Tanya Tagaq – Animism

AnimismWhen asked what can be done with the voice to make music, most people will probably just guess at singing or screaming. There will undoubtedly be a few smart-y pants that bring up scatting and unearth a plethora of bad memories from dusky jazz clubs deep in the heart of Louisiana. Not many people will have even heard of throat singing, let alone be aware of what a unique and powerful tool it is for creating music.

Far from being an obscure art used only in the remotest parts of the world, throat singing is one of the most ancient ways of creating music in the world and is seen in various incarnations across the planet. Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk throat singer from the Northwest Territories of Canada that employs the Inuit variation of this ancient vocal practice. The release of her latest album Animism has earned her the Polaris Music prize and the recognition she deserves.

Animism is her fourth album and it stays true to the raw essence of her previous releases. The album opens on a slightly different pace with “Caribou”, one of the few songs she has released that feature what could be considered ‘regular’ singing. It is definitely an odd pace to start the album on and it lulls the ears into an almost false sense of security. It sounds like it could mark the opening of just another folk album.

It doesn't take long before this façade is shattered however, and the true nature of the album comes into focus. The pace gets picked up through the next few songs and the overall timbre transitions almost seamlessly into a frenzied chant that sounds like it was recorded around a fire to thank the seals for what they have provided in their flesh and skins. This is a very strange feeling for an album to have; it becomes less about music and more about what truly lies at the oldest parts of the human mind and instinct. One of the most exciting things about Tanya's music though, is that she manages to combine this base emotion with enough aspects of modern music that it still holds enough relevance to be accessible by most listeners without getting a bit too real for them.

The only downside to the album is that the production is lacking a little on some of the tracks. Ordinarily this wouldn't really be an issue, but with a voice as distinct and engrossing as this, a lack of fidelity can get in the way of the experience.

With a live show that is just as primal as her recorded offerings and a public presence that has included saying “F*ck PETA” in her Polaris acceptance speech, Tanya Tagaq is certainly an artist that needs to be on the radar of anyone that likes music with strong character behind it.

Release: 26th January 2015, Six Shooter Records

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