by Jim Di Gioia

April 23, 2018

Yellowknife’s Miraj epitomize what it means to live across a spectrum of poles.


To my young and impressionable teenaged mind, the nature versus nurture debate was endlessly fascinating. I vacillated between camps with every point and counterpoint I heard or read. As one-third of a short-lived (and musically-challenged) band, I wrote lyrics to a song called “I Am a Product of My Environment” that, despite the title, never settled on a definitive thesis. Humanity is not predicated on one extreme of the debate or other; we are defined by our genetics as much as our social, cultural, and physical geography.

Harrison Roberts and Sami Blanco of Yellowknife-based live audio/visual project, Miraj, epitomize what it means to live across a spectrum of poles. Witchcraft, Miraj’s latest audio release, seamlessly and suddenly morphs from atmospheric ambient textures to pulsating, hypnotic techno beats in the same way their northern physical world experiences drastic shifts from night and day, from one solstice to another.

“Ethereal” is musical symbiosis, hovering between the heavens and the earth, beats pulsing and flaring in an infinite dance and celebration. “Titan Wind” blurs the line between dub techno and earthy folk song to become a cosmic lullaby. All eight compositions reflect the isolation and self-reliance that comes from living in the expansive taiga of the Northwest Territories in both their finished product and in the way they were performed: improvised in real-time, using analog and digital instruments powered off the grid using car batteries.

Perhaps the most engaging contrast in Miraj’s music is highlighted by Witchcraft’s last track, “Pangea”. Named after the supercontinent that broke apart to create the seven separate continents we all live on today, “Pangea” is a reminder that, although we may live vastly different lives thousands of kilometers apart, we are all bound by a common human nature, our shared need to foster and nurture interpersonal connections, and the undeniable influence of the natural world around us.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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