Kahun aur Kya – Ghazal album review

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Universal music

INR 150 on iTunes

Released – November 2013

Penned by Ameeta Parsuram ‘Meeta’

Vocals by Ustad Shafqat ali khan and Meeta

The album starts with the ghazal that lends its name to the album Kahu aur kya is a delicately composed and sung by Shafqat ali khan. The excellent tabla and sitar for most part keep the tempo stable and it’s a listeners delight to hear this old form of ghazal gayaki that is long gone. Shafqat ali has a Mehdi hassan style of rendition and that is again quite refreshing. Wafaa ki shaan is my personal favorite from the album for the simple reason that the poetry is quite nicely weaved in the music arrangement. Flute and sarangi is top class and takes you back to the good old days when ghazal represented more, much more than a music album. If my memory serves me right, Meeta has used her takhallus for the first time in this ghazal.

Koi dharkan has Meeta bringing in the ghazal and Shafqat delivering yet another ghazal that is composed with so much old world charm that it shows. Meeta, which is now her style I reckon brings in all the antraas. Owing to the pace of the ghazal it doesn’t sound invasive but too much of this might put off the listener. Not in this case though. Mere mehboob is a nazm that Meeta has already sung in Irshaad sometime back. This time music arrangement is slightly more intimate and the rendition a tad slow. I would still root for the irshaad version though. There is a lot more emotion in this nevertheless.

Zindagi apna safar features rich music arrangement of traditional instruments like Sarod and Sarangi. This might take a bit of time to grow because the composition is not uniform and to give the benefit of doubt to us listeners, we haven’t heard something like this since last few years. Definitely worth a listen. Main behr-e-ishq  starts with Sarangi that will break your heart, it’s so beautiful. This is how a nazm is ideally done. Just by the sarangi and powerful words. It reminded me for some reason of the old Bahadur shah zafar’s nazm that was sung brilliantly by Mohd. Rafi and was featured in Lal qilla na kisi ki aankh ka noor hu. I would have liked this nazm to be longer. In Wahi ishq hai Shafqat ali goes on high notes comfortably and then scales down. Yet again, along with his mellifluous singing what will arrest your attention is the superlative music setting. It is beyond beautiful! Be it the Guitar that surprises us or the excellent tabla or the evergreen Sarangi, all of it comes together with such ease that it might fool you into believing this ghazal to be an easy ghazal to sing.

Thanks to the ever so declining numbers of ghazal albums, most of the people who buy music are oblivious of ghazals but this could be a good beginning if you like ghazals. It will involve time because a ghazal always needs space, to grow.

Go and buy this album to hear how old world charm sounds like, you shall not be disappointed.

You can listen to the album here

Ishq Lamhe Feat. Ustad Rashid Khan – Music review

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Ghazal as a genre has been on a decline since last few years. Blame it on high decibel promotions that other ‘non ghazal’ albums get or the general lack of interest from the music companies, but it is not far from reality to assume that ghazal albums are way too few.

I dug up some old releases and came across this album that tries hard to keep the genre alive

Ghazals are penned by  Ameeta Parsuram “Meeta”

INR 150 on iTunes

Vocals are by none other than Ustad Rashid Khan, his daughter (who makes a debut) Suha khan and Ameeta Parsuram “Meeta”

The entire album has an element of stillness which is well paced out musically and lyrically. Take for example Mujhe irshaad sung by Ustad Rashid Khan, the excellent music arrangement and well spaced out treatment ensures that it becomes easier to listen to Ustad Rashid Khan when he is not taking long taans. Poetry is top class and even though the ghazal is nearly 10 minutes long, you do not feel the weight of the duration and that is a big plus, given that so many ‘items’ camouflaging as ‘ghazals’ these days make you wish they get over with as soon as possible. Pyaar karu ya na karu is a nazm/recitation in the voice of Meeta and is actually a rejoinder to one of her nazms which was featured in the album Irshaad. You can read about it here.

