Stunning Performance By Visionary Throat-Singing Duo With Powerful Statement On Cultural Reclamation
By Jason Schneider.
PIQSIQ (pronounced "pilk-silk"), comprised of sisters Tiffany Ayalik and Inuksuk Mackay, makes modern music based on traditional Inuit throat-singing. Their unique art is purely displayed on their latest album Live from Christ Church Cathedral, a haunting collection featuring a completely improvised six-song set.
Recorded in October 2020 in an empty Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, the setting allowed PIQSIQ's enchanting melodies and guttural beats to echo through the old, gothic architecture, creating a deep sense of magic, time travel and futurism.
The choice of the recording location was deliberate. This bold performance is an empowering statement that brings the ancient art of Inuit throat singing into spaces where it was previously forbidden. Christian religious organizations, in collaboration with the Canadian Government, were nearly successful in eradicating throat singing in the 1950s by making the practice criminally punishable through fine and imprisonment. Through the efforts of Inuit women the practice began to be revived in the 1980s. Throat singing is now experiencing a renaissance of reclamation and revitalization and the PIQSIQ sisters continue their contributions to its journey.
From start to finish listeners can feel the transportive nature of PIQSIQ’s live performance. With its complex and textured layers, soaring melodies and otherworldly sounds, it truly proves itself as a one of a kind experience.
Opening piece "Nocturnal" represents the beginning of a long, dark night for Inuit culture due to the colonization that forced its practices underground. "Nightmare" communicates the disturbing reality that many Inuit lived through while attending residential schools and southern sanitoriums. "Storm" signifies the tumultuous return home for those who survived. "Converge" is a coming together, a unification, a reunion of a people determined to no longer be tread underfoot. "Unearthed" is a heart wrenching lullaby sung to the reemergence of culture and of remains. The record closes with "Ascend," a bittersweet anthem inspired by restoration and the lifting of the downtrodden.
PIQSIQ's Live from Christ Church Cathedral is available now on all digital platforms and from Bandcamp.