Tanya Tagaq, 'Tongues' : #NowPlaying An explicit, potent musical manifesto, demanding to repossess what colonization has stolen from Tanya Tagaq's culture.

Tanya Tagaq, 'Tongues'

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Our friends at NPR Music are always on the lookout for great new songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF TANYA TAGAQ SONG, "TONGUES")

SHAPIRO: So they've been bringing us some of their favorites. And today, we have a song called "Tongues" by Tanya Tagaq. Here's NPR's Tom Huizenga.

TOM HUIZENGA, BYLINE: There is no one remotely like vocalist, composer and author Tanya Tagaq.

(SOUNDBITE OF TANYA TAGAQ SONG, "TONGUES")

HUIZENGA: She's from a small community in the high Arctic, just a couple hundred miles actually from the magnetic North Pole. And as her song "Tongues" opens, you can almost hear the ice.

(SOUNDBITE OF TANYA TAGAQ SONG, "TONGUES")

HUIZENGA: You know, in the slithery violin and electronics - it's almost like icicle flutes or something. That happens right at the beginning. And then this huge industrial beep arrives...

(SOUNDBITE OF TANYA TAGAQ SONG, "TONGUES")

HUIZENGA: ...Along with Tagaq herself in this, like, singular style of improvised vocalizing that she does, which is rooted in the tradition of Inuit throat singing. Those convulsive respirations are positively fearsome.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONGUES")

TANYA TAGAQ: (Vocalizing).

HUIZENGA: I think we should be upfront. The song is not for the faint of heart. It's an in-your-face, explicit, potent musical manifesto demanding to repossess what colonization has stolen from Tagaq's culture.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONGUES")

TAGAQ: They tried to take our tongues. We lost our language. And we didn't. Inuuvunga. We didn't.

HUIZENGA: I'll never forget the mind-bending performance that she gave at the Kennedy Center in 2019. It felt something like a rite of passage or a ritual. And she herself knows that the music is not for everyone. She even pointed out the exits at the Kennedy Center with a little bit of a giggle in case people wanted to leave. And as she told the audience, you don't have seatbelts, but buckle them up in your head. And then, of course, she proceeded just to blow our minds for the next hour nonstop. So when I hear her, whether it's on record or live, I just - I feel like I'm in the presence of the forces of nature in all its frightening beauty and, as Blake said, in all its fearful symmetry.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TONGUES")

TAGAQ: You can't have my tongue. You can't have my tongue. Inuuvunga.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Tom Huizenga talking about the song "Tongues" by Tanya Tagaq. And you can find much more new music on the #NowPlaying blog at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF TANYA TAGAQ SONG, "TONGUES")

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