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Listening Party

Multicult: Spaces Tangled

Three wicked-smart musicians

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Spaces Tangled

Sleeping Giant Glossolalia

Pretty much the entire Internet that is thus far concerned with the band Multicult has concluded that said Baltimore band has everything to do with Big Black, which was the big-time ’90s noise-rock band of the famous producer Steve Albini. At least one guy on the internet (a second-pager, but still) is very concerned about this, to the point of determining that Multicult is not a very good band because it’s not anchored by someone with “indefatigable determination,” like Steve Albini or, perhaps, a World War II general. And it’s true, indefatigable determination could do wonders for Multicult, which could be right now taking Stalingrad or maybe discovering the New World and not making this pointless racket in a “bad noise band.” Oh, internet—the trick for being able to say hilariously dumb shit about music and not get called out for it is to say only good things.

I confess that I didn’t go and listen to a bunch of Big Black before listening to this, despite the many sources of encouragement on the web. But, name aside, Big Black was the band in which Albini wasn’t totally concerned with making noise-rock all that noisy or fuck-all/fuck-you, with some more normal rock stuff and pleasing rhythms, but with frontman Albini sort of setting that off by being a dick (a personality, you see). Multicult’s Nick Skrobisz (of a great many great punk and metal bands over the past decade or so in Maryland, including Carrion and the Wayward) and Rebecca Burchette (Flowers In the Attic) do have another band called Lady Piss that’s pretty harsh and maybe more about being a noise-rock dick. Multicult isn’t so much anti-personality (anti-indefatigable) as it as a band that grew up with, yeah, Big Black but also a whole lot of post-hardcore and jazz and other stuff and decided to write a noise-rock album that actually doesn’t waste any space whatsoever.

On more and more listens, it sounds less and less like Spaces Tangled is trying to pay tribute to anything in particular than three wicked-smart musicians who listen to stuff making an album of disparate influences to interesting effect, almost a jazzy, mathy version of hardcore fed into a noise-rock blast furnace. “Groteske” is even kind of hypnotizing in the way its pissed yet well-lubed top-of-the-mix bass progressions just sort of fall into an artful guitar gnashing (gnashing that’s still somehow playful). Meanwhile, “Zero Effort” cuts a nice grunge figure if only for a rather unexpected vocal shift (bring on the Roomrunner split), while “Hermano” manages to bring Multicult’s three main voices—guitar, bass, drums—that are normally playing/chasing around each other like orbiting electrons into a braid so tight it feels like it’s about to either explode or carve a hole through space-time. The band’s frontman presence might be fatigable—or at least buried and not particularly artful—but you get the sense that’s somewhat the point.

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