various artists,
Nunavik Concert
(Inukshuk, 1993)

This CD combines a concert in Inukjuak of Northern Quebec in Canada with special appearances from performers in Nunavut (formerly in the Northwest Territories) in Canada. These musical artists have donated their performances to assist the Inukjuak Artist's Association and the CD is an effort to promote the music and artists of the Far North.

The Inuit have a long tradition of musical entertainment, and like most folk music genres, there are some very original sounds inherent in their performances. They have gained proficiency in music that crosses the Celtic and country & western lines, as well.

You'll find a lot of different styles, just like at a down-home variety concert. The liner notes describe the contents as "violin jigging, country, western, accordion, folk, rock, Jewish harp and throat singing."

The most spectacular part of this recording is the throat singing. This movement actually brings the sounds of the North, a ptarmigan fluttering its wings, the great ice cracking and shifting, the northern lights sparking, sled-dogs howling, into being using only the body as an instrument. Minnie Palliser, Annie Alaku and Sarah Sivuarapik are excellent performers in this style.

"The Hunt," with words and music by Andre Brassard, flows with excitement and suspense. Because the hunt means life or death for the Inuit, I hear sorrow and anxiousness in the song, but also a sense of exhilaration. This last is no doubt in part because of the challenge of living in such an elemental but beautiful land.

Charlie Tumic plays a lively track called "Umiujarmit" that's somewhere between a Ukranian wedding, a Newfoundland two-step and a banjo-pickin' mountain sound. It sounds like a lot of fun and live taping means you hear the appreciation of the audience, their clapping and calls of encouragement.

If you listen to this CD, I think you will find something totally new mixed with some old familiar sounds of country. Nunavik Concert is definitely grassroots, but the musicians are not afraid of combining new sounds within their traditional environment. It's not sophisticated music, but it's professionally played and produced.

They say once you've visited the Far North, it's with you forever. These artists have successfully brought a piece of the Arctic to our land.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 21 September 2002

Buy it from