Monday, January 12, 2015

There's No Crying in World Music: DakhaBrakha and "Please Don't Cry"

I remember the first time I saw DakhaBrakha. It was Globalquerque 2012, I think. It doesn't really matter. I didn't know what to expect - the picture showed 3 women dressed in white wearing funny hats. Their description said something like "ethnic chaos music." So, I nestled into the Roy E. Disney Theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and prepared for what I thought would be a nice little concert of Ukrainian music. Instead, it was one of those shows that make your jaw drop. From the opening song, when all four members (there is a man in the group as well) pound out a frantic rhythm on drum to the three female voices putting it down on a Ukrainian rap, to a jazzy number with scat from the male member of the group, the whole audience was transfixed. I've since seen them again in, of all places a country and western bar, and they didn't disappoint, and were even in a playful mood which was charming.

DakhaBrakha presents the styles of several different ethnic groups, which includes Indian, Arabic, African, Russian and Australian instrumentation. Their name is a combination of two Ukrainian words meaning "give" and "take." All the groups members are graduates of the Kiev National University of Culture and Arts, and DakhaBrakha was originally a project of the avant-garde theater project called Dakh. This theatricality is embodied in their shows, including their costumes. This song, Please Don't Cry, can be found on their 2014 album Light.