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Archive for the ‘Inuit’ Category

SOUNDTRACKTANYA TAGAQ-Live at Massey Hall (December 1, 2015).

This show begins the third season of Live at Massey Hall.  There are ten episodes in all.  And the first one is with the otherworldly whirlwind of Tanya Tagaq.

Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit singer.  She works with throat singing, but in a new (and somewhat controversial) manner.  She pairs the deep growls and grunts with high-pitched wails.  Her songs become primitive and raw and she seems to become possessed by the music.

This performance is simply amazing–there’s probably been nothing like it.  And what is most remarkable about the performance is that it is all improvised.

But none of this would work if the music were subpar or uninteresting and here’s where she is to be commended for selecting this group of musicians.  Including the 50 voice Element Choir.

Jesse Zubot plays violin like no one else, often as a percussive instrument and with all kinds of effects. Bernard Falaise plays guitars in washes of sound.  he’s also manipulating everything to create otherworldly effects.  And Jean Martin plays drums like no one I have seen.  It’s so much fun to watch.  And the way he punctuates things on and off the beat is really inspired.

The performance is intercut with an interview from before the show.  Its kind of a shame to interrupt the flow of the performance, but she’s also got a lot of interesting things to say.

The show opens with Zubot’s amazing violin, which includes him sliding the bow up and down the neck sideways to make a kind of scraping (but pleasant) sound.

She tells us (paraphrasing)

The combination of the venue and the audience impacts the music which is improvised.  They fall into the groove of the place–a cement box of mosh pits will come out differently from a seated hall.

I’m pretty grounded and I’m lucky because I spend half my time in the air.

Indigenous people are having a voice.  When I was growing up there was more shunning of our own culture.

Around 3:40 she starts singing/fluttering her voice. The choir is filling in behind her.

Around 5 minute she starts doing some real deep vocals and the drums kick in.

Martin is an amazing drummer.  He keeps the beat constant but is playing all over the cymbals and snare on polyrhythms with lots of clacks and rim shots.

Things get really intense around 8 minutes with the choir singing and the lights swirling and Tanya hitting cool high notes.

A kind of natural quieting moment occurs around 10 minutes and she talks about throat singing.

13 minutes she gets into a kind of rhythmic breathing with some cool sound effects from….someone.

After 19 minutes things start to build in intensity. It is so much fun watching the musicians play everything especially Martin–the way he is practically out of his seat hitting things.  Tagaq is singing in a  high voice, on her hands and knees.

Around 24 minutes things build to a peak that lends to a quieter moment and it cuts to her cracking up over

having people give me shit for not being traditional…. over the internet

Then the show comes back until the end.  She makes animal noises sounding like she’s having a conversation, with finger-animal-horns on her head.  Ecstatic moans and animalistic groans evoke a kind of call and response with the choir.

The final uninterrupted ten minutes are just an amazingly tense exercise.  Between the lights, the tension of the guitar the thumping of the drums and Tagaq herself being possessed where you can hear her “human voice” coming through the growls.

At 31 minutes she starts howling, and it sounds like a wolf–not a person doing a wolf.  The chorus is answering her as she poses and distorts her body.   And then she starts her circular breathing.  The sound of her breathing in and out is so intense–is she being chased, is she in the throes of passion.  Combined with the motions she makes and again the amazing percussion the last ten minutes are just mesmerizing.

Then it’s all denouement as she comes back into herself with thunder rumbling and crackling as she breathes.

I sure hope Owen Pallett didn’t have to follow that!

[READ: May 15, 2018] “Slingshot”

This is a story about love and how people perceive it.

The narrator explains that she was 70 when she met Richard who was thirty-two at the time.

Richard moved in next door and had lots of parties.  He was a fun-loving kind of guy and he had lots of lovers.

But he also stated that there is no such thing as love.  The narrator’s granddaughter Rose claimed to be in love all of the time and would then wind up crying by the phone.  The narrator herself had been in love–she had been married once some thirty years ago. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON (December 11 1996).

This is the final show on Rheostatics Live in which the band is opening for The Tragically Hip.

For this show, the intro music is also from The Wizard of Oz, but this time it’s Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”  It’s just one verse before fading out and then guitars fading in for Martin to play “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream.”

Turns out that this setlist is similar to the one from Buffalo with a lot of new songs.  Although there are a few older/more popular songs in places.

The new songs include “Fat” which sounds great of course.  I gather they are maybe sharing a microphone because at the end Dave says “See you in the next song, Martin.”  “Okay, Dave.”  This leads into a perfect version of “All the Same Eyes.”

Martin says “We are the Rheostatics.”  Dave says “We are the Rheostatics, not to be confused with The Howell Brothers (?).  They couldn’t make it but we got their jackets.  It’s nice of you to come out early.  We’re playing selections from our new record. Get it before it’s reduced to clear.”  (You can hear someone laugh on tape).

This is a segue into the single “Bad Time to Be Poor.”  It’s followed by another Tim song, “Claire” with the acoustic guitar opening in place.  There’s another lengthy guitar solo, although it’s not quiet as exciting as some of the other ones.  But Martin was saving up for a spirited version of “California Dreamline.”

They end their set with a rough rocking “Feed Yourself.”  During the spoken part, they slow things down to just a bass and washes of guitar.  It’s a pretty intense ending and a good preparation for The Tragically Hip.

[READ: June 25, 2017] The Story of Canada in 150 Objects

In celebration of Canada’s 150th year, Canadian Geographic and The Walrus created this special issue–a fun way to describe many elements of Canadian culture through “objects.”

The objects are grouped in vague categories.  Some have just a few words written about them while others get a few pages.  Some are humorous, some are more serious.  Most are happy or amusing, some not so much.  And all of it together paints a diverse and complex portrait of the country–as well as teaching this person from South of the border a number of things I did not know.

It’s with comic pride and humility that the first object is politeness (which is not an object at all, of course).  The amusing thing about this article about “politeness” is that while the author of it is very pleased to be so polite, he also can’t wait for his fellow Canucks to forget to be polite so he can rub it in with a extra smarmy “You’re Welcome.” (more…)

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