CokeStudio Pakistan – Season 7, Episode 5 – Review

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Mujhe Ek baar – The wonderful Abbas Ali Khan who enthralled us in Phool Banro earlier this season returns with a modern ghazal treated somewhat too much. The qalaam is superlative but the overall track sounds overproduced. The singing is top class and I am in love with the element of finality with which this track starts. The guest musician here is Shallum Xavier.This is an qalaam by  Hazrat Baba Gulzar Sabri and Abbas voiced this first in his album Tamam alam mast.  Hear it a couple of times and you can’t help but feel Abbas’ voice had to really fight through the cacophony that follows him throughout the track more of less. Disappointing.

Kheriyaan - Sajid ali teams with Niazi brothers to lend pain to the ever so beautiful ‘Heer’. You don’t have to consult ‘word meanings’ to understand the immense pain of the song. Barely 2:23 mins in the song, you will know what I am talking about. So much pain, such ease of singing…beautiful! If you do feel like knowing more about the song go to cokestudio.com.pk where the meaning of the song can be found under ‘song info’. I still don’t understand why there are no subtitles? That aside, I recommend you get a taste of this beautiful composition. 

Pehla Pyar – Jimmy khan goes solo for this song (which is penned by him as well) accompanied by the guest musicians Omran Shafique and the magician with a flute, Sajid Ali. It is wonderful seeing Omran sing along at times, Give him a microphone already! The singing is sweet and the overall feel of the song is innocent. Backup Vocals by Sara, Momin and Zoe are synced well with the song. In a song that is less than 4 minutes, one does come to expect some magic (given the kind of musicians at work here). It is what we can call a bonfire song. The song is hummable but not ‘CokeStudio Pakistan level hummable’.

Mitti da Pehlwan – Jawwad Ahmad, accompanied by Omran, Jaffer hussain gives us the most powerful song of the episode. The voice of Jawwad sahab and the singing style is laced with nostalgia. Everyone of us has grown up listening one or two artists who sound what could be described as musical equivalent of pure gold. The song talks of the arrogance in mere mortals who think they are invincible whereas they are just fragile creatures of clay. As if Jawwad sahab was not enough, we saw the backup vocalists give their best so far in this song. Omran Shafique has been the best guest musician so far in the show and he raises the song many folds with this part here as well. A winner song!

Only 2 songs stand out in this episode and I hope we are done with all the weak songs for now. Thank God for Niazi brothers, Jawwad Ahmad, Sajid ali and Omran Shafique!

CokeStudio Pakistan Season 7, Episode 4 – Review #CokeStudio7

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Shakar Wandaan Re – The track starts with Tanveer Hussain’s mesmerizing banjo and you won’t be judged for thinking there are good things in store. Asrar keeps it light and hits it out of the park! Everything is spot on and the track is ably supported by the backup trio of Momin durrani, Rachel Viccaji and the ever so over-emoting Sara haider. In fact, towards the later part of every antara, it is sheer delight to hear the backup vocalists take the song higher by their splendid singing. A job very well done, the song doesn’t sound over produced like Asrar’s first song in the season. There is a treat for music lovers towards the end of the song by Asrar. All the signs point to us that we have another singer who is ready to be commoditized like Rahat fateh ali khan. I hope Asrar doesn’t fall in that trap though.

Ambwa TalayJaved Bashir & Humera Channa lend their voices for this song. There is a goosebumps inducing quality that braj ki boli has and we saw ample proof of that in the season 6 as well. In this song, the accuracy and fondness that Humera Channa brings to the composition is delicious to say the list. The tune dovetails into the tenderly composed (In Raga Pilu, I guess) song from bandini Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyya ko babul.  Javed Bashir sounds like a jogi who provides the much needed thehraav to your senses. A special mention of Jaffer Hussain on Clarinet is very much in order because it creates the right sense of occasion and not surprisingly, it is used towards the beginning of the song. God how I wish we poach Humera Channa to sing some songs on this side of the border!

Dheere Dheere Dheere – The guest musician credit has the name Omran Shafique so not surprisingly, there is a hell lot of infectious guitar in the song but that is not the only good thing on offer here. The somewhat iconic song from the years gone by performed by Zoheb hassan introduced us to the Zoheb who grunts, dances and doesn’t mind having a great time while singing.His limitations were on display in ‘chehra’ and that hasn’t changed here but the attitude is quite nice to see. The song has cute 1990s lyrics and don’t worry if it paints an image of a red Cadillac Eldorado an  long country side road driven by a boy who is  announcing to the world that he is quite high on love. I found the clarinet in the song lacking on the impact front, everything else is top drawer. This is how you recreate nostalgia with a pinch of contemporary!

