Canadian scientists recently found the so-called “lost” Franklin expedition in the Arctic. Turns out, it was exactly where the Inuit have been saying it was, all along. Who would have thought?
Who would have thought that, if we had only listened to these ingenious navigators and survivors, we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of foolishness?
If you would like to know how our culture needs to find its way in the 21st century, I would suggest that you save yourself a lot of trouble, and listen to Tanya Tagaq’s album Animism.
Animism is a masterpiece because it transcends opposites. Dizzyingly complex and sophisticated in structure, it also completely hits you in your guts, in your soul.
It takes traditions that are tens of thousands of years old, and makes truly innovative music, music that could not have existed without Tagaq and her brilliant collaborators, violinist Jesse Zubot, drummer Jean Martin and DJ Michael Red.
The innovation on Animism is an argument not for moving beyond, but for putting more emphasis on the value and necessity of the traditions. The rootedness is where the newness of the record comes from. That will not be a contradiction for you, if you listen properly.
Animism seamlessly uses the technology of the digital recording studio to make an encyclopedic argument for the natural world. In fact, it will erase from your mind the notion of human artifice and nature as opposites. If you listen.
If you listen, you will careen through a panorama of the contradictions of existence. You can hear the living land, and the land under assault. You can hear children being born and conceived. You can hear the torture of the innocent, and the glory of the tenacious, unstoppable force of life. If you listen you can actually hear the sound of a people defying genocide to rise, wounded but alive, strong, and ready to fight.
There is no artist working today more emphatically herself, more incomparable than Tagaq. There is no musician in this world more powerful. Animism is the album that finally translates her unique power to the recording studio.
Can you hear it? If not, try listening some more. You’ll find it, eventually. I hope that in this instance, it takes people less than 170 years.
— Geoff Berner
Animism has received major critical praise and attention in Canada. The album won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, a prestigious annual award (based on the UK’s Mercury Prize) that judges albums based on “the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history.” Tanya’s unforgettable gala performance and acceptance speech have further amplified the impact of this win, and her victory has been heralded a turning point in Canadian music and culture. Animism has also been nominated for in “Pushing the Boundaries” and Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year categories from the Canadian Folk Music Awards (winners have not been announced at this time).
Polaris Music Prize (2014)
“Tungijuq” Western Music Awards (2010)
Best Short Drama
“Tungijuq” ImagineNative Film & Media Awards (2009)
Best Album Design
“Auk/Blood” Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (2008)
Best Female Artist
Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (2005)
Best Album Design
“Sinna” Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (2005)
“Sinaa” Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (2005)
“Tagaq projects sounds that carry the imprint of the body’s secret contours and recesses, delving far beyond personal utterance, out beyond human identity, to summon voices from the flesh cavity haunts of animal spirits and primal energies.” —THE WIRE, UK
“Calling Tanya Tagaq an Inuit throat singer is like calling Yo-Yo Ma a cello player. Sure, it’s accurate, but it’s not the whole of what he does. Like Ma, Tagaq is the best of what she does — innovative, inspired.” —THE NATIONAL POST, CANADA
“… [Tagaq] made it (Inuit throat singing) sound fiercely contemporary, futuristic even. Recalling animal noises and various other nature sounds, she was a dynamo, delivering a sort of gothic sound art while she stalked the small basement stage with feral energy.” —Jon Caramanica, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“… Tagaq rose to the occasion with a performance that was simply elemental. Her approach is essentially abstract …Yet her singing delivered very concrete images of winter storms and summer sunshine, of birth and death and sexual ecstasy, of struggle and survival.” —Alex Varty, THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT,
Review of Jan 30, 2010 performance with Kronos Quartet
“…magnificent, unique, overwhelming life force,” —FROOTS MAGAZINE
“Tanya Tagaq was an absolute standout, The Canadian prowling inside the candle-surrounded circular centre of the mausoleum and proving to be haunting both in breath-taking beautiful and completely terrifying manners, switching almost instantaneously and at times rapidly between high-octave almost operatic melodies and guttural yelps, the venue making it seem ash though she was duetting with herself in some hypnotic demonic dance. Catch her at all costs if you possibly can.” —GLASGOW REVIEW, HAMILTON MAUSOLEUM, GLASGOW
“Quite how one woman sitting with four musicians could create such a visceral image is both baffling and difficult to explain, but this was an exquisitely drawn landscape. And the effect was nothing short of cinematic.” —GLOBE & MAIL, CANADA, (concert review of Tundra Songs with the Kronos Quartet)