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Archive for the ‘Tanya Tagaq’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto (February 16, 2001).

This was night 3 of 4 of the Horseshoe Tavern’s 53rd Birthday bash. This show was webcasted by a company called virtuecast which was pretty ambitious for 2001. The Chickens opened the show.

They play seven song from the forthcoming Night of the Shooting Stars but otherwise they continue to mix things up a lot.

After a lengthy, effusive intro yesterday, Jeff Cohen is more concise tonight, which is good because this show goes super late.

This show is one of my favorites.  The opening bunch of songs are just phenomenal.

“Fat” absolutely rocks and is a great way to open the show.

Martin is excited to see everyone: “Its hot in here.  What a rock thing to say.”
Tim: “It’s the humidity.  That’s not a rock thing to say.”
Dave: “Yeah but it’s a dry heat.”
Tim: “Dry humidity.” “It’s those damn Chickens they just warm things up way too much.
Don: “It’s like a damn incubator up here.”

Someone shouts for “Californication” and Dave replies that the Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band is down the street.

The second song is an amazing “Sweet, Rich, Beautiful, Mine.”  Martin is totally into it–screaming and wailing vocally and on guitar.  Martin is fully animated on “Soul Glue” as well with fantastic backing vocals.

Someone shouts for “Jessie’s Girl.”  Dave replies, “There’s been a trend in people calling out bad songs asking us to play them.   But it would only make it worse if we played them because you don’t really want to hear them.  Rheos do Rick Springfield would be a very bad thing–a lot of bad energy.”

Two new songs, a ripping “CCYPA” (I’m a member!” and one of the best live versions of “We Went West” that I can recall.  It’s really sharp and alive and Martin’s guitar solo sounds great.

Martin’s a little sloppy with the lyrics of “Northern Wish,” but it’s got great energy.

They haven’t done “When Winter Comes” in a while, but it sounds really good.  The crazy noisy guitar intro is cool and Don says they could send that out to The Chickens.  There’s a great dual guitar solo like Thin Lizzy and Dave sings about “greasepaint on VH1” instead of Video hits.  There’s a wild sloppy ending and lot of jamming.

It’s followed by a tidy “PIN” and then Martin rips through “I Fab Thee.”  It’s funny  that they talk about it being from a children’s album, while Martin loves to throw in that line about masturbating.  Dave says One Yello Rabbit is going to do a stage production of Harmelodia in 2002.

“Here To There To You” is Dave’s sweet acoustic song.  It leads to “Take Me In Your Hands” which Tim says “you might want to burn this next one in a CD.”

They invite Alun Piggins on stage and he sings his song “Heading Out West.”  It has a kind of country feel with gentle harmonica.

Martin says this next song (“Palomar”) takes place in Sowthern California (the same way the Japandroids pronounce Southern).  Dave sasys, “I really love the way you say southern its one of the things I love about you that extra bit of style.”  Martin doesn’t quite hear the difference but then says “English ain’t my first language.”

Dave loves a guy’s shirt which he shows off, but we never hear what it says.  Bummer.  Martin starts whistling the “We Are Very Star” melody so maybe it’s something about that.

“Legal Age Life At Variety Store” is wild and stomping.  Dave from The Chickens comes up and sings “I Wanna Be Sedated” (very well).  Dave introduces him as “Joey Ramone from The Chickens.”

They talk about The County Killers whom they met in 1986 at the Rivoli with Margaret Atwood and Ben Kerr (a Canadian author, broadcaster, musician and perennial candidate, who was most famous as one of Toronto, Ontario’s quirky street performers) on the bill.  They started the musical hockey night and this is the 14th year of music and hocket where bands lace up the skates and play.

Martin says “Satan Is The Whistler” is a funny song. They fly through it–sloppy with the fast parts and the ending which Martin comments as flub flub flub.   Don notes: “we’ve made it our policy to mess up the ending of every song tonight because this is all going to be webcast and we can’t have proper versions floating around.”

“Claire” is beautiful and then Dave says, “we’re gonna leave you with a dance number.”  It hasn’t been a dancing crowd but we hope to turn things around.  “Song Of The Garden” as a rocking ending with that wild guitar nonsense formation.

After the encore, Dave dedicates “Mumbletypeg” to Janet and baby Cecilia (aw, she’s at least 18 now).

The audience shouts for all kinds of songs, but Dave says how about “The Idiot” and it’s a solid version that segues into a strong, intense version of “Shaved Head.”

They start playing house music, but the band comes back after 2 minutes (which must have been a surprise).

Martin: “We’ve got a plan”
Don: “The plan is to keep on rocking until tomorrow.”
Someone: “Unfortunately I’ve been informed it already is tomorrow”
Tim: “That’s right, so see ya later.”  Then he notes: “Burn this one on your CD.”  It’s a rocking “Four Little Songs/PROD/Four Little Songs.”  Dave comments throughout the song: “Meanwhile in France” before Tim’s part and “can’t go wrong …can’t go wrong… unless its Don” (before Don’s part).  After a ripping PROD, they return to “four” with a completely nonsensical rambling jam.  It sounds terrible but fun (Tim: hey this is easy).

They end the night with “Don’t Say Goodnight,” a sweet folk song.  It’s a lovely ending to the night.  And people don’t want to leave, but JC says, “Sorry, it’s really late thanks for coming out an celebrating The Horsehoe.”

It’s an amazing show.

[READ: February 13, 2019] “Split Tooth”

This was a great story from an amazing talent.  I’ve seen her perform live and she is amazing.  But I didn’t know he could write so well.

This story begins with a girl in grade eight growing up in the North.

