If you have half an hour, do yourself a favor and watch this mesmerizing set from Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha, featured on Live on KEXP, April 23, 2017. The folk-pop-punk band, which emerged out of an experimental theater in Kyiv, is a world-music quartet that, according to the Portland Press Herald, "delves into folk tunes accompanied by traditional Indian, Arabic, African and Ukrainian instruments, including the bugay, zgaleyka and garmoshk."
Last year, NPR wrote a feature about the band as they kicked off a US tour, stating:
For years, DakhaBrakha has called themselves "ambassadors of free Ukraine." Their shows have been punctuated with cries of "Stop Putin!" and "No war!" Now, they hear those demands reflected and amplified around the world.
This quartet's name means "give/take" in old Ukrainian — and that's exactly what they do. Cabaret, jazz, rock and hip-hop are all part of the band's DNA. But they also explore all kinds of old Ukrainian folk styles, fed through the prism of the 21st century.
The band provides this bio on its website:
Reflecting fundamental elements of sound and soul, Ukrainian «ethnic chaos» band DakhaBrakha, create a world of unexpected new music.
The name DakhaBrakha is original, outstanding and authentic at the same time. It means «give/take» in the old Ukrainian language.
DakhaBrakha was created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art «DAKH» by the avant-garde theatre director — Vladyslav Troitskyi. Theatre work has left its mark on the band performances — their shows have never been staged without the scenic effects.
Having experimented with Ukrainian folk music, the band has added rhythms of the surrounding world into their music, thus creating bright, unique and unforgettable image of DakhaBrakha. It will help to open up the potential of Ukrainian melodies and to bring it to the hearts and consciousness of the younger generation in Ukraine and the rest of the world as well.
Accompanied by traditional instrumentation from different countries, the quartet's astonishingly powerful and uncompromising vocal range creates a trans-national sound rooted in Ukrainian culture.
At the crossroads of Ukrainian folklore and theatre their musical spectrum is intimate then riotous, plumbing the depths of contemporary roots and rhythms, inspiring «cultural and artistic liberation».
If you want to see more from DakhaBrakha, check out this 14-minute set from NPR's Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, recorded in 2021. The band is touring through the rest of November and also at the beginning of 2024—see show dates here.