Yellowknife duo PIQSIQ are to release a Christmas album in which carols are “reimagined and sung to the beat of katajjaq, or traditional Inuit throat singing.”
The album is called Quviasugvik: In Search of Harmony. In a news release, PIQSIQ – Kayley Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik – said they chose the title as Quviasugvik is the Inuktitut word for “Merry Christmas.”
“Each track is an eerie and mournful tribute to the complicated relationship many Indigenous Peoples have with the tradition of Christmas,” the two wrote.
The album will be released on November 25 as a download via Bandcamp, and shortly after on other platforms.
A promotional brochure accompanying the album states Christmas “comes wrapped in a confusing package of joy and pain” for sisters Ayalik and Mackay.
“Raised with sombre Christian contexts and taught to sing carols and hymns, they were also immersed in the absolute elation of attending Christmas Games, a joyously celebrated tradition among many Inuit communities filled with two wondrous weeks of music, dancing, feasting, and hilarity,” the text continues.
“The sisters shifted in adulthood toward celebrating the Winter Solstice in place of modern Christmas traditions. When children of their own entered their lives, Christmas took on an extra layer of complication once more, causing them to dip their toes back into their complicated pasts and begin to reconcile the extreme contexts within.”
The new album, the two say, is their attempt “to stitch together these contrasting experiences and create harmony out of difficulty and struggle.”
Tracks included on the album are Carol of the Bells, What Child is This, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Qimuksiq: Dogsled Ride, and a Carol of the Bells remix.
Ayalik and Mackay said their album is “entirely lyricless,” allowing the two to explore the carols’ melodies without including their “Christian contexts.”
Qimuksiq: Dogsled Ride, unlike other tracks on the album, is a new composition by PIQSIQ. The track is described as “an anthem to the joy that ensues when Inuit gather for celebration.”