Bone Shaker – Performed by Usman Riaz, Babar Ali Khanna and the flute magician Sajid Ali, the rhythm which the trio have showered  leaves us asking for more and thereby taking me to my only grouse – the track should have been longer. It is a beautiful piece. What I would give to hear more from Sajid ali and Babar Ali khanna together for a longer duration! Usman Riaz has already made a lot of news before CokeStudio Pakistan (Google him!) and we cannot wait for more from him. The highlight of the track for me is the tarana-jugalbandi between Babar ali khanna and Usman, Thumbs up!

An episode that picks up from where the splendid episode 3  left, the creators and the musicians deserve all the praise for this one. When you come across songs like these, you just don’t want to season to end!

CokeStudio Season 7, Episode 3 – Review

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Sunn Ve BaloriMeesha Shafi kick starts the episode with this song and the way it begins, you would be hard pressed to think if you have heard so much attitude off late in any song? It is not surprising because Omran Shafique is on Guitar with Ustad Tafu (who incidentally, composed the original Noor Jahan’s song of which, this is a re-creation) on Tabla. Omran makes you want to get up and rush to the nearest shop to pick up guitars. Meesha is top class and so are the accompanying musicians. Not a speck goes wrong in this song. This will go down as one of the highlights of CokeStudio Pakistan across all the seasons.

Statutory warning – Wear seat belts, yes ‘belts’ before you hit ‘play’. This song will make you flyyyyyyy!

Nadiya – When you are done with bringing the house down with Sunn ve balori, sit back and relax with a song so soothing it can put you to sleep. Give it up for Jimmy Khan and Rahma Ali for bringing so much freshness to a song that has 50s-60s film era sound woven deep. Extra points to the producers String to set the song the way they have. Rahma impresses a lot, especially because she  doesn’t ‘show’ that she is singing an old fashioned song by going nasal or any such drama. Jimmy has an innocent voice and I would wait to hear more from him. Such fluid singing, easy overalls and the beautiful setting reinforces our faith that everything isn’t wrong after all with Season 7. Two thumbs up for Hamza Jaffri on Ukulele and Arsalan Rabbani on Melodica for creating an endearing atmosphere of innocence which we all correlate with the times that have gone by..

Jhoolay lal – What a wonderful start! Rubab, flute and guitar sounds ethereal to say the least and we hear Sajjad ali with Fariha Pervez paying a somewhat differently styled ode to Jhoolay lal. Owing to the lovely start, one does feel that the song will take off in a typical cokestudio pakistan fashion and the chap on Harmonium (Arsalan Rabbani) makes you believe that it will happen. What this song lacks is the failure to do so. You will not be blamed to think that the song was not well prepared by the singers, especially Fariha Pervez. The sound towards the middle (and in all antras)  is over produced and borderline cacophonous. This song is brilliant in parts, the sum of it, unfortunately is severely lacking. Considering the previous two songs, this song doesn’t even sound worthy enough to be included in the season itself! Major disappointment.

Dost – The most ‘by the book’ ghazal that Mahotarma Abida Parveen has sung on CokeStudio Pakistan. Yet again, Sajid Ali on flute and Mr. Khanna on tabla are  brilliant. Most people of our generation will have bragging rights when we tell the future generations that we lived in the era when Mahotarma Abida Parveen used to perform. Even though the composition is largely ‘ghazal like’, a greedy me was waiting for Mahotarma Abida Parveen to take those powerful alaaps. That said, I still don’t understand how and why my eyes welled up when I saw Abida Parveen raise her hands towards the end of the ghazal. A sign that you, the listener is connected to the ultimate powers that be via Mahotarma Abida Parveen. Like Gulzar Sahab once said (while introducing the album ‘Abida Sings Kabir), आबिदा कबीर की मार्फ़त पुकारती हैं उसे , हम आबिदा की मार्फ़त उसे बुला लेते हैं.

All and all a fantastic episode and kudos to the producers and the entire team for raising the bar with every episode. Hope this doesn’t stop!

Take a bow, CokeStudio Pakistan!

CokeStudio Pakistan, Season 7, Episode 2

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With the first episode hitting the right note for about 50% and horribly distracting screen heroics, we move to the episode 2 of the Season 7. With exciting artist line up, this one promised a lot in advance itself!

