Following her Polaris Prize winning album ‘Animism’ Tanya Tagaq appeared in numerous (Fucked Up, July Talk, etc.). However, any notion that she was cashing in on her celebrity and resting on her laurels was quickly dispelled with the release of her new album. Turns out ‘Retribution’ is just as daring, visceral and uncompromising — in fact, even more so on every count.
Of course the central theme comes from a sense of frustration with Canada’s glacial process of “reconciliation”. In her anger and hurt Tagaq (like many aboriginal people in this country) is seeking retribution, and these emotions are translated into the music through her idiosyncratic throat singing. But it isn’t just a lament or even an expression of protest (although it is both of those things) because she infuses spiritualism into the mix to create a potent sound that both explores human emotion and transcends it.
Additional musical colour comes courtesy of violinist Jesse Zubot and percussionist Jean Martin (among several other session musicians), who together provide a jazzy, avant-garde canvas for Tagaq to work with. And work she does as she tackles both universal issues like environmental degradation and highly personal matters such as childhood abuse (Tagaq chooses to cover Nirvana’s “Rape Me” as the closing number). To honest, however, you do not need to be familiar with any of the issues being touched upon because the emotions expressed (with her singing, spoken word and especially through throat singing) are raw and undeniable and anyone can feel their power.