In the realm of underground music, the phrase “avant-garde” can be a catch-all for a number of unrelated styles. It can also be overused and misconstrued, often dropped on anything that does not fit neatly into a genre’s sometimes over-defined box. But Nunavut’s Tanya Tagaq is truly an avant-garde musician.

Tanya is an experimental musical act who has truly breathed new life into the phrase avant-garde. Born in Iqaluktuuttiaq (also known as Cambridge Bay) in the beautiful Nunavut (a territory located in Canada’s North), Tanya has released a number of albums combining traditional Inuit throat singing, chilling soundscapes, and an intensity that ranges from minimalist to the truly complex.

Tanya’s voice is the absolute centrepiece to her work. Based off of traditional Inuit throat singing, her voice ranges from a quiet whisper to a full-on raging roar. She uses her incredible vocal prowess to paint dynamic auditory portraits of woman’s plight, indigenous struggle, and Canada’s inability to atone for it’s bloody colonial past. Her art is beautiful and serene, but also intense and rancorous.

The phrase avant-garde has seemingly been eroded into it’s own narrowly defining genre. Something once heralded as unique that is now becoming stagnant. But there are still truly innovative artists out there and Tanya Tagaq is one of the absolute best.

Check out her website here.

Words: Richard Weeks (Blackened Death Records)

Photo taken from Levi Manchak on Flikr.

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