Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Aasiva ft. Riit – Piqatiikka

Checking in on Nunavut…


Dorian Sinclair: There’s a thriving pop scene in Inuit Nunangat, and “Piqatiikka” (“My Friends”) brings together two of the artists working there who excite me most.The production is markedly chilly, with a deep drone undergirding synths that alternate between pinprick chords and descending chromatic wails, but as the song progresses and other instruments are layered in, it warms to match the singers’ vocals. There’s no chorus here, no big dance drop, but I don’t think one is needed. Listening to Piqatiikka feels like sitting by a fire and sharing stories on a cold night, gradually letting the world outside your circle fall away as you and your friends take strength from each other’s presence. I miss those nights, and I’m grateful to Aasiva and Riit (and producer Jace Lasek) for capturing even a fraction of that experience.

Thomas Inskeep: This Indiginous throat singer from Nunavut, Canada, singing in Inuktitut, has an incredibly striking voice. But on “Piqatiikka,” it’s about more than just her voice: it’s also about the dreamy harmony vocals of her compatriot Riit, and the musical setting that producer Jace Lasek has set their voices in. After almost two minutes of hearing them sing over chiming synths, the beats kick in in earnest, and everything really takes off. I’ve never heard anything quite like this record, this combination of throat singing and Inuktitut lyrics and eerie, beautiful lo-fi beats (RIYL Tanya Tagaq, but that’s a fairly reductive comparison), and it is magical like a sky full of stars on a cold, clear night.

Alfred Soto: The slow burn of an intro is striking on its own, but even if it weren’t Aasiva exerts such control over this electronic track that “Piqatiika” would be plenty striking as an exhibit of vocal plumage. The lurch into movement at the two-minute mark should tempt remixers. 

Iain Mew: Amid a thick drone with pinpricks of light built in, they sound gentle but with the possibility to head off in different directions as it develops. It feels a bit incomplete listened to on its own, but it’s an impressive show of skill and restraint that makes me interested to hear more.

John S. Quinn-Puerta: The drone is relentless, underscoring the airy synths and reverb-laden guitars, the bassy breaths between verses. The moment of intensification feels earned, as the drums begin to do more than keep time, playing off Aasiva’s voice in syncopated runs. The song is an exercise in restraint, a show of force in arrangement. 

Nortey Dowuona: The roaming bass and hunchback drums sneezing and slipping lie underneath Riit’s soft and smooth sea glass voice. The swirling strings spin past keening synths and Riit, ties around her arms, presses the hunchback drums into the sky, making them leap and crash as she takes flight, watching them patiently until she sees what they are leaping toward, a small hole full of food. Relieved, Riit dives for it.

Leah Isobel: Ear-catching sounds abound in “Piqatiika.” A wet, chilly synth trickles over the high end while throat singing echoes further down as a percussive engine; an effect like a distorted bird-call warps deep in the mix to emphasize the blooming harmonies. Aasiva sings softly, with a bit of a rasp, but when those harmonies open up she commands the entire track, balancing the spookier and colder aspects of the electronic elements. The interplay between human warmth and alien synthesized sound is common in electropop, but here they’re not juxtaposed as much as they’re synchronized — both cover a full range of expression, bolstering and supporting the other.

Ian Mathers: I’m not going to pretend I’d even heard of Aasiva before this song came up at the Jukebox, but for many reasons I clearly should have. Us white Canadians and other settlers did and do even worse things to the people we’ve displaced and murdered and continue to abuse in various ways than not paying attention to their art, but that’s our problem to fix (and not in a singles review), and none of the reasons I loved “Piqatiikka” the first time I heard it are anything but how amazing it sounds. It’s my favourite of the 2021 singles on Aasiva’s Spotify and while you can draw a clear path from that new material to the songs on her 2018 self-titled debut (you can still hear the ukulele, for example) there’s a certain kind of sweep and power to “Piqatiikka” in particular that moves beyond Aasiva’s past work. The foreboding opening reminds me a bit of Fever Ray’s first record minus the creepiness, which is not a knock on either side of the comparison. And when the beat comes in and Aasiva and Riit’s voices merge beautifully, it’s one of my favourite things I’ve heard this year. The lyrics are about love and gratitude for family and friends, but this kind of intensity and starkness of approach fits those sentiments as much or even more than it does more edgy subject matter. Honestly, aside from just love of the game, the main reason I do my best to keep up with the Singles Jukebox is because it exposes me to all sorts of music I don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to find myself, and I deeply appreciate that even when the results aren’t personal favourites of mine. When the stars do align and I hear something as good as “Piqatiikka,” it feels almost magical.

Reader average: [9.75] (4 votes)

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One Response to “Aasiva ft. Riit – Piqatiikka”

  1. I definitely don’t mind the times on TSJ where I’m an outlier, high or low, but it’s a genuine thrill when I love a song this much and find it’s got (say) over 8 on here.