Four guys singing into one microphone. Singing in harmony and unison, weaving their voices together with close-up care.
Darlingside’s singing and instrumentation — mandolin, banjo, violin, cello, acoustic and electric guitars — merge into something both new and traditional. The group’s ingredients include folk music, a cappella singing, indie rock, 1960s to ’90s pop, and even classical chamber music.
Darlingside is bassist Dave Senft; guitarist and banjo player Don Mitchell; classical violinist and folk mandolinist Auyon Mukharji; and cellist and guitarist Harris Paseltiner.
Currently on one of its rare Southern tours, the Boston-based Darlingside will perform Monday at the Manship Theatre.
Darlingside features graduates of Williams College in western Massachusetts. During college, all of them sang together in The Williams Octet a cappella group. They formed Darlingside in 2009, originally as a five-piece indie-rock band.
When Darlingside’s drummer left the fold four years ago — because the touring lifestyle wasn’t for him — the remaining members realized that indie rock wasn’t their true calling.
“The rock format pulled us away from the way that we write songs and arrangements,” Mukharji said. “In a room, we throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks, no mics, no speakers. We come from an a cappella background, so the magic of singing in a room is powerful for us.”
In addition to directing their voices into a single microphone during songwriting sessions, Darlingside does the same during stage performances.
“The first few times we performed without all of the bells and whistles, it felt pretty naked up there,” Mukharji recalled. “But now, it’s just what we do. It’s great to hear each other and sing right in front of a mic.”
During freewheeling writing sessions, Darlingside uses voices and instruments for unconventional ends, creating sonic palettes and soundscapes. Mukharji often employs his violin and mandolin, for instance, to play percussion parts.
“We’re not using a full drum kit, but we’re taking the instruments at our disposal and exercising them in percussive ways,” he said.
The set list for Darlingside’s latest tour contains most of the songs from its new album, “Birds Say.” NPR cited the recording’s “exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop.” American Songwriter complimented the band for balancing the “retro and contemporary with discreet aplomb.”
The September release of “Birds Say” came as great relief to Darlingside.
Finally, they had a recording that, unlike 2012’s “Pilot Machines,” represents the band’s post-indie rock sound.
“We’re proud of the album,” Mukharji said. “We’re honored that it’s gotten all of the praise it’s garnered. It’s been a really wonderful roller coaster since the release.”