It’s a breath of fresh air (albeit the lyrics are too painful) to hear real poetry that conveys pathos the way only a nazm can convey.  Haan wohi lamhe introduces Suha Khan and you will be pardoned to think that she starts the ghazal in a very shreya ghosal-ish fashion. The music arrangement is contemporary yet spaced out, which is a relief. The tune is easy on the ears and you are sure to like this debut by Suha. Kambhakht dil ne is sung by Ustad Rashid Khan. The use of Sarangi all throughout the album is top class but it is sweeter in this ghazal. The wordplay again is delicious. I would have liked a bit more emotion from Ustad ji because to me he sounded slightly flat in this one. Nevertheless, this is a brilliant ghazal.

Talaash starts with delicious mix of flute, violin and guitar only to be complemented by Meeta’s voice and Suha Khan takes it on from there. Fluid tune and simple singing has kept this ghazal quite hummable and that is just about it. Dastak and Jawab-e-dastak are both nazms which are voiced by Meeta and it’s quite an interesting experiment to feature two tracks that complement each other. Although I must add that the recitation and it’s tone is quite similar to the ones featured in Irshaad. That said, the words hit you hard with their weight and it’s a pleasure to hear such Nazms. Ye kya sochna has brilliant Sarod and violin starting it and Ustad Rashid Khan lending his voice. He sounds much more comfortable in this ghazal and the feel of the ghazal is intact, undiluted. The ghazal touches upon the loss of a beloved and how everything feels incomplete as a result of that. Labon pe ishq concludes the album. Meeta brings in the ghazal and Ustad ji tries his best to accommodate ghazal gayaki to his already perfect self. The only thing off-putting to me was the music arrangement which came off as cluttered to me at times. The lead up to the first line of antra is done by Meeta.

All and all a must have album not only to listen to Ustad Rashid khan singing ghazals but for the simple reason that this one tries to stay close to the genre of Ghazal that is fast dying. You need an example of that? This album was released in April, 2013.

You can listen to the album here

 

Music review – AB – An album by Abhijeet

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AB
Lyrics – Sameer, Abhijeet
Music – Abhijeet
Times Music
INR 96 on iTunes
 

The album starts with Koi raja na thee rani with mellifluous singing by Abhijeet, exactly the way we remember him. The song has a quaint charm of the times gone by, when we used to look at the inlay cards of the cassettes to find out the song from Abhijeet just so that we can hear them and then sing them to impress girls in our college. Composition wise, the music setting doesn’t intrude with Abhijeet’s singing and am sure that is intentional. Not that it’s bad in anyway.

We then come across Bujhe Bujhe, the only song that is penned by Abhijeet in the album. Although the singing is as you would expect it to be, at times you can feel that the arrangement is cluttered a bit.

Yet another song that will remind us of 90s, Gul chand sitare is pleasant to the ears and has the trademark Abhijeet singing. Lyrics by Sameer are quite venomous for the lover who has probably ditched her lover. The music arrangement could have been better here.

Pankhuri ki palki has good amount of guitars to keep company to Abhijeet who sings well but the lyrics have a major 90s block and the song fails to register. Just a song that would play as you would complete whatever you are doing without taking much notice of the same. The song is not intrusive, mind you and that is largely due to hummable tune and Abhijeet’s singing.

Reh jaate hain has about 9 minutes long and is paced very well. The song is filled with emotions and is not your typical ‘romantic’ song which we come to expect from Abhijeet. It’s a song from a loving parent to her/his offspring and is done beautifully! It is that song in the car which, when it plays will have everyone quiet and may be sobbing as they remember their parents but noone will change the song.

Zara Zara is a peppy offering that I felt was quite plain and didn’t affect me at all. May be it was put to smoothen out the heaviness after the ‘reh jaate hain’ song. In spite of a relatively better arrangement than most of the songs of this album, the song just didn’t register. The lyrics are

The song Na lafzon ki zabaani starts with the trademark ‘hey hey hey’ from Abhijeet. The whistle that follows is a tad embarrassing and should have been performed better. The lyrics are trademark 90s and the setting is sober. The only thing that will stay with you is that it reminds you of a good old hindi film song.

I don’t know about you but I am terribly nostalgic about 1990s and this album took me back to those good days of audio cassettes, ‘mix tapes’, dubbing etc.

