Multitudes III is the most joyous, experimental release from Delta Will thus far.
I like to imagine Charles Tilden’s output as Delta Will as a multiverse. No two releases have been exactly the same, and his Multitudes triptych (as Tilden likes to call it) is a testament to the fluidity of his musical identity. What started as a one-man-band blues/pop act has morphed into something grand and collaborative, an amalgam of soul, left-field pop, and psychedelia. Two years after Tilden’s last stroll through the multiverse — examining a universe where Delta Will was a chamber-folk outfit — Multitudes III is not only a full album rather than EP, but it’s also the most joyous, experimental release from Delta Will thus far.
There are grooves to be found nearly everywhere you look. The soulful bass and key flourishes in “Kindling” go down easy, as do Tilden’s lines, like “be true to your animal.” There are many twists and turns to “Any Body,” channelling the complexity of Radiohead’s King of Limbs in its grooves at times, but other times harkening back to Multitudes II with key flourishes that sound like strings. The aptly named “Float Point” is music that makes you feel airborne.
There’s a tangible later-career Radiohead influence on several songs here, which isn’t entirely surprising considering Tilden’s membership in a Radiohead tribute band. There’s more drum machine than live drums backing these songs, and the grooves are complex and unpredictable. Though the sounds aren’t an absolutely radical departure from what Delta Will has done before, the songs yell outward rather than reflect inward. As we near the end of the pandemic, I sense we’re going to hear a lot more celebratory music all around, and there’s no shortage of emotional bursts and swells throughout Multitudes III.
Take “Omen”; a bouncing beat anchors an otherwise calm song, but before long we latch onto the story of a person calling out to an as-yet-unborn descendent. What should be chilling words become the first of many moments of celebration: “Grandchild, you came out to my grave.” There’s a swell of romance in “Passing Thing,” culminating in the unflinchingly sincere line, “You make my heart stutter and dance.” At one point Tilden sings, “I am of a wilder hue,” and it feels like a phrase made for a silk-screen-printed t-shirt. Where in Multitudes II we had “Healing Sun,” Multitudes III features just “The Sun,” an ode to that life-giving star of ours.
In a comic-book-style multiverse, there are potentially hundreds or thousands of different universes out there, and Delta Will feels like they could exist in different iterations in every one of them. Who knows what’ll happen next time we dive deeper into the Deltaverse?