Last week, I had an incredible opportunity to attend the US premiere of DakhaBrakha - the Ukrainian "ethnic chaos" quartet from Kyiv. The performance took place at CUNY Graduate Center in NYC as part of their Live@365 World Music Series. In all honesty, this was one of the most fantastic concerts I've ever attended, and I'll tell you why!
"DakhaBrakha" means "give/take" in the old Ukrainian language, and this truly unique project, which was started by avant-garde theater director Vladyslav Troiskyi, includes four very talented instrumentalists, three of whom are folklorists, and two are actors. With those credentials, it's no wonder that they create such dazzlingly original content, which is based in traditional Ukrainian music but incorporates trans-cultural elements, modern musical influences, and theatrical effects.
Part of DakhaBrakha's interesting stage presence is definetely the incorporation of very theatrical costumes. Women are dressed in white wedding dresses paired with Cossack hats, and they stand in contrast to the only male member of the group, who is dressed in black embroidered suit. I thought that this choice of clothes for women was also a strong fashion statement, especially because a mix of menswear with feminine pieces is very much "in" right now. DakhaBrakha women have a unique twist on this trend and their outfits make an attractive combination on stage.
DakhaBrakha definitely captivated me and the rest of the audience during their first US concert. It was so incredible to watch them create different sounds using multiple instruments and their voices. Their music just penetrates your body, energizes your senses, and leaves you with a bright outlook on this world. I would call this a genius. But find out for yourselves! Below I'm sharing two Youtube videos, and it was really hard to chose which songs to share. The first song uses a special instrument called 'drymba' from the Karpaty mountains (Carpathian), and the authentic song is mixed with modern hip-hop to create "Karpaty rap". The song is about a girl who is very picky with boys. In addition the video is very cool!
The second song is called "From under the oak tree" - one of my favorites! I love the sounds of the male singer, the cello theme and also the singing that is done in 'bilyj holos' (white voice), which is a special kind of authentic Ukrainian singing. This song just makes me want to dance :)
If you can't view the embedded videos - view them here and here. And if you'd like to hear more I suggest this and this. Enjoy!
P.S. DakhaBrakha might be back in NYC this January!
Photo credit: luminatofestival.com