Washmallay – A traditional Baloch song that witnessed the reunion of the old gang of ‘Komal – Akhtar chanal zahiri’ along with a new member ‘Momin durrani’. My first thought was – Just 6 minutes! How can we satiate ourselves with just 6 minutes of Akhtar Chanal Zahiri? Not fair! However, this bomb of a song blew the socks off and I cannot write enough about the way Momin has performed the song. It was a sheer pleasure to hear Komal who I thought held the song very well and thank you Akhtar Chanal Zahiri for mesmerizing us with your raw energy. No, a little over 6 minute duration of the song didn’t affect me at all. A song that has got the ‘Dannah pa dannah’ hysteria back! What a thunderous start to the episode! Mwaaaaaah!

Phool Banro – I have been waiting since long (for the reasons unknown to me) to hear Humaira channa in cokestudio and boy does she make a splash! Teaming here with Abbas Ali Khan, she gives us what could very well be the song of the season. Just about everything is perfect. The flute, the setting, the subtle overalls, the singing, the presentation, EVERYTHING! It is a simple wedding melody from Rajasthan that is so beautifully done that it might make you all teary eyed. For me, the best song of the season so far. The confident Abbas added a lot of melodious brilliance to the song in a way that is hard to describe in words. His alaap towards the end reminds you of all things which are good with music.

Chehra – Zoheb hassan performed one of his songs that was released in 1984. This effort is commendable but perhaps the choice of episode to put this forward was not all that great. The song, when compared to the entire episode comes across as ordinary. What does work is the excellent music arrangement that doesn’t sound over produced and retains the 80s pop feel. That is just about it.

Charkha – Javed Bashir and some excellent back up vocal singers lend their voice to this ‘sound of nation’ version of Charkha. Of course it doesn’t quite have that raw energy that the Atif and Qayaas’ version had, but this one is no less. Mostly because Javed Bashir takes the song many notches higher. What a delight to see his harkats on ‘kudey’. The ever so amazing Tanveer Tafu presents us with such a ‘strummy’ rubaab that it is hard to take your eyes off the same.  Splendid song!

Since I have already given up and am quite sure that those distracting screen heroics come as a part and parcel of this season, I am not commenting much on the over the top display of the same, especially in Washmallay.

All and all, a top class episode 2 and I cannot wait for the entire season. Hope the good work continues

Washmallay!

For all about CokeStudio Pakistan Season 7, check out – http://cokestudio.com.pk

P.S. – Where are the subtitles in all videos dear Cokestudio Pakistan?

CokeStudio Pakistan Season 7, Episode 1

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Yes, I gave in to the temptation to write about CokeStudio pakistan, Season 7, Episode 1

First, some background.

If you have time to kill, you can check previous posts in this blog about CokeStudio pakistan. I have been blamed as being a bit ‘too pro pakistan’ when it comes to CokeStudio Pakistan. I have my reasons whenever I say that CokeStudio pakistan > CokeStudio India. Apart from offering us various experiments which married folk with contemporary, recitals, rap and what not, CokeStudio Pakistan has always been all about subtlety.

And then Season 7 happened.

Starting with Sab akho ali ali by Asrar, I was shocked at the outrageous display of clumsiness. In good olden days, we used to see a smile at best being leaked by the musicians/artists even if all they wanted was to jump on the floor and what happened here? Almost everyone (including that irritating drummer) was busy emoting as if they are rooting for the most fake excitement award at the Oscars. Coming down to the song. The guitar parts are excellent and Asrar is just top class, as usual. The thing with CokeStudio Pakistan is that it used to showcase the best song from an artist and take it a notch higher. In this case, well lets just conveniently agree that this isn’t Asrar’s best.

Then Comes Sajjad Ali with Tum Naraaz ho,  a song that is simple and easy to hum, with excellent flute throughout. Kudos for the composition and 5 thumbs down with the over the top emoting by everyone, especially the back up singers! Why am I being nosy about the visuals? In good old days, the videos used to come across slick, well rehearsed and a proof that everyone has worked on their bit to make the song what it is. The visuals, the jumpy overalls of the band at play just disrupts everything! It is not a bad song, just that it isn’t the greatest song choice to be performed at CokeStudio Pakistan stage.

