It’s apt that I find myself reviewing Turnstile’s second full length nearly four months after its’ initial release. Despite the quick twitch mentality of today’s music journalism, the defiantly unique freakabilities that run rampant throughout “Time And Space” demand just that… adequate time and space for digestion. The LP demands distance, deliberation, engagement, and time away. As is often the case, my favorite LP’s are oftentimes born of disappointment. Following a cursory listen hours after its’ release, I found myself scrambling for 2015’s classic and immediate Nonstop Feeling. Alas, months later, I find myself scrambling to define a perfect 25 minute slab of furiously creative hardcore that threatens to dissolve genres at every turn.
photo: Angela Owens
To the uninitiated, their rise may seem deceptively meteoric and sudden. As a Baltimore resident, however, I can attest to their genuine “sweat equity”, as they’ve taken the long road from the basements, punk houses and art spaces of Charm City. Though they’ve swapped the floor for the sold-out stages, they’ve paid dues longer than most ever exist. At times, they’ve done it while in a litany of various bands, some hardcore-adjacent and some of indescribable adventure.
photo: Angela Owens
Alongside Roadrunner labelmates Code Orange, Turnstile have arrived at a tipping point that, to me, echoes the explosion of “The Year Punk Broke.” Though continents away sonically, I return to the touchstone of seminal 90’s punk bands with songs too big and infectious to be corralled by a given scene. I’ve heard it posited that they’ve become their namesake… an entry point and logical place to begin their journey into the world of hardcore. They’re warm, progressive, and inviting. Turnstile are the band we all need. Remaining within the rigid confines of traditional hardcore and it’s tropes is a near impossibility, instead begging to be heard en masse. “Time and Space” is simultaneously taut and expansive, somehow finding new ways to rewrite canon. Still backloaded with furious grooves, breakdowns, and myriad recognizable hardcore signifiers, the success of the album lies in its’ defiant newness. Though still very much a hardcore record, “Time and Space” hits you with the changes right away. Within the first 10 minutes, Turnstile throws confident curveballs that include but certainly aren’t limited to handclaps, sugary “uh-huhs” as backing vocals, a chill-wave DipLo collaboration and frenetic piano riffs accenting the backbeat. You can’t make this shit up.
Producer du jour Will Yip’s ability to capture live energy is again exemplified here. Very much a live band,Turnstile has built their fanbase on earnestly festive live shows… transcendently aware parties if you will. Yip somehow manages to capture the manic spectacle of their live show and a band brimming with tricks requiring studio savvy.
The truly fascinating part of Turnstile’s narrative lies in what’s ahead. They’ve taken hardcore to places we didn’t think possible… the cover of Spin, anyone? I’m ecstatic to think of the possibilities after “Time and Space.” At times, it almost feels as if multiple albums and bands are playing at once. The backbone is, and will likely always be hardcore, but I hear hints of everything from the Jupiter-era Cave in tinged “Moon” to every rad 90’s alternative rock band we’ve collectively forgotten.
After giving Turnstile both the time and space to step away and create, they penned a fucking classic. The LP is both the journey and the destination.