The sultry sounds of Sunday Driver
'Of all the bands I've been to see in my whole life, Sunday Driver are the most relaxing,' announced my music loving companion who ventured South of the river with me to catch this most unique of bands play as part of this year's London International Arts Festival (LIAF). Quite a post-gig summary considering this is a gentleman who has travelled the world in search of unique sounds. Thankfully we don't all need to board a plane to witness global music; that's what LIAF is all about, giving a platform to unheard and original musical talent from around the world and bringing it to the capital. Not that Sunday Driver have travelled far. Some of the band hail from London, some from Cambridge and the others have the potential to be from all kinds of lands - for this is an ever evolving collective and tonight, lead singer Chandrika even puts out a call to recruit potential new members.
The band formed after she began composing while working as a scientist near the South Pole in Antarctica. When she returned from her expeditions she put pen to paper and Sunday Driver was born. The band are popular on the UK Steampunk circuit, outfit wise this makes sense, though musically it's hard to pin them down to any kind of genre. They represent everything that eclectic is and can be.
Fusing South Indian vocals (sung in Tamil and Kannada) with rocky guitars, haunting clarinets and a live harpist; you'd be hard pressed to find anyone like them. But coming back to the description of them being 'relaxing'; despite the eccentric nature of their unique sound, it's Chandrika's soft, spell-binding vocals that lure you in and leave you at peace, which characterise the band. Whether she's singing an Indian folk song or English lyrics, she has a way of making you forget about your worries and cut off from the outside world; transporting you into her own.
Tonight the intimate set takes place inside Brunel Museum; a tiny local archive situated by the River Thames in Rotherhithe. Every part of the evening is magical, the sound and the surroundings. In between sets there's even a chance to dine on dhokla and traditional sweets; a far more civilised way to see live music than most gigs. But then one would expect nothing less of Sunday Driver.
You don't need to know any of their songs to see Sunday Driver live, nor do you need to be aware of their 10 year discography. This is a band who if you get a chance to, you should see because they really are, unbelievable special.