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A Tribe Called Red, “Look At This”

Final deliberations over the Polaris Prize shortlist continue this week among hundreds of jurors across the land, including tonight in a “Salon” (read panel discussion) at the Drake in Toronto. One of the discoveries the jury pointed me to this year is A Tribe Called Red, who provide the first convincing instance I’ve heard of aboriginal/electronic-dance-music fusion since the pioneering of Tanya Tagaq and before her, Buffy Sainte Marie. It’s always a mystery to me that, for all Canadian musicians’ cosmopolitan explorations, these sounds remain so obscured in our pop traditions. It might be an understandable hesitation towards exploitation and appropriation (even when native people themselves are the agents, as pow wow sounds are often related to sacred traditions). The history of borrowing and recontextualizing cultures in North American pop music is violently troubling, of course. But it’s also the whole history of North American pop music. So Tribe Called Red and others in this vein right now may propose a dare worth doubling.

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Filed under carl wilson, music, Tuesday Musics