Tanya Tagaq's new album is a project for the palate.
Tanya Tagaq's new ten-track album, Retribution, comes out Oct. 21, and addresses themes including climate change and indigenous rights. - photo courtesy of Emily Smart
The contemporary throat singer and indigenous activist called the creation of Retribution an "organic process" built on studio improvisation sessions.
"It's like a gathering of ingredients, and through the process of listening and adding more ingredients we come out with something that tastes OK," Tagaq said.
The ten-track album will be released on Oct. 21 by Six Shooter Records. It is the fourth studio album by the Cambridge Bay artist who won aboriginal recording of the year at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards and the Polaris Music Prize in 2014.
The tracks have a tone of urgency, with song titles like Nacreous, Aorta, and Sulfur. But she doesn't call it dark.
"I think it's more of a cleansing, or a call to arms."
Tagaq said themes of climate change, women's issues and indigenous rights are "swimming in the undercurrent of the album."
She said these themes infiltrate the track list because these are things her band of 10 years talks about while on tour. But she notes that the album, while heavy, is hopeful.
"There are a bunch of us that got a little taste of Canadians having more open ears to the idea of respecting indigenous cultures," she said. "Things are shifting in society, there's uprisings happening. It seems like a very good time to address a revolution that is going on."
As a throat singer, her work is at times based on traditional songs or concepts, but is also 99.9 per cent improvised and modern, she said.
"For any artist making art it is an attestation to the times," she noted.
"We're all influenced by what is happening around us, we are almost dictated by society and how people are acting and reacting to situations that occur around the globe."
Two songs, Retribution and Centre, have been released in advance for buyers who purchase the album prior to its release.
She said the title song is her favourite.
"It really embodies what our concerts are like, I think it is the closest we've come to having our concert sound in a song."
Centre, featuring rapper Shad, has an animated video by artist Chad VanGaalen. The video shows abstract solar systems, kaleidoscopic skulls and cartoon sea creatures, merged with Dorset-esque art. "I like people to take away what they want to take away and glean what they wish. To take the concepts that come with the music and ingest them and be respectful and just enjoy," she said.
Her plans for release day are pretty low key - but will probably include oysters.
"I'm really into those," she said, laughing.
Tagaq is already working on her next album.