their horizons stylistically wise. Subtle, but noticeable elements let you know Turnstile is here for a change and embrace without losing their OG hardcore fans. ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Blind’ slowly crawls back into where the interlude left off and gets back to where things were. The track also smoothens out momentarily into “oooew oooew ooo oooeeww” harmonies from Brendan right back to harsh vocals. ‘High Pressure’ is a classic hardcore showing from the group with ragtime style piano “plopping” featured to lead into a guitar solo with a nice “two-step” measure. ‘Moon’ features vocals from bassist Franz Lyons which instantly reminded me so much of Howard Jones (formerly of Killswitch Engage). Brendan happens to switch spots with him playing the bass according to the music video. Also, rare for a similar group to pull a “switch-a-roo” of the sort. ‘Right to Be’ is a track that feels like venturing through “time and space”. They seem to be pushing against the current political sphere to say they are like any other hardcore band as well, hating against any form of authoritarian rule. “They want to take!/My right to be!” EDM’s Diplo produces segments of the track to give you the feeling of floating by inserting some abstract space-like sound. I was bewildered as to how he could be a part of any track with Turnstile, but it’s subtly placed and nothing near overdone.
Turnstile is a part of the first hardcore groups who may make prominence in the mainstream rock scene with their major label debut with Roadrunner Records (Division of Warner Music Group). Again, producer Will Yip puts touches on a group that is reforming but given a better production standard. Yip also produced for Grammy nominated, hardcore group Code Orange. Taking a turn in a different direction. It is something I have seen coming for a little while. The New York Times also reviewed the album, but also perfectly summarized how hardcore groups and Soundcloud/clout rappers now have a thin line of relation. It remains to be seen how groups will mesh their sound in the future, but it is looking bright thanks to Turnstile with Time and Space.