Album Review: Retribution
Six Shooter Records (2016)
Retribution, Tanya Tagaq’s follow-up to her Polaris Prize-winning album, Animism, packs a bigger punch than its predecessor on all fronts, from its message, to its visceral, compelling sound.
Tagaq, an Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has assembled a diverse and talented group of musicians for this project, including rapper Shad, the Elemental Choir and fellow throat singer Radik Tyulyush.
Retribution begins on a softer note, easing the listener with an ethereal sound that persists throughout the entire album, before grabbing them by the eardrums with its titular track.
The song is a powerful combination of throat singing and spoken word, and is a stark criticism of a society in crisis; cut off from nature.
Tracks such as “Nacerous” and “Summoning” have a mesmerizing quality that deeply resonates within the ear.
Tagaq’s cover of Nirvana’s “Rape Me” is the final song on this album, and is almost worth the price alone.
Surprisingly, and in sharp contrast to the majority of the album, this is a much softer song, but has the heaviest implications by far.
Tagaq makes no secret of her references to Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women with the lyric, “I’m not the only one.” This, along with the whispering, ghostly nature of the song, generates a palpable chill.
The overall tone is dark, but not fatalistic. Tagaq and her fellow artists use this album as a vehicle to unflinchingly address hard truths.
There are by no means any feel-good songs here. Instead, they are songs that reach into your very core and demand a response.
With a truly unique sound, a heart-racing pace and an incredibly relevant message, Retribution is an experimental project worth taking a chance on.