Tanya Tagaq “Retribution”

Tanya Tagaq by Katrin-Braga

Tanya Tagaq’s latest album Retribution will be a defining album for Canada’s most original and integral modern artist. Not only does it occupy untouched spaces of sonic fury and guttural beauty but its’ message and mood will become woven into our history.

How the Canadian Government and the citizens of this country handle climate change and reconciliation will be a weight on the backs of future generations–so long as we get there–for hundreds of years.

Justin Trudeau has announced the approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project. Accommodating and consulting First Nations is all the government is required to do when planning major projects like these but according to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr they do not need “free prior and informed consent.”

It is likely the pipelines will be met with noisy protest from Coast Protectors, enough to halt the process entirely.

I’d like to suggest that Coast Protectors, and all Canadians really, take the call to action at the heart of “Retribution” and the song itself as an anthem and mission statement of their fight.  

“Retribution” moves with a focused propulsion that is simultaneously calming and energizing ; perhaps ‘calmly energized’ is the right mindset for protesters and activists to have, at least to start.  

The mantra during its’ introduction speaks directly to the effect money and oil production and relocation have had on Mother Earth. “We squander her soil and suck out her sweet, black blood, burn it. We turned money into God and salivate over opportunities to crumple and crinkle our souls for that paper, that gold. Money has spent us.”

“Demand awakening” from those who don’t see how this would profoundly affect future generations of Canadians both environmentally and on the path to reconciliation.

As “Retribution” reaches its climax and Tagaq lets out her final cry, there is such a satisfying release that it clears your mind, makes you see things clearly and makes you want to stand up for the future.

Take Tanya Tagaq’s art to heart.  Let it inspire you to look at things differently. “Ignite. Stand upright. Conduct yourself like lightening because the retribution will be swift.”

The Jerry Cans “Ukiuq” / “Northern Lights”

The Jerry Cans, Iqaluit, NT
The Jerry Cans

In the first blog post on DOMINIONATED, I threw out this idea of Canadian music being ‘multitimbral’. Hoping it’s hashtag-readiness would stick to the conversations we hoped to be having, it was the best I could do to sum up the breadth and expanse of where Canada is heading musically in its 150th year.

Nunavut’s The Jerry Cans embody the idea of multitimbralism better than any band we’ve covered yet. Based in Iqaluit, their blend of traditional folk, alt-country, throat-singing, and reggae influences goes down like an ice-chilled smoothie of exotic flavours. Individual ingredients trigger different sensations. What seem like unusual combinations at first reveal unexpected pleasures on “Ukiuq” and its English version, “Northern Lights”.

The Jerry Cans let both their lyrics and music engage in a delicate dance across the two versions, capturing the natural/supernatural experience of the aurora borealis in song. Lyrical references to traditional ballad “Scarborough Fair” notwithstanding, “Ukiuq” / “Northern Lights” is a modern and magical reminder of the beauty and wonder that’s waiting for us when we look away from our technology. Look out from our insular world. Look up to the sky.

Silla + Rise, Debut

Silla + Rise, Debut

Long before Justin Trudeau’s team even began planning for his swearing in ceremony, Tanya Tagaq changed the conversation around Inuit throat singing for indigenous and non-indigenous people alike. For one thing, Tagaq performs it alone rather than as part of a duo. For another, she throat sings while covering Pixies. Like A Tribe Called Red, Tagaq embeds contemporary cultural references into her own traditions, creating a new context for both to exist in.

Inuit based throat singers Cynthia Pitsiulak and Charlotte Qamaniq are also part of this conversation. Working together as Silla, the duo lays down their hypnotic, hyper-active vocal exchanges amongst the minimalist electronic beats of Ottawa based producer and DJ Rise Ashen. As Silla + Rise, the trio breathes new life and fresh air into house music’s stale, staid scene, reconnecting the synthetic beats and blips of the nightclub scene to humanity through the juxtaposition of Pitsiulak and Qamaniq’s syncopated interplay. Their performance is the heartbeat at the core of Debut, the trio’s name-your-price, free download LP released earlier this year.

Amidst the laid back, lounge-like vibe of some tracks, there’s an immediate sense that Silla + Rise want to be more than just background music for dimly-lit, downtown fashion boutiques and hipster artisanal barbeques. By its very nature, throat singers deliver a tension-filled, push-pull performance, and Pitsiulak and Qamaniq (who started performing together as Tumivut before becoming Silla) capture the playful spirit of the tradition while adding sleek, seductive nuances to their performance that dances in perfect synchronicity to Ashen’s production work.

Debut is more than just the first footsteps of a new musical collaboration; it is a new branch on an ever-diversifying musical tree that’s taken root, already bearing delicious, delectable, delightful fruit.