A Tribe Called Red

Ok, so it’s probably no mystery to Canadians who represent the largest portion of impoverished peoples in Canada: our nation has had a long tradition of concentrating Aboriginal peoples into places unseen by the dominant half of the Canadian populace. The effects of corralling Aboriginals has had not only socioeconomic effects, of which I am sure every Canadian has some kind of opinion about, but it’s also created a kind of aural bubble around reserves, keeping the great and holy pitchfork understandably estranged from reserve lands.

Enter A Tribe Called Red. This group coerces this bubble to pop. A Tribe Called Red are a collective of DJ’s from Ottawa who provoke this dissociation by mixing two styles of music, Traditional and Synthetic, causing a mess of aural data most people wouldn’t imagine possible. This combination might offend those listeners ardently opposed to the great wave of dub. There may be those bothered by this sonic union, yet I feel these musicians are moving in a very important direction for the prosperity of Aboriginal peoples all across Canada.

By mixing these two breeds of aural arrangement together, something primordial arises. It may be a touch too top-40, however I believe in order for this band to really provoke listeners it needs that kind of radio familiarity to draw them in. The power behind the Pow Wow rhythm is the traditional platform most of these songs are built on, and rightly so. These rhythms, as ancient as they are, connect the singers to the spirits. It is in this way A Tribe Called Red frames the reinterpretations.

The videos, created by master editor Bear Witness, portray what most of the population conjures up when presented with the Aboriginal concept.  Using this medium provokes the listeners previous notions with an audio-visual juxtaposition of past and future. It might not be a style fondly received by this blog’s regular listeners but this new form is a promising musical revolution and ought to be received as such. I will admit that the general appeal to these works is lackluster, beckoning a more club friendly crowd. Most aboriginal people I’ve shared A Tribe Called Red with unapologetically say “my Kohkom would be bothered by this.” That’s alright, it’s a reinterpretation, a blend of foundation and atmosphere. It is True Canadiana, before there were Canadians. Enjoy.


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