ANTI-HEROES CAN BE COOL

Qatar Today - - AFFAIRS > DOHA DIARY - BY ABIGAIL MATHIAS

The venue for the band, per­form­ing its de­but con­cert in Qatar, could not have been more ap­pro­pri­ate. It was the cir­cu­lar au­di­to­rium of the Al Rayyan Theatre. The band, Cir­cle of Sound, was bring­ing its unique sound to Doha. When asked to de­scribe their mu­sic, mem­bers of the band called it "eth­nic space age". Of course it is much more than that.

The band con­sists of a 19-stringed sarod player, a drum­mer, a vi­o­lin­ist, a pi­anist and a cello player. Hailed as be­ing at the ‘van­guard of Bri­tish Asian mu­sic' (BBC), their sound res­onates with deep In­dian ra­gas, ur­ban beats and a spir­ited rock at­ti­tude. Soumik Datta, a young sarod player who has been recog­nised for his sheer tal­ent, makes the clas­si­cal In­dian in­stru­ment seem like an elec­tric gui­tar.

The band vis­ited Qatar to launch their sec­ond al­bum, Anti Hero, as the first stop on an in­ter­na­tional tour. If no one had heard of them be­fore, their first per­for­mance saw a lot of new fans rush­ing to buy their al­bum after the show. “There's a whole world where ev­ery­one is fight­ing for that top spot. We wanted to show that it's al­right to be the anti-hero,” says drum­mer Bern­hard Schim­pels­berger, who sur­prised the au­di­ence by singing In­dian ra­gas.

As for Datta, he has col­lab­o­rated with Bey­oncé Knowles, Talvin Singh, Shankar Eh­saan Loy, and com­poser Javed Akhtar, among others. He is also is a res­i­dent artist for the Lon­don-based Alchemy Fes­ti­val and the Rich Mix Cul­tural Foun­da­tion. His fel­low mu­si­cian, singer-song­writer Fiona Be­van, ex­plains that they met in English Lit­er­a­ture class and can­not be­lieve that their mu­sic has brought them half­way across the world. Be­van has writ­ten mu­sic for lead­ing artists like One Di­rec­tion and has just re­leased her own solo al­bum. Other mem­bers of the band in­clude Laura Stan­ford, Ros­abella Gre­gory and Da­nial Keane.

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