Radiant Darling
Radiant Darling
home bio shows listen albums photos press


Press Reviews

“Ami Saraiya… has turned from her earlier group’s swampy funk toward a much more enigmatic and hard to pin down sound, which is alternately sultry and alluring and heartbreakingly sad throughout the impressive ‘Cryptomnesia’ album.” — Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times

“Further proof that Chicago is

the center of the musical universe, Radiant Darling blazes forth with an album that’s one part gothic Americana (y’know, Trailer Bride), one part gypsy jazz (they even do a Django Reinhardt piece), one part art rock and, well, lots of other things thrown in. It all makes for an invigorating blend that is impossible to turn off. These songs spin spells that can’t be broken. Radiant Darling has created an alternate universe that is exceedingly enticing. I might, indeed, want to live here all the time, if I wasn’t scared out of my mind at the prospect of doing so. The minimalist production really helps here, leaving plenty of space between the mostly acoustic instruments and raucous percussion. I could be wrong, but it sounds like much of the music was recorded in one take. I hear a little bleedover between some of the instruments. If that’s merely a studio trick (or unintended result) I’m just that much more impressed. It’s old. It’s new. It’s indescribably delicious. And I just can’t say enough. Review by Jon Worley - Aiding & Abetting

“Upon first listen, you get the feeling

you’ve heard these songs before — not in their present incarnations, sure, but they resonate somewhere. The exceptional thing is that while they sound familiar, they sound entirely new. If I were to choose one adjective to describe Cryptomnesia it would be haunting. And that’s just after listening to it. Delve into the lyrics and you get into some downright uncanny territory….If you took Billie Holiday, added a little Lhasa, some Bjork, and a smattering of Tom Waits (just to taste), you’d have a vague idea of what Ami Saraiya’s voice sounds like. It’s full-bodied and playful, edgy and lithe; it roars and growls, belts and thrashes, and, every so often, purrs. It settles on no particular mood for more than a few seconds, continually rousing the ears with its contortionist capabilities….”
— Kate Steele at Coke Machine Glow
Read the full review

“Ami Saraiya of Radiant Darling

has one of those voices that gives you a bit of pause when you first hear it because it seems that so few vocalists truly have that special something that can turn heads on their own.”
— Aaron Coleman, Almost Cool
Read the full review

“It’s difficult not to compare

Radiant Darling to The Arcade Fire, Bjork, or even Squirrel Nut zippers. There are two reasons for this: Ami Saraiya has a torch singer quality reminiscent of both Billie Holliday (in sound and attitude) and Nico (attitude only); and the music is mostly rickety, ethereal, Old World and acoustic….the exotic South Asian trip-hop beats and Indian chanting on ‘Versadh’ are a nice touch, and Saraiya’s voice really does grab the imagination.”
reveiw by 75orless.com

“Radiant Darling is tender pop music

featuring affecting narrataive passages that should be met with much acclaim”
Empty Bottle, Chicago

“Radiant Darling embraces the

emotional and ethereal, taking in their atmospheric and internal environment to produce music that transcends the big picture and places itself directly in the moment. Ami Saraiya’s voice is absolutely haunting while her lyrics transport listeners into a world of gypsies and intelligent tough-girl prettiness.”
Chris Anderson, Last Alley Productions

Cryptomnesia Review

hillsChicago band Radiant Darling have released a debut album, Cryptomnesia. Before you learn more about the band and their CD lets quickly answer this question from Evanston resident Edgar Puthuff, a retired squadron leader of 101st Airborne division.

Q: What does the word Cryptomnesia mean?

A: I'm glad you asked Edgar. Cryptomnesia is the appearance in consciousness of memory images which are not recognized as such but which appear as original creations. Information that was previously learned and is consciously forgotten may be indefinitely stored within the subconscious. According to some experts in the field of psychiatry Cryptomnesia is not only a normal mental process but a necessary one as well. If it were not for this process the human mind would always be cluttered or overloaded with random information. The mind would become overloaded and literally explode.

Question answered, lets move on to a short history of the band Radiant Darling, before telling you something about their new compact disc, and then answering another question:

Formed by vocalist/songwriter Ami Saraiya in the winter of 2002 with guitarist/programmer Scott Blackburn the band was an expression of Saraiya's desire to escape the funk and R&B preoccupations of her previous band Pelvic Delta and create something more in tune with the pop, rock and Indian folk music she'd listened to when she was growing up.

Saraiya first met Blackburn in Circle Pines, Michigan and they soon started working on songs together. "Scott has a wealth of colorful experience that he immediately tapped into when we first started Radiant Darling" says Saraiya, "He's been freight train hopping, worked the Alaskan waters as a fisherman. He has this incredible zeal for life and is always filled with fantastic and odd stories about quarks, elephants, and human nature which have been a great inspiration for the songwriting."

The two musicians recruited percussionist, Ben Gray, and violinist, Savoir Faire and played their first show at the Heartland Café at the end of the year. Later they added double bass player Marc Piane and went on to woo audiences at Chicago's finest venues, including the Metro, Fitzgerald's, Empty Bottle, Martyrs and Beat Kitchen. Radiant Darling was well on its way.

By 2004 the band decided it was high time they started recording some of their tunes, which they duly did. The result was nine tracks that so impressed independent label Tense Forms that they agreed to release them as a CD under the title Cryptomnesia.

Cryptomnesia is pop music that has one eye on the America's rich history of Jazz and Blues, and another on the zeitgeist. Its delicious mix of rag time, 80s pop, lullabies and Indian folk music is married with Saraiya's easy associations with Bjork, Johnny Cash and Jeff Buckley.

Perhaps the most alluring thing about Cryptomnesia is the ease with which the band genre hop while maintaining focus on their unique brand of folk/pop. The Otherside shows off Saraiya's impressive vocal range, while stand out track Familiar floats at it's own whimsical pace over evanescing vocal melodies. Versadh shows the band's diversity by etching trip-hop onto the negative with a Gujarati sample and breakbeat fade out.

The final product is raw, worn and haunting. We might, if we were being obscure and esoteric, compare it to scratch jazz jammed out of a dank cellar under the auspices of a surveillance camera with lens flare. Lets just be colorful and comparative and say that Cryptomnesia is an expression of what might happen if Tom Waits played 45s on a gramophone record player while PJ Harvey compared notes with Billy Holiday.

As of 2005, the band has continued to perform and create new songs with an emotionally charged yet stripped down version of its former self including Ami Saraiya, Ben Gray, and newest member and guitarist/songwriting master Casey Meehan. As heard in his own solo project, Casey's crooked circus and New Orleans flare certainly adds enormous depth to the Radiant Darling sound. You probably don't want to go too long without seeing this collaboration live.

Now that we've told you a bit about the band and the CD why don't we wrap things up with this question from Milton Patch, a telemarketer from Vermont:

Q: Why is there an illustration of an elephant on the cover of the CD?

A: An excellent question Milton and one that's asked more frequently than the first question from Edgar Puthuff at the beginning of this Biography. The answer is simple; the title track of the CD is based on the true story of a circus elephant by the name of Mary who was hanged in 1916 for the killing of her handler Red Elridge in Erwin, Tennessee. Elephants are synonymous with memory so the title of the CD and the illustration are related. It wasn't just a random juxtaposition of an image and word just to clear that up. Radiant Darling's Ami Sarayia's parents are first generation Indians. Sarayia is proud of her Indian heritage and as you probably know elephants are an ingrained part of Indian culture. Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom, has an elephant's head.

Cryptomnesia will be released on Tense Forms

Bio & Review by Epropaganda