Maybe it’s global warming, but Taima could be the hottest thing to come out of the Arctic since the end of the ice age. Behind the beautiful and frigid cover lies the warm universe of guitarist Alain Auger and singer Elisapie Isaac. The two are Northerners, Auger being from Quebec’s Abitibi region and Isaac an Inuit from Salluit, a village in the Canadian Arctic.

The music of Taima is as distant as could be from traditional Inuit singing and this first album already has its own identity. Elisapie Isaac’s rich and soothing voice dominates the album but never at the price of anaemic musical arrangements: on the contrary, the arrangements can be quite muscular and sometimes downright psychedelic.

Taima means ‘enough’ and it is intended here to be a call for change addressed as much to the Whites of the ‘south’ as to the Native communities. Isaac feels the former tend to see themselves as culturally superior, the latter as perpetual victims. In a way, Isaac is the ultimate Canadian. The multicultural ideal that rarely is. Moving gracefully from Inuktitut to French to English, she is also a thoughtful and sensitive writer. She has already made a documentary on the future of her nation and social consciousness permeates this album. On ‘Les Voyages’ she reflects on identity, saying, in French: ‘Here I am in a city that has crushed the traces of its ancient dwellers. But I needed to go, to lose myself, to defend myself. I needed to go to find again the beauty of where I come from.’

New Internationalist issue 372 magazine cover This article is from the October 2004 issue of New Internationalist.
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