Had Abhijeet tried anything else, I would have said ‘Perhaps he should have stuck to his Bollywood soothing style’. In this case, I am actually thankful that he stuck to what he is best at. The album has a soothing undertone mostly and I would recommend it as a ‘buy’ simply because of the era it took me back to. If you are not a 90s kid, even then listen to it to find out how the songs used to sound when dubstep and cheap remix templates weren’t used to compose songs. It was released on 9th May 2014.

You might not want to listen to this simple album daily, but you will not be disappointed to have this in your car as and when you go for long drives.

Abhijeet, Sing more!

You can listen to the album online here

Music of Ankhon Dekhi

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Ankhon Dekhi
Lyrics – Varun Grover
Music – Sagar Desai
Times Music
INR 72, iTunes
 

The album starts with aaj laagi laagi nai dhoop and the song arrests you thanks to the beautiful Sarangi. Kailash kher can sing songs like this one even when he is fast asleep and dreaming french dreams, so that is nothing new that he effortlessly cruises through this song as well. The song has a hummable feel to it.  Next up is Aayi bahar and again what strikes in this peppy song is the brilliant use of khartaals in the beginning and the superlative Sarangi in this song that has a nomadic feel to it. Kailash kher lends his voice to this song and sings it well. My second pick of the album Kaise sukh soyein is composed with so much love that it shows.  Sung superbly by Ronkini Gupta, this one is or keeps! Yaad saari features Kailash kher (again!) along with some good backup vocals. The atmosphere is insightful and even though the song fades out way too soon, the catch is in the lyrics….yaad meri galtiyon si khaley re khaley…Very nice! Hakka bakka has a brass band start and it adds to the comical treatment throughout. It’s good to hear Shaan after long especially when he goes off-key in between (intentionally). You won’t hear this song in discos but be rest assured, it will add to the pace and feel of the film. Mansheel Gujral sings Dheeme re which is best song from the album. Heart breaking lyrics treated to some exquisite music arrangement. I found the feel of babul morai in the lyrics but that could be just me. Find it yourself.

With projects like Ankhon dekhi, you can be rest assured that the music of the film adds to the storyline and takes it further (in most cases) rather than presenting audience an ‘item’ to ogle and forget later. Sagar desai has presented a decent album to us that is hummable and won’t jar the pace of the film.

I have few issues with the album

1. Kailash kher, SO much of Kailash kher makes the album very ‘Saiyyan-Allah ke bande’ predicatable

2. Why no song by Namit das? Mr. Kapoor reply! :)

My picks – Dheeme re, kaise sukh hoyein and aaj laagi laagi nai dhoop

Ankhon dekhi

Humnasheen – Ghazals by Shreya Ghosal

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Shreya Ghosal has teamed up with Deepak Pandit to give us a ghazal album Humnasheen.

The album starts with Ye Aasman. With rich music arrangement (that remains so throughout the album), this ghazal is treated like a typical ghazal and that’s a relief. The ghazal has just the right amount of ‘thehraav’ that you come to associate with ghazals, real ghazals. The use of violin in between reminds us of those Jagjit Singh Ghazals during the golden period of ghazal gayaki. Shreya is predictably at ease in higher or lower notes and her neat singing takes the ghazal higher. The use of Mohan veena is exemplary as well.

Naam likh kar has a soothing start thanks to a delicate tête-à-tête between Sitar and Guitar. The tête-à-tête continues well throughout the ghazal. The ghazal is slow and treads well. With good amount of pauses, this ghazal is reserved for those long evenings when you have memories as your companion.

Ye dil jo has a flute beginning. It’s refreshing to hear a ghazal composed like this in 2014 because such efforts are on their way southwards. The use of tabla and the overall feel of the song (and tarana in between) will enthrall you if you are one of those who like ghazal and not a techno fest with ‘slow’ singing.

Raaton ko The ghazal starts with Shreya’s tarana. This is a pure romantic ghazal and the able use of Sitar and Tabla among other things paints a perfect picture of the same. I somehow didn’t like the use of violin in this ghazal though.

