Tanya Tagaq – Animism

Album Review by Gary Kaill | 05 Jan 2015
  • Tanya Tagaq – Animism
Album title: Animism
Artist: Tanya Tagaq
Label: Six Shooter
Release date: 26 Jan

It wrong-foots from the off and then, once you're fully disoriented, abandons you to your own devices. Tanya Tagaq's third album hits UK shelves fresh from elbowing aside the likes of Arcade Fire and Drake to scoop the Polaris Award, Canada's foremost music prize. That's some going for the Inuit throat singer and it would be ungenerous in the extreme to question that achievment. But with Tagaq the only overt activist on the ten-act shortlist – Animism is dedicated to "the missing and murdered Aboriginal women of Canada" – did the voting panel put politics before musicality?

Regardless, its unexpected opener aside (a cool take on Pixies' Caribou), Tagaq abandons formal compositional structure in favour of an unsettling moodboard of sound. Tulugak is a collage of twitchy backing and animal cries: throughout, Animism remains wholly at one with nature. But for the most part it lacks the animal magic that might welcome the listener in, or encourage repeat plays.