"The songs on Retribution encompass terror, rage, ecstasy, adoration
and bone-leeching sadness, and they do so with a seemingly
uninterrupted line of communication to their source. "
-- Katie Presley of NPR on Tariya Tagaq
"Tagaq’s music seems to tap some cathartic interiority in her listeners; she sometimes has to hold fans as they sob after her shows. In live performances, she is almost demonic. Her face contorts in fury or ecstasy; her hands slice the air; she hunkers down and crawls across the stage, stampeding through the songs without stopping for a glass of water or a sip of wine. “There’s such a power surge of energy and a spectrum of emotion,” Boyden said. “It’s incredibly hypnotizing, and people are afraid of that.” Her voice is often described as “animal-like,” a phrase I would hesitate to use if Inuit throat singing were not intended to mimic the noises of nature, and if she did not frequently make this simile explicit—erupting into howls, for example, or morphing from a wolf to a caribou to a seal in the video for “Tungijuq.” The title Animism is useful shorthand for Tagaq’s whole mode: not entirely supernatural, not entirely of this world, but occupying the space in between. When she sings, what we hear is something like her insides—guts, heart—trying to escape her body."
- The Walrus, Drew Nelles, Jan. 15, 2015: https://thewalrus.ca/howl/
"Retribution is Tanya Tagaq’s portrait of a violent world in crisis, hovering on the brink of destruction. It’s a complex, exhilarating, howling protest that links lack of respect for women’s rights to lack of respect for the planet, to lack of respect for Indigenous rights. It’s an album about celebrating the great strength of women, it’s about rejecting the toxic, militaristic masculinity that’s taken over the world since the rise of Western industrial capitalism, and is rapidly destroying human life support systems through climate change and pollution. In a startling lyric from the title track, she observes, “Money has spent us.”"
Tagaq views our treatment of the earth, most importantly the melting snows in her home country, as an ultimately apocalyptic scenario and paints it with appropriately murderous fury. "My mother grows angry, retribution will be swifffffft/We squander her sssssoil and ssssuck out her sweet black blood," she venomously rages on the titular environmental tract before it slowly boils over into a dissonant, distortion-saturated art-metal blizzard full of screams....Retribution ends with a desolate, frigid cover of Nirvana's "Rape Me," closing an album about literal and metaphorical rape with panned whispers and claustrophobic shudder. One of the avant-garde's most dynamic performers finally gets the studio album her unique vision deserves.