Maahi rok na has a delightful beginning, almost thumri like. It’s a delight to hear Shreya reciting those lines in old fashion gayaki. Sarangi finally makes an entry in this geet. Keeping the overall pace of the album, this one falls flat to my ears. (The sarangi riff in between does remind you of ‘maine to tere tere ve chareya doriyan’ part of Patakha guddi!). The digital claps in the background worsen the effect. Passable track.

Meri Talaash starts like one those old songs which were sung by talented singers in big halls. Even though the irritating claps do make a continuous appearance in this song as well, the classy singing by Shreya along with a splendid Sarangi saves this ghazal.

Shamma jalti rahi starts with Shreya again melodiously reciting lines in good old style of gayaki. The treatment of this ghazal appeared a tad filmi to me but there is decent amount of stillness (mainly due to the structure of the tune) to make up for that. Will I listen to this again? No. Is it good? Yes.

Kuch rishtey will hold your attention due to it’s lyrics and sitar. The flute and singing of Shreya Ghosal is, as expected brilliant.

After the 2011 released Irshaad, I couldn’t find a single ghazal album that I would be happy to put my money on. Finally, Humnasheen breaks that jinx and everyone associated with the album should be proud of this effort which sticks to the brief (of ghazals) more often than not and doesn’t miss a note.

Highly recommended for ghazal lovers and lovers of ‘slow’ songs yo bro! :)

Lyrics credit

Ye aasmaan – Manoj Muntashir

Naam likh kar – Vaibhav modi

Ye jo dil pyar ka – Manoj Muntashir

Raaton ko – Ahmed Anees

Maahi rokna aaj (geet) – Manoj Muntashir

Teri Talash – Manoj Muntashir

Shamma jalti rahi – Manoj Muntashir

Kuch rishtey – Ajay jhingran

Queen Between – Susheela Raman

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This review was first featured here

Susheela raman is not a new voice thanks to her sticky voice that doesn’t leave you well after the song ends. Her recent offering is ‘Queen between’.

It’s an interesting potpourri of  her English songwriting with the Sufi Qawaali and Rajasthani music. Her collaborators on the album are: Pakistan’s Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwal  and Rajasthan Maestros Kutle Khan and Nathoo Solanki, as well as longstanding accomplices French Cellist Vincent Segal and Producer/Guitarist Sam Mills.

The album starts with the magnificent sharaabi that features foot tapping fusion between Susheela Raman and the qawwals of rizwan-muazzim troop who bring the house down with their bits. The recitation of the Urdu couplets in a ‘not so urdu’ style might put the purists off but it fits in the overall structure of the song very well. The use of Khartaals is wise and melodious. Corn maiden has Susheela all over. With ease, Susheela gives a song that has restlessness written all over it. The song towards the end is euphoric and mesmerizing, unlike anything we have heard in a long time in India. Riverside starts with a melancholic guitar and good amount of ‘nagara’ drums for company. The singing is top class and the backup vocals by Kutle khan add quite a rustic feel to the song. The lyrics by Mills/Susheela are deep throughout the album and demand your attention especially in this song. Sajana has the qawwal group coming back to offer us and Urdu-English offering. You cannot miss the exquisite claps throughout the song, a song that conveys longing for the beloved. Susheela compliments the qawwals ably and her calls of Sajana might actually surprise you! The qawwals in between recite couplets which lend the much expected pathos to the song. Northstar is a lightly composed song and gives you a feel of someone singing it on the roof of her house watching the sky. The song has a calming effect on senses and leaves you insightful. The Queen between has a theatrical sound to it with the arrangement (accentuated by excellent backup vocals at places) that is grand and execution that is spot on! Karunei is a tamil song that features morchang. The song is more like a recitation and keeps the soul of the traditional karunei intact. Taboo is an approx 12 min offering that features the qawwals along with good bass and cello arrangement. The stillness of the entire composition creates an eerie atmosphere. The structure of the song is different than anything we have heard in ‘non-filmi’ albums in a long time. The singing is top class by Susheela and watch out for the backup vocals!

