Tanya Tagaq is an indefinable act. Avant-garde, progressive, experimental, but also primal, organic and emotionally-taught, Tagaq’s records can be both an exercise in endurance and a spiritual journey. Her unique style of Inuit throat singing and creative instrumentals have earmarked Taraq’s previous works as critical darlings and Animism, with its collision of vibrant wilderness and synthetic noise makes a bold impression.
It’s a challenging listen, impossible to ignore but satisfying to deconstruct, from the breathless slink of ‘Tulugak’ to the aggressive percussion of ‘Damp Animal Spirits’. Opener ‘Caribou’ is a bizarre cover of the Pixies classic, the lo-fi twang of the original swapped out for a misfit fanfare. Frank Black would approve, but it’s ultimately an odd addition alongside the intense atmosphere that the proceeding tracks successfully create.
And what an atmosphere it is. ‘Umingmak’ is an early highlight, providing the most obvious meeting of worlds between Tagaq’s aboriginal inspiration and EDM, but it is the double hit of ‘Howl’ and ‘Flight’ that offer the crux of this experience. Both are foreboding, base and animalistic; skeletal and sparse but rich in imagery that will undoubtedly spark a narrative in the listeners’ imagination. The haunting closer, ‘Fracking’, is the culmination of the gathering dread that Animism builds through its runtime. As a full stop to this occasionally-joyous, spirited and restlessly-creative album, it serves as a morbid jolt back to reality.
For all its difficult elements, or perhaps because of them, Animism is genuinely an adventure. Once again Tagaq has evaded the pigeonhole to create an album unlike anything you’ll hear all year.