Monday, October 15, 2012

Artist of the Day: DakhaBrakha

Is music a universal love fest or something that is dependent on individual taste, experiences, and preferences? Is it possible for a song to be so universal and easy to connect to that it can be a soundtrack to just about anyone's experiences?  Or is music dependent on our differences?  Can we only connect to music in one personal way that is uniquely ours? Is it possible for more than one person to have a collective and unique connection to one song or one moment or do our fundamental differences in taste, experience, and culture prevent this?

Before listening to DakhaBrakha's "Baby," I always thought the magic of the music listening process was found in the individual connection.  How you can create your own soundtrack based on your own experiences and taste: I loved how everyone had their perfect song to dance to, the song that reminded them of the first time they got kissed, the song that reminded them of when a family member died, and the song that reminded them of their wedding day.  The ability of someone else's music to be the soundtrack to your life was something potent and powerful, nostalgic and necessary, and beautiful and boundless.  The fact that you could love a part of a song so much that it almost becomes part of your life, part of your brain and your DNA, is something that is uniquely yours and could not be exactly replicated by any other friend, colleague, parent, or fellow music listener.  The "what does this mean to me?" aspect of music is the kind of individual self-involvement and actualization that makes it different from just about anything else we are passionate about.  I always thought this "musical individualism" was a fountain of the youth for our ears, that even though we would change and the music that we would listen to would change, the music would sound just as beautiful, refreshing, and youthful as the first note we heard.

I was passionate in this belief until I heard the seven minute and 25 seconds of universally accepted and connected perfection that is DakhaBrakha's "Baby."  The song is a seamless and simple combination of every genre and atmosphere you have probably ever loved in your "soundtrack" listening experience: it combines jazz with hard rock, it combines soul with grunge, it combines indie with rap, and it combines English with some other undetectable (someone help me out) language.  The song also combines desperate Jeff Buckley like vocals with a scathing yet sexy guitar riff,  reckless drumming that never seems to overshadow the greatness of the guitar riff, and even a few guest vocalists during a two minute breakdown.  So "Baby" is basically a seven minute and 25 second jazz, hard rock, grunge, indie, rap, and bilingual song with an epic guitar riff, at least one guest vocalist, and some awesome drumming.  And what does this result in?  The most soothing song I have ever listened to.  The magic of "Baby" is that even though it seems totally chaotic on paper, everything crazy thing it does is extremely relaxing: when the female vocalists perfectly harmonize in "another" language to the sexy guitar riff, it is almost sounds like a beautiful siren is luring you into the approaching ocean.  In fact, just about everything in the song washes over you: the guitar riff, the duel vocals, the different genres and sounds, and even the closing silence.  

The song is flawless in the fact that even though it lasts seven minutes and 25 seconds, it is so soothing that it makes you feel like it stops time.  When you listen to this song you will feel nothing except that everything this song is doing makes sure that for seven minutes and 25 seconds nothing else matters.  While other songs might be the soundtrack to YOUR first kiss, YOUR first car, and YOUR first breakup, this song is the soundtrack to the time you forgot time existed and just listened to this song. It is the song that will make you feel like nothing exists but the song itself.  If anything does exist it is just you, the sirens, and the ocean.  And DakhaBrakha's sirens, oceans, and universal forgetfulness is something that everyone wants to experience from time to time.  "Baby" and a good portion of DakhaBrakha's other catalog is music that can totally stop time for not just you, but anyone who needs that particular involuntary release.  It is truly a special and borderline groundbreaking listening experience. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. Heard them live recently and couldn't get Baby out of my head - maybe because it was the only English song, or because it was their last? Seems each of their performances vary slightly and don't compare at all to watching them live!