Overall a brilliant album in terms of trying something new. We cannot recall anything similar being tried by any band in a long time and that’s why it is all the more important that more people listen to this. It’s a new sound with which we must be a bit patient to begin with and give due credit to Susheela raman, Rizwan and Muazzam troop, sam mills and everyone else who has come together to present us this album.

Thumbs Up!

Complete album credits

1. Sharabi.
susheela raman: vocals
rizwan-muazzam qawals: vocals, harmonium, handclaps
sam mills: guitar, bass, keyboards
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: kartal, backing vocals
aref durvesh: tabla
vincent segal: cello

2. Corn Maiden
susheela raman: vocals
sam mills: guitar, bass
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: morchang, kartal, drums, backing vocals
aref durvesh: tabla
rana ram bhil: vocal textures

3. Riverside
susheela raman: vocals
sam mills: guitar, bass, bebot
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: drums, backing vocals
rana ram bhil: vocal textures

4. Sajana
susheela raman: vocals
rizwan-muazzam qawals: vocals, harmonium, handclaps
sam mills: guitar, bass
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: kartal, backing vocals
aref durvesh: tabla

5. North Star
susheela raman: vocals
sam mills: guitar

6. Queen Between
susheela raman: vocals
sam mills: guitar, keyboards
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: bapang, drums, backing vocals
vincent segal: cello
rana ram bhil: vocal textures, narh flute

7. Karunei
susheela raman: vocals
sam mills: guitar
kutle khan: morchang
aref durvesh: tabla

8. Taboo
susheela raman: vocals
rizwan-muazzam qawals: vocals, harmonium, handclaps
sam mills: guitar
nathoo solanki: nagara drums
kutle khan: morchang, backing vocals
aref durvesh: tabla
vincent segal: cello
charlie jones: bass
rana ram bhil: vocal textures

Conफessions

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Bas mann kiya, likh dia…mera blog, meri marzi :)

1. I liked shahid kapoor’s dance in tu mere agal bagal hai
2. I didn’t like the song ‘tu mere agal bagal hai’
3. I loved saree ke fall sa, kabhi match kia re. I love it too much
4. I love the ‘people on the floor, come and get some more’ part from that akshay kumar starrer film. Not sure what the name is.
5. I took interest in films only because i liked gulaal.
6. I dont like black friday
7. I loved listening to babydoll main sonay di
8. Dont read too much into the ‘listening’ part of the point above.
9. I want to be that person who is able to identify the ragas raags in which a song is composed.
10. I love my hometown Lucknow
11. I wish I grew up in bombay. Why? Because then i would have learnt a thing or two which were not considered good in lucknow. (Music or perhaps film making or what the heck, acting?)
12. I have taken on fights because of anurag kashyap. Some people hate me because they know of my obvious loooouv for him.
13. I know that point number 12 doesnt matter but I just had to get it out. :)
14. I joined twitter because of Rajeev Masand.
15. I started faking it on twtr soon after I joined.
16. I started dissing karan johar because I wanted to sound and be all cool.
17. I started dissing anurag kashyap more or less for the reason mentioned in point 16.
18. I secretly (ok not so secretly anymore) hate point number 16 because the reality is, I really like karan johar. WYSIWYG ka best example and man what an eye for presentation! I know this doesnt matter but *salute*!
19. I met Onir after I joined twitter and a certain discussion around ‘my brother nikhil’ made me like karan johar so so so much!
20. Even after coming to Bombay, i dont have guts to pursue what i want to.
21. I crib a lot about the point number 20
22. I am always looking for music. If you have any recommendation, any genre, any language, anything, be kind and share!
23. I cannot get enough of senraan ra bairiya
24. I want to meet Rohail Hyatt at least once for a full day and want to talk talk talk talk!
25. I have this secret list of some people who are a part of my family now. I always try and impose myself on them. Yes. I want to talk to them a lot and regularly. Yes, you know who you guys are. No the list doesnt stop at 25.
26. I get jealous as hell if others talk to the people mentioned in point above.
27. I love the way Atif Aslam sounds in Charkha nolakha and Channa
28. This is not the only conफession post I will write.

Sorry, but I HAD to say all this.

Ok, bye.

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