Briga’s Territoire Album Takes Turbo Folk to New Heights

The Montreal-based writer, composer, performer, violinist and multi-instrumentalist Briga released her fifth album Territoire on Oct. 29.

Born to a Polish father and a Quebecois mother, Briga isn't afraid to show us the different sides of her fragmented identity. Briga gives listeners a modern take on Eastern European music, a new subgenre in folk she self-defines as Turbo Folk

Territoire is an enchanting and intriguing body of work, marrying Balkan and Maghrebian grooves with electronic percussion.  

These influences are the most obvious in the song “Tabou.” In the true fashion of Balkan music, the song carries a simple beat from beginning to end, accompanied by a jovial violin and a groovy base. Briga’s voice feels like another instrument in the composition as opposed to being the focal point of the song. 

Briga wanted her project to “reflect the reality of the Canadian musical landscape.” She cites Canadian artists such as Jeremy Dutcher and Tanya Tagaq as inspiration, both known for blending traditional styles and influences. 

The title track successfully blends old with new, with French pop vocals, orchestral harmonies and experimental beats. For the music, the violin arrangement does not stray away from traditional Maghrebian influences. 

Briga also stands out when she is experimenting with typical Montreal sounds. In “Faim,” Briga talk-raps using a Montreal vernacular that blends French and English effortlessly. The song ends unexpectedly with an electric violin solo, creating tension and release to end the song. 

Despite this, not all songs on Territoire succeed in establishing a clear beginning and end. “Lipa” featuring Ewelina Ferenc, a Polish singer established in Toronto, starts with a classic violin quartet, followed by experimental electronic music and ends with folk pop. Each section oddly blends into one another in a confusing way, making it hard to remain engaged. 

In “Tribu (Respire),” the same progression occurs. On the first listen, it feels like three different pieces compiled into one. The song ends abruptly and chaotically, almost as though they weren’t quite sure how to finish the piece. 

In comparison with the rest of the tracks on Territoire, “l’Oubli” is where Briga’s experimentation is the most impressive. Each part of the song, although quite different, strings together perfectly over a powerful monologue by Haitian rapper Ali X about intergenerational trauma. 

Briga closes off the album with “Paysage.” The song incorporates most of the stylistic elements she used on the album to remind us that Territoire is not quite folk, but not entirely electronic or pop either. 

Accompanied by the band’s other musicians, Briga will offer a digital performance of her new album live from legendary recording studio Hotel2Tango in Montreal's Mile End. The event will be broadcast free on YouTube on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

Jean-Philippe hosts Les Moutons Noirs on Thursdays from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.