Reviews

Ya Tseen
Indian Yard

(Sub Pop)

7/10

Nicholas Galanin might be the ultimate multi-hyphenate. His work straddles sculpture, video, installation, photography, jewelry and music; he’s studied silversmithing, and learned from master carvers. Influenced by everything from conceptual art and pop culture to Indigenous philosophy and protest, born in Sitka, Alaska, he draws on his Tlingit and Unangax (Aleut) ancestry to create a sound born from the perspective of an Indigenous man. 

The resulting album, as Ya Tseen, is a fusion of melody, distortion and calls for Indigenous sovereignty that veers from psych-pop to dark autotune menace. Tracks such as ‘Knives’ and ‘At Tugáni’ feel like Animal Collective; ‘Synthetic Gods’ hits with steel and grit thanks to Stas THEE Boss; ‘Gently to the Sun’ twists electronica and the performative intensity of spoken word into something stirring and stern; and ‘Back in that Time’ claps with a brooding boom bap as fellow Alaskan Qacung sings in rhythmic Yupik.

Contrast ‘Close the Distance’ that shifts from that dreamy autotune sound into a big, bright pop hook, the generous helping of soul on ‘Get Yourself Together’ and the snaking, winding ‘A Feeling Undefined’ – it’s little surprise that Indian Yard is every bit as multi-layered and multi-faceted a listen as Galanin’s artistic take on the world promised.

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