Alliance Francaise Bangalore celebrated World Music Day and celebrating with them were musicians Suchitra Lata, Trilochan Kampli and Sameer Rao who came together to perform as Soular Flare. The band has adopted a fusion style and conjures a wicked mix of pop, classical tabla and flute – they call it western music with an Indian soul.
Suchitra Lata is a singer/songwriter and musician; she was initially known for her skills playing the veena, but now she sings in English and Kannada and has gained immense popularity as a performer and spends time with Soular Flare, alongside her studio album, playback singing and other international collaborations.
The band also belongs to Trilochan Kampli and Paulson Joseph, both prodigious musicians who have dedicated their lives to the cause. Trilochan’s debut concert was at the age of 12 and Paulson is known for his unique style on the electric sitar and a precise sense of shruti.
For the show Paulson was unavailable but filling his space was flautist Sameer Rao, a student of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia.
The half hour performance given to the musicians to showcase their music is a tight window and there isn’t too much conversation or pauses as they dive straight into the music.
The band started off with a track Suchitra composed called “Siren”; the song introduced the audience to the essence of Soular Flare, a rich tapestry of classical music woven with electronic sounds. And while the flute and tabla were strong pillars that brought this performance together, the vocals were a weak link that threatened to overpower any of the other elements. It was too loud, which made it difficult to hear the mellow, classical notes.
“Picture Is Perfect” followed next, again written and composed by Suchitra and already been released in her album “Love Kite”. They also performed “Wings Of Being” and “Thin Blue Line” which came and went without creating a scene.
There was an instrumental performance, where Trilochan and Sameer took centre-stage and put out some excellent jugalbandi. In a classical format there is usually an alap or a khayaal, so they started with authentic elements of classical music and then progressed into a western song – it was an experiment to blend in authentic elements of Carnatic classical and western music, which worked beautifully. Known for his crisp technique and effortless skill, Trilochan makes playing the tabla look as simple as snapping your fingers.
The most interesting performance of the afternoon was the “Shakespeare Rap”, where Shakespeare’s 30th sonnet has been adapted and his 65th sonnet translated to be brought together in this one song that Suchitra belted out in rap.
What started out as interest in the idea, was quickly replaced with horror as the rapping continued. Soular Flare is a band that can be a fusion favourite — they have language, the right classical elements and some committed musicians — the question is to make them sound like they are one unit, to let one musician continue from where the other left off.