DakhaBrakha At The Ford – Ukrainian Quartet Rakha Our Blakha Off

DakhaBrakha at the Ford. Photo by Bob Lee for the LA Beat.

The Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha have a sound that is at once ancient and modern, unlike any other music in my collection but somehow familiar. They are drawing from musical traditions that go back centuries, but the effect can be uncannily like listening to Public Image Ltd., voices wailing over deep basslines and indelible beats. In the idyllic natural setting of the Ford, the four musicians held us in a trancelike state, with no need to comprehend lyrics to get a deep feeling from the dramatic sounds unfolding on stage. Much in the manner of Australia’s Dirty Three, one’s emotions get tugged upon just from the information in the sound, no verbal cues are necessary.

This group has some of the most sublime, cool arrangements you’ll ever hear, anyone might become a percussionist at any moment. Accordion duties can be passed from member to member in mid-song. Their ability to confound expectation, using a relatively limited, traditional set of instruments, is one of their most endearing qualities. And a catchy song is a catchy song in any language – you find yourself tempted to sing along but respectfully holding back, not wanting to butcher what are probably very passionate lyrics. 

The group has received attention in the last year in the most awful way imaginable, as symbols of the Ukrainian resistance. All of the music we heard pre-dates the conflict, as far as I know.  Without having all the details, it’s evident that the stakes are up, we don’t know what kind of phone calls home these people are having. But the opportunity to see these masterful musicians in our town is a reminder that peace is fragile, and life isn’t cheap.


This entry was posted in Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply