Press

Briga, the captivating songstress from Montreal, delivers an up tempo and enthralling album in Femme. The 11-track album brings together elements of classical, dance, and jazz with the Eastern European flair of Turkey. The record swirls together beautifully, creating an exciting musical soundscape that is impressive as it is intriguing and breathtaking. Its cast of musicians make this record all the more exciting, bringing together the talents of violinist Iva Bottova, Turkish musician Didem Basar, Sephardic singer Tamar Ilana and producer So-called…Femme has something that everyone will enjoy, whether that be the upbeat affair of “Café Sarajevo” or the musical masterpiece that is “Pour Pelin.” Femme is a phenomenal record rife with fantastic production, a plethora of ear-pleasing musical moments, and a wonderful portrait of the world.

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Rooted in traditional Balkan ballads, Femme fuses melodies from different Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries, such as Albania and Turkey. Most tracks feature the accordion, which brings a classic Eastern European tone along with the Turkish qanun, a string instrument known for its traditional Middle Eastern sound… If you have an ear for world music and enjoy the traditional sounds of both Eastern European and Middle Eastern ballads, Femme will enchant you.

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Quebecoise fiddler Briga and her band have lately shifted from the Balkan music that she first made a name for herself in, to embrace North African grooves and melodies. It’s a good fit all around. There were echoes of moody chaabi balladry, funky Nubian beats and plenty of enigmatic, Egyptian-tinged tunefulness in her kinetically pulsing mix of instrumentals and vocal numbers. Singing first in French in a cool, unaffected alto, she led her excellent band through a set which, like Panesar’s, could have gone on for much longer – but this weekend is the booking agents’ convention, necessitating a constant changeover between acts. Briga’s keyboardist shifted artfully from spacy P-Funk synth, to slithery accordion, to reverbtoned, Herbie Hancock-tinged electric piano psychedelia while her subtle, propulsive bassist and two percussionists wove an intricately boomy lattice of lows.

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Wake opens up to the sounds of the middle east thanks to string arranger Tom Cohen, who specializes in this musical style as well as Sephardi culture; all this showcased by a quartet playing on half the album. Wake is tragic, bouncy, danceable, bulgarian, turkish, romanian, métis, classical, contemporary, turbo folk…its all that, on top of being very inspired even without the existential answers.”

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Briga, a.k.a. Brigitte Dajczer is a Montreal-based violinist who writes fascinatingly original, eclectic, biting Balkan-flavored songs. A protegee of Bulgarian violin legend Georgi Yanev, her album Contes: Turbo Folk Stories has a refreshingly raw, lo-fi spontenaneity, just like so much of the music being recorded on the fly in little studios across Macedonia and thereabouts … The whole thing is one of the most disarmingly original and interesting albums to come over the transom here lately.

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This is Montreal-based Briga, fire-brand fiddler and arranger, brilliant student – and dramatic player – of Roma and other Central European traditional music. There’s a nod to Yanev with his evacative Titanic, a dirty groove below skittish violin… and Briga examines the contradictions in this music – of having to endure love and hate together, of having to drink and dance. The resulting abandon is palpable … in what is really an accomplished journey through the music of the Balkans.

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The band’s crooked and compelling Balkan Rhythms and Briga’s soaring, wailing fiddle brings half the baskers to their feet, playing music clearly rooted in tradition but with an international feel and flair stamped Montreal – one of the most hybridised places in North America.

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A wild multiethnic quintet that’s a must see on stage. Based in « Balkan music/repertoire,  full électric weird! », the peppy violinist/ singer tells us about her encouter with Georgi Yanev & Bob Olivier, her new album hot off the press and her adventures in eastern Europe + the Balkans.
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Everything in regards to Briga is drenched in duality; be it Briga as the Gypsies of Sarajevo’s violinist, or Briga aka Brigitte Dajczer – the Montrealer who’s fragmented identity perfectly reflects her own home town’s. We could also say : Briga, the artist who’se music is deeply influenced by Balkan music or progressive sounds, or even better yet Briga – the traditionalist or the contemporary, the singer or the musician, the dramatic performer or the entertainer that brings everybody up on their feet to dance…Turbo Folk Stories is at times lamentable and delicate, more open musically than the previous disc, and at times full of mediterranean percussion with touches of tabla, keys & bass. This album is sung, funky, improvised, as intimate as biting, a touch free, dirty, retro… and damn good.

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  • Translation of Dan Behrman’s review of Turbo Folk Stories in Sons & Images (March/April 2012 issue)

“By mixing in the same song Bulgarian, French & English lyrics, Briga plays with both the joys of discovering new unknown languages, and the sober reality of understanding lyrics that are at times as tragic as they are funny … Over all, Turbo Folk Stories beckons us into the incommensurately rich world of Roma music, all the while maintaining a genuine and honest approach. A beautiful way for any listener to air out their ears and their soul to the upcoming springtime!”                     

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  • BlogTO article on Diaspora album launch at Hugh’s Room , February 2010:

“Diaspora is a toast to the great Canadian culturefuck – Balkan jazz, French chanson and contemporary art song, all performed with the youthful exuberance of someone who feels at home in her hyphenated identity. Briga has flourished in Montreal’s multilingual, multicultural musical melting pot. With Diaspora, she is now presenting her own take on the Balkan Gypsy musical revival.”

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  • Diaspora album review in The Record.com, February 2010:

“Anyone familiar with Balkan music knows that not only is it powerful and passionate, but it can also be lightning quick… Briga is Montreal’s Brigitte Dajczer (Les Gitans de Sarajevo, Geoff Berner), who tackles impossible tempos on her violin with the help of an equally awesome, jazzy band behind her… expect her to be the talk of the folk festival circuit this summer”

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“…given the combination of high energy and unspoken intimacy of Briga’s show…audience members and fellow musicians alike have commented that Briga seems to transcend reality when onstage—the music seems to move through her…”

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