“It’s pitch black outside.  Dead winter.  We have not seen the sun in weeks.”  The door has frozen shut but “school has not been cancelled: it’s not cold enough outside. It has to be at least minus fifty with the wind chill to merit a day off.”

The cold has scared the blood out of her toes but Kamiit (mukluks) help feet navigate the snow and ice.

School sucks.  She has a cold sore and will likely be called “soresees” until it is gone.  The nicknames are never kind but are strangely amusing like “nibble-a-cock” given to the girl who “gave a blowjob to that hotdog on a dare.” (more…)

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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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[ATTENDED: February 8, 2018] Weaves

I saw Weaves on a Tiny Desk concert and knew I had to see them live.  Their songs are poppy and definitely a little weird.

I was particularly excited that their show was a double bill with Palehound–two bands who I like a bunch on the same bill.  Normally I know that a double headline show like that means that both bands play fewer songs, but since both bands only have two albums each it’s not like they were each going to play for two hours anyhow.

Vocalist Jasmyn Burke sings in a fun and peculiar style–hitting interesting falsetto notes and growling and screaming.  On their first album, the guitars (with a fast vibrato effect) often followed her vocal line in a kind of manic way.

Their second album has less of that but the songs are no less energetic and are still rather manic.

I loved when guitarist Morgan Waters came out to warm up.  He played some great, unusual sounds (I guess his rig was plugged into a laptop?).  I was really psyched for the rest of the show imagined what was in store. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 13, 2017] Tanya Tagaq performs Nanook of the North

No use burying the lead: I just witnessed something singular.  Something unique and unforgettable.  Tanya Tagaq is a magical performer and I consider myself lucky to have seen her (even if I wasn’t always looking at her). And to have heard her incredible band live.

Tagaq is an Upik performer who incorporates throat singing into her music.  And when she performs, her entire body is possessed by the music. She becomes animalistic, both low and growling as well as high and soaring.

Nanook of the North is considered the first documentary film.  Filmed in 1920 by Robert J. Flaherty, it depicts Nanook, a “happy Eskimo,” and his family as they go about their lives.   For many people it was their first and only exposure to Native culture.  This film has been praised for its documentary techniques, but ridiculed for its patronizing attitude and for fudging reality.

I learned last night that part of the reason some of it was fudged was because his original film was destroyed in a fire and he returned to get more footage–often recreating what happened the first time.  [Some Wikipedia details shed some light on his good intentions and controversies–see bottom of the post for a few details].

I first watched Nanook of the North about 20 years ago in a college film class.  It was fine–less boring than I imagined, with some interesting moments, but not exactly gripping after 80 years of filmmaking.  But with Tagaq’s new soundtrack, the film took on an amazing and powerful component which added intensity, drama and tension to this film. (more…)

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janfebSOUNDTRACK: TANYA TAGAQ-“Uja” and “Umingmak” live at the Polaris Music Prize (2014).

tanyaTanya Tagaq won the Canadian Polaris Prize this year.  Tagaq is a Canadian (Inuk) throat singer from Cambridge Bay (Ikaluktuutiak), Nunavut, Canada who at age 15, went to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to attend high school where she first began to practice throat singing.  Mostly I included that so I could have the word Ikaluktuutiak in a post.  She is the first native Canadian to win the prize.

Tagaq sings in a gutteral throat singing style combined with some more traditional high-pitched notes.  She has worked with Mike Patton and extensively with Björk.  Most of her songs don’t have lyrics per se, and the album that won the prize is called Animism.

This is a live broadcast of her set which has been describes as truly mesmerizing in person.  It is certainly mesmerizing in video–marveling that the woman can sound so possessed  and yet so clearly in control.

At 1:38 when the backing vocalists (who were shrouded in darkness sing out, it’s quite startling.  I don’t know when the first song ends and the second begins, but at 3:48. when the drums start a regular beat, you can hear a sense of commercial rock amidst the avant garde music.   Around 5 minutes the music drops away and when Tagaq sings briefly in her non-throat voice she sounds almost childish. But when the throaty growls returns, it’s a bit scary, frankly.

Tagaq has talked about bringing the sensuality of throat singing out into the public and by 7 minutes, the sensuality is right there on the stage.  By the end, when she is screaming her lungs out, it has to have been really intense in the theater.  And her wold howl at the end is uncanny.

Clearly not to everyone’s taste, but probably not lie anything else you’ll hear all day.  And unlike anything you’d hear at the Grammy’s.

[READ: January 2, 2015] “Beyond the Shore”

This is  brief story about competitiveness at the gym.  It’s the kind of story that is probably acted out in gyms across the country and one which shouldn’t have been all that interesting, but Awad chose an interesting setting and characters to flesh this out.

I also enjoyed that the title has nothing to do with the action of the story.  Rather, it refers to the place where they live: “Beyond the Shore, a gated-living community that has nothing to do with California (we are nowhere near California), the apartment building which overlooks the Malibu Club Spa and Fitness Centre.”  Each morning when the narrator wakes up, she can see from her bedroom window that Char, an extremely depressingly fit woman, is already working out ion the gym. And most of the time she is working out on Lifecycle One, the very machine that the narrator has signed up for in fifteen minutes.

This wouldn’t be a problem except that in fifteen minutes, the narrator, who is not in peak physical shape will get to the gym and Char will still be in mid-routine with no intention of stopping.  When the narrator approaches Char, Char says she’s almost done (even though she ‘s already over by five minutes) and then mutters a nasty name about the narrator under her breath.  Often by the time Char gets off, the narrator has but 24 minutes in her time slot before the cardio group comes in next. (more…)

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