The acclaimed music duo, Circle of Sound, launched their second album, Anti Hero, at their first concert in Qatar on Sunday 30 March 2014 at Al Rayyan Theatre, Souq Waqif, as part of the British Festival 2014.

The performance also marked the the first stop on their international tour of their new album Anti Hero. The concert lasted just over an hour, during which time the duo introduced its audience to material from their new album. Circle of Sound members, Soumik Datta and Bernhard Schimpelsberger, where joined by several special guests including Fiona Bevan, Laura Stanford, Rosabella Gregory, Daniel Keane and Nick Atkins. In contrast to their first album which consisted primarily of Sarod and percussions, for this second album Circle of Sound has introduced orchestral strings and live electronics.

Composer, Soumik Datta, said:

What an amazing experience this has been! We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Doha and celebrating the British Festival 2014. The concert was exhilarating and we hope our audience liked it too. The British Council and the people of Qatar have been very kind and welcoming to us, and we hope our gratitude came across in our performance tonight. We are already looking forward to our next visit, in the hopefully not too distant future.’

Datta’s previous collaborations include Beyoncé Knowles, Nitin Sawhney, Raghu Dixit, and Bill Bailey; Olivier award winning Akram Khan, Mercury Award winner Talvin Singh, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, and Javed Akhtar. He is also is a resident artist for the London-based Alchemy Festival and the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation.

The evening’s performance was a finely balanced mix of Oriental timbres with strains of classical Indian ambience, while seamlessly bringing Western melodies into the mix. The performance was not a clash of musical cultures, but more a case of musical distillation. Circle of Sound was very well received by the Doha audience and the band received an almost five minute long standing ovation from a very grateful audience.

Director of British Council Qatar, Martin Hope, said:

We are thrilled that Circle of Sound accepted our invitation to come to Qatar. It’s a great honour for Qatar to be the first stop on the launch of a new album and international tour. The performance captivated the audience by bridging musical styles and language barriers and we are very honoured to have welcomed Circle of Sound in Doha.’

Circle of Sound is a powerful collaboration between composer Soumik Datta on the 19-stringed sarod, and drummer Bernhard Schimpelsberger. Hailed as the ‘vanguard of British Asian music’ (BBC), their sound resonates with deep Indian ragas, urban beats, glockenspiels and a spirited rock attitude.

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Marhaba’s view

Marhaba was invited to attend the Circle of Sound’s concert, which was completely mesmorising and transporting. The New Strait Times called the Circle of Sound a ‘spell binding circle of sound’, which is exactly what the band does with its music. The Circle of Sound is the kind of band you listen to live to understand their uniqueness. Datta, who’s also known as the ‘British Sarod Maestro’, plays a self-built electro-acoustic Sarod, which is a unique in its integration of classical Indian music with live looping, rock, punk and electronica. He has transformed the ancient Indian stringed instrument and introduced to the international music arena. In addition to Datta, Bernhard Schimpelsberger was another intriguing artist who does not only play the drums but also makes brilliant music sounds and rhythms with his mouth including the Indian singing technique, taan, and beat-boxing. Like Datta, Schimpelsberger plays a self-made hybrid drumkit, which allows him break down the barriers between Western, Indian and melodic avant-garde drumming, unifying the rythmic traditions of India and the West in his unique personal drumming style.

The concert was just about the music with very little lyrics, allowing the audience to sit back, relax and unwind. The Circle of Sound played only a few songs with lyrics from their new album including Anti-Hero, The Return and Tokyo Slo Mo, which were beautifully sung by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Fiona Bevan, accompanied by the whispers of Rosabella Gregory, a British pianist, keys player, singer and songwriter. The Circle of Sound is nothing like you’ve ever seen. They’re unique and original, which is what today’s music industry lacks.

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For more information on the British Festival 2014, visit this website.

For more information on the Circle of Sound, visit their website.