Album Review: Tanya Tagaq's Throaty, Grunting 'Animism'
I am almost out of fresh descriptive words to effectively reference Tanya Tagaq, the artist and her newest album Animism -- however, being a poet of some renown, I rise to the challenge here.
It's as if Icelandic vocalist Bjork played surrogate to the fertilized Inuit seed of trash movie director John Waters and German New Wave Queen Nina Hagen. That offspring was then sent to the Alice Cooper Finishing School where she graduated with honors in Music-based Performance (Art).
Always one to surprise and delight, Tanya opens her eleven- track album with a "song" complete with melody and voice and lyrics. The track, titled "Caribou" is cinematic music, evoking herds of wild caribou galloping over raw northern tundra. Caribou is the candy that lures the listener and prepares them for the wilder ride ahead.
She found the right Daddy to father her fourth record-baby. Long time stage and recording collaborator and Animism producer Jesse Zubolt has a keen sense of how to best enhance and at the same time harness the talents we have come to know as distinctive Tagaq. Not an easy job by any means, but Zubolt combines instinct and musical training to its fullest.
Using one-word verbs or nouns for the majority of her tracks, Tagaq creates a playlist that honors her Inuit heritage, the land, the animals, and all earthly things containing spirit or life -- as the album title Animism suggests. And, as anyone who has had the opportunity to witness this artist in action/performance will tell you, Tanya is the embodiment of a great life lived freely opening all her energy centers in a sacrificial offering for her audiences. On that note, Tanya dedicates this album Animism (Life) to all the missing and murdered indigenous women. “Love, Light and Revolution.”
The track "Tulugak" made me shake my head in amazement. Throaty, grunting, rhythmic breaths, sewn together in perfect syncopated musical beats, reach into our primal centres and forces the body to nod in unison. How can she write music like that? It can only be captured by luck. But the track that will absolutely floor you is the last track in the collection, titled "Fracking." Here Tanya assumes the point of view of an Earth (this Earth) that is being violently violated. She moans in pain, she screeches in agony and somehow, magically, the artistic quality of this track remains intact. If ever there was an environmental anthem for the times, "Fracking" has nailed it.
Animism has already been nominated to the Polaris Prize long list and there will be many more nods and awards to come. We are ready for you Tanya! And we thank you for your beautiful musical bravery.
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