photo by Marc Vachon
“Takugiursugit” begins with bass and guitar lines which dance with and through each other; resonating in their crossing. I’m listening to the song with awful earbuds, in my office, where the air conditioning never stops buzzing, but the opening notes reverberate, thickly, through my head. The song curls into me and stays; a sensational experience as much as an auditory one. I feel the song; feel the beat of my alive body; feel warm.
The song, a single off of Beatrice Deer’s upcoming album, My All To You, was written and composed entirely by Deer. Like many of the other songs on the album, it is sung in Inuktitut – Deer’s first language – and folds Inuit throat singing into a carefully balanced arrangement made up of several stringed instruments, a drum and snare, and Deer’s vocal melodies. As I listen, I imagine Deer as a conductor, guiding each component of the song into its carefully fitted place.
My All To You, which will be released on May 11th, is filled with many such vocal puzzles and harbors; moments where the music vacillates between elements, joining and un-joining instruments and melodies so that that rhythm itself organizes the listener’s attention. I’m fascinated by Deer’s composition – not only on this particular single, but on the album as a whole – especially because, though this is her fifth album overall, it’s her first in which she has taken compositional ownership over all of the songs.
Deer’s voice, too, is complicated. For the majority of the song, her vocals hang above the rest of the instrumentation, leading both the lifts and falls. Halfway through the single, her vocals quicken, blooming, eventually, into Inuit throat singing. Most beautiful, I think, is when Deer’s throat singing becomes a mitigating beat for her Inuktitut melody. The two strands of Deer’s voice entwine together, becoming more complicated in their mirroring.
Therapy, Deer has said, played a big role in the making of My All To You, and “Takugiursugit” is therapeutic in its slow burn, patiently revealing new relationships between compositional elements which build, over and over, the song’s meaning and tone. When Deer’s voice rises, so do I, the physical effect of her music pushing the cells of my body up towards something more living, aware. Perhaps it’s the turning season which has caused me to lift. But, like new growth, I think the intentionality in Deer’s music – the weaving, the spring of it – has opened me up.