Baba Yarga – Vershe
Slavic and Irish collective honour both cultures on beautiful new single.
Both the Slavic and Irish cultures are rich with imaginative and layered folk stories. Fantastical tales filled with characters born of the land and personified by the traditions of the areas from which they hail. Ireland had the Banshee, the Bàlor and the Leprechaun, while Slavic lore has Rusalka, Kikimora, and Baba Yarga – a ferocious being which resembles an old woman with chicken legs. With such rich invention abounding, it’s no wonder that a meeting of our two cultures would produce some pretty interesting results. Take ‘Baba Yarga’ for example, a collaboration between singer-songwriter and producer Agu and a group of musicians of different nationalities based in Galway.
The Baba Yarga sound takes traditional music from around the world and infuses those styles with a myriad of external influences. Jazz, pop, and electronica are all front and centre, and the units brilliant musical chemistry adds cohesion to their expressive folk identity. Their songs are creative, unique, and challenging, establishing Baba Yarga as a group that excels in pushing musical boundaries to their limits. The results can be heard on their debut single ‘Zoriushka’. That release got the traditional Irish music scene talking, and earned the group significant airplay on RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta, KCLR, and Flirt Fm. Whether it be Ireland, Poland, or the Czech Republic, Baba Yarga are causing a buzz wherever they are played.
Now the band are seeking to take things to the next level with their brand new single ‘Vershe’.
‘Versehe’ keeps strong the bands’ ties to diverse culture, this time diving into the world of the Lemko tribe. The Lemko are an ethnic group which exist in and around the Carpathian mountains that border Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The Lemko language has survived for many years despite its speakers being scattered all over the world, much like the Irish have experienced with our own native tongue. Baba Yarga celebrate this connection by having the original words spoken as Gaeilge (by Galway singer/songwriter Tracy Bruen) as a prologue to the original Lemko version comes to the fore.
The song itself is a staggeringly emotive piece of cinematic music. The listener has transported away to the natural beauty of the Carpathian Mountains and a shimmering unspoiled landscape. The vocal harmonies between Iweta, Witek, Agu and Eimear Coleman are hypnotic and affirming, as traditional Slavic instruments whip up an enticing and majestic soup of thick aqueous sound. This broth is further seasoned by a selection of guest musicians, who each offer up their own musical implement of choice.
This musical ingenuity even extends to the practice as an experimental instrument is used on the recording, a cross between Balkan, Irish and Middle Eastern rim-blown flutes, as played masterfully by Witek Kulczycki.
‘Vershe’ is a rich cultural mixing bowl as well as a spellbinding piece of music. The sheer levels of musicianship, cultural harmony and sonic inventiveness is worthy of so much praise. In a world where so much music is rehashed and soulless, Baba Yarga continue to find riveting ways to bring something vital and unique to the table while paying respectful tribute to cultures of the past.