(Jericho Beach)

Spun: Tagaq

Publication YearIssue Date 

Tagaq's sophomore album Auk/Blood is the music to a bad trip. Like her collaborator Björk, her music flies into the realm of unclassifiable avant garde, which leads to one of the more unique albums of 2008.

Her singing, done in the traditional Inuit throat singing style, is totally unusual. Instead of the game-like nature of the traditional katajjaq - which features two different women standing face-to-face as they try to outlast one another - she goes it alone in her singing.

Her vocals are dark, melodic and almost always primal. The backing instrumentation and production work add to her vocals, creating desolate soundscapes featured on tracks like "Fire- Ikuma," which features cellos and violins swirling around, bringing out the emotion in Tagaq's singing. Other times, she takes the backseat, like in "Gentle" and "Want," where Buck 65 gives a more down-tempo electronic vibe to the aggressive violins. Offering breathy coos and gentle humming to Buck's rapping, they're the most accessible songs on the album, but also the weakest.

Despite the lack of words, Auk/Blood shows just how evocative music can be without the use of intelligible lyrics. In fact, the weakest parts of the album are the ones where there are words. Auk/Blood is also a testament to how an ancient tradition can be a revitalizing sound in music.