Tumassi Quitsaq,
Tumassi Quitsaq
(Inukshuk, 1998)

Tumassi Quitsaq's self-titled CD takes some getting used to -- in part because the music has all the feel of being country without quite being country, and in part because the vocals and the music don't always blend well.

As one would expect and hope, the musicians are technically sound and know their stuff. You have Timothy Aliqu (bass guitar), Eric Gaudet (6-string acoustic guitar, rhythm and lead electric guitar), André Brassard (harmonica and tambourine), Jimmy Alayco (drums) and Tumassi Quitsaq (12-string acoustic guitar and lead vocals).

The CD starts off with "Akulivimiuruvit," an uptempo song that goes off on its own. "Uupingasami" seems full of longing, but the peppiness of the tune counters the mood. There is a similar feel to "Ummatinuvanga" -- the music is decidedly upbeat while the lyrics seem to be sad -- but since the songs aren't sung in English and translations are not provided, it's hard to be sure.

The mixture of the lyrics and the music sounds interesting in "Sikaliatsiaijuittuq," but the song itself is rather neutral. "Akuni-Takuniangimiranuk" could well be another happy song sung sad or it could be another sad song with happy music. Neutral lyrics clash with upbeat music in "Piuq Piuq." This is followed by a powerful ode "Inurama" -- the passion in the song blows you away.

The passion continues in "Nunarijara," a quiet song where the music gives way to the lyrics. The harmonica adds a rich edge to "Alianarmat," a song that feels like home. Then you are pulled back to face the conflict between music and lyrics in "Airuq." The CD ends off with "Qujarivarit," another song where the music soars and the vocals keep their feet soundly on the ground.

Tumassi Quitsaq has it moments where all is good and the songs work. Unfortunately they are outnumbered by the times the songs don't quite click.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]
Rambles: 5 October 2002

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