Felicitations, exuberations, exclamations and exacerbations, musically minded masses!
Apologies for a minor break in transmissions. Alas, my pan-dimensional phonograph melted, following a bizarre and traumatising incident where I tried to channel the music of 100 years into the future, only to find it all sounded like Rick Astley.
Fortunately, I was able to construct a new one out of a cement mixer, 2.33 cheese graters and a schizophrenic aardvaark, and thus, my quest continued.
It turns out, oddly enough, that the finest sounds of the future are those with the keenest appreciation of history and tradition, not only the all-pervasive Western cultures, but those beyond the narrow field of ‘popularity’.
This bombshell blew me directly toward the threshold of a brave new world, as imagined by a rather stunning troupe of multi-cultured Cambridge-convened genii. Immersing myself in this land of sonic wonderment, I soon realised I never wanted to leave.
One pertinent question appears to have been left hanging, like a quizzical sword of Damocles dangling threateningly over this post- Who? (or whom, depending on your grammatical sense)
Sunday Driver, m’dears. That’s who. Should this provoke some confusion, I must point out that whilst yes, in the UK, a Sunday driver is a meandering pensioner who restricts their automotive sojourns to 10 mph Sabbath-day dawdles around the countryside collecting tailbacks as they go, and true, that would be a stultifyingly dull and frustrating experience, that is in fact a total irrelevance.
What I am in fact talking about here is actually a superlative band, who have the exact opposite effect. I also have it on good authority that the ‘Sunday driver’ in question is actually a reference to a rapidly-mutating fruit-fly gene. Makes sense, no?
Sunday Driver are a revelation, a mysterious, masterful melting-pot of sounds, cultures, ideas and improbabilities. Blending sitar and tabla-driven hypnotic ragas with jaunty psych-Victoriana, vaudevillian theatricality and earthy traditional British folk, there is literally no-one else out there in possession of such intrigue, inventiveness and ingenuity.
These intrepid fusioneers journey through past and future, to East, West and all points in between. One could imagine them as the soundtrack to an imagined British Empire becoming overrun by the mystic, unstoppable forces of the territories it attempted to homogenise. I personally prefer to envisage a steam-powered elephant with a trunk full of laudanum. You may well feel differently, but will doubtless be amazed.
So, no ordinary band, no ordinary music. There is a miasma of legends and lore surrounding Sunday Driver, most of which, it transpires, is true. For instance, name, if you can, any other band whose singer wrote a fair chunk of their debut album whilst watching ice melt in the Antarctic? Anyone? No?
Admittedly Chandrika “Chandy” Nath was working for the British Antarctic Survey at the time (‘can we colonise that? Nope, it’s melting’), but this, in itself, is ludicrously intriguing.
Not half as brain-meltingly exhilarating as Sunday Driver’s music, however. Formed in 2000, they have spent their time wisely, gathering influences and scrambling them in a maelstrom of mystical magnificence. For example, an Arts Council grant in 2004 allowed them to undergo workshops with the god-like sitarist Baluji Shrivastav, something that has clearly helped to shape their incomparable sound.
Sunday Driver’s debut, ‘In The City of Dreadful Night’, released in 2009, was a lightning bolt straight to the heart of musical creativity, a majestic, swirling potion of dreamlike reveries and fantastical fables spun together via the band’s excellent musicianship into a powerful spell cast over all music past and present.
As an introduction to their world, the album could not be more potent. It makes abundantly clear that Sunday Driver inhabit some manner of alternate musical reality, with no respect for the constraints of geography, time or convention. Anywhere they went from there could only ever delve deeper into their strange and fascinating aural landscape.
Thus, The Mutiny began. With more thoroughly deserved funding from the Arts Council, the intrepid adventurers Joel Clayton (Guitar & Sitar), Kat Arney (Harp, Clarinet, Keyboard instruments, Spoons), Amit Jogia (Tabla), Melon (Bass), Chemise (Guitar), Scot Jowett (Drums) and Chandy Nath (Vocals) -all also playing a host of other instruments- set out to deliver a masterpiece that expanded on and perfected everything ‘In The City…’ had achieved. How could they better their glorious debut? With style and ease, that’s how…
‘The Mutiny’ represents a golden dawn of pan-global, anachronistic music. By turns intense, impenetrable, dramatic and doom-laden, the consistent quality of Sunday Driver’s sublime songcraft ensures that the album is a thrilling experience from start to finish.
Throughout, there’s a sultry, seductive quality to their swirling opuses, enhanced by Nath’s devastatingly beautiful voice, beckoning the listener ever deeper into the realms of their mystique.
The likes of the ‘Concubine Waltz’ or ‘Circus’s cabaret delirium sit seamlessly alongside overtly subcontinental fare such as ‘Satyam Sivam Sundaram’ (apparently re-worked from a tune penned by Nath’s grandfather), stormy climactic epics along the lines of ‘Myself’ and ‘Glass House Riot’, and more reflective moments in ‘The General’ and ‘Daniel’s Grave’, as well as a whole smorgasboard of exotic, ethereal and esoteric flavours ranging from the sublime to the utterly insane.
It’s a delight, enrapturing you with its perplexing complexities, and leaving you wondering why on earth no-one has attempted to do so much with music before. ‘The Mutiny’- and Sunday Driver themselves- provide the ideal antidote to the regimented, populist genre-exercises that pass for the pinnacles of modern music, and the entire world would doubtless benefit from such an invigorating breath of fresh air.
The world needs Sunday Driver. This is an unassailable fact. This applies to you personally, so, unless you are willing to regret your lamentable inaction for the rest of your empty lives, you know what you need to do. Go forth, listen, absorb, and live anew!
Dr A.F.W Curio