Then we get up close and personal with Niazi Brothers as they give us Lai Beqadraa Nal Yaari, a superbly paced song with everything just at the right place. Somehow, the moment the song starts, you are sure that this is going to be one hell of a song. The arrangement, the flute by Sajid ali and even the over the top drummer behaved himself in the song! Yet again, what lets this song down is the atrocious display of fake excitement, अमर ब्रास बैंड lighting and the ‘low cost’ emoting displayed by the band. Seriously, what on earth is wrong with the back up singers? The back up singers did a fantastic job singing wise in this song without a doubt though.

Probably the best was saved for last. I believe that  God descends wherever a good fusion concert takes place. Not surprisingly, when Abida Parveen and Ustad Raees Khan decided to sit and fuse a beautiful qalaam about the path and journey of a Sufi, heavens stopped and took notice. This is what we remember CokeStudio pakistan for. Goosebumps on every note and a powerful blend of two मुख्तलिफ elements. Here, the pleasing Sitar is aided by the ever so powerful Abida Parveen! In an otherwise blemish free composition, the only thing that irritated was the bad drumming. Not stealing away any credit from the producers, but it would take amazing talent to have legends of this stature and make a bad song. Thumbs up!

All an all an average episode that is severely let down by the over the top theatrics and poor choice of 2 songs out of 4.

When the season 1 started, the producer had no benchmark to go to..and then history was created. With Season 7 starting at this note, I hope it gets better than this as the days go on. It is NOT a T.V. Drama, dear new producers…Music is what sets everything right, so please focus on that,  Will you?

Haider – Music Review And Artists/Technicians Credit

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Here is to the album of the year! Haider
You can read the review here –  http://moifightclub.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/haider-music-review-right-shades-of-dark/
You can listen to the music review @ BBC here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/multimedia/2014/09/140919_bbc_music_review_vm.shtml
Most importantly, here are the track wise music credits for the people who make it all work.
The list is shared by Rekha Bharadwaj. Thank you Ma’m! :)

1. Aao Na (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Vishal Dadlani
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Guitars - Ankur Mukherjee
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Steve Fitzamaurice (365 Artists)
Assistant Mix Engineer - Darren Heelis
Mixed at - The pierce rooms, London
Mastered - Christian Wright @ Abbey road Studios, London

2.Bismil (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Sukhwinder Singh
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Choir Arrangements - Neuman Pinto
Choir - Neuman pinto, Bianca Gomes,Francis Castellino, R.N. Iyer Vivienne Pocha, Rajiv Sunderesan, Kaustubh date, Mandar Apte and Arun Ingle
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Steve Fitzmaurice (365 artists)
Assistant mix engineer - Darren heelis
Mixed at - The Pierce rooms, london
Mastered by - Christian Wright @ Abbey road studios, london

3. Khul Kabhi to  (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Arijit Singh
Music producer - Tushar parte, Ketan Sodha
Guitars - Tushar Parte
Music assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed By - Steve Fitzmaurice (365 artists)
Assistant mix engineer - Darren heelis
Mixed at - The pierce rooms, London
Mastered by - Christian wright @ Abbey Road Studios, London

4. Jhelum (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Vishal Bhardwaj
Music Producer - Simaab Sen
Guitars - Mayukh Sarkar
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - TRE Nagella
Mixed at - Luminous Sound, Dallas, USA
Mastered by - Christian Wright, abbey road

5. Gulon Mein Rang (Faiz Ahmad Faiz)
Additional Composition - Vishal Bhardwaj
Original Composer - Mehdi Hassan
Singer - Arijit Singh
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Guitars - Arijit Singh
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Arijit Singh
Mixed by - Steve Fitzmaurice (365 artists)
Assistant Mix engineer - Darren Heelis
Mixed at - The Pierce rooms, london
Mastered by - Christian Wright @ Abbey Road Studios, London

6. Do Jahan (Gulzar and Kashmiri folk, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singers - Suresh Wadkar and Shraddha kapoor
Music Producers - Tushar Parte, Ketan Sodha
Guitars - Tushar Parte
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Steve Fitzmaurice @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Assistant Mix engineer - Darren Heelis
Mixed at - The Pierce rooms, London
Mastered by - Christian Wright @ Abbey road Studios, London

7. Ek aur Bismil (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Sukhwinder Singh
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Steve Fitzmaurice (365 artists)
Assistant mix engineer - Darren heelis
Mixed at - The pierce rooms, London
Mastered by - Christian Wright @ Abbey Road Studios, London

8. So Jao (Gulzar, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singers - Bashir Lone, Bashir Bhawani, Muzamil Bhawani, Mayukh Sarkar, Aalaap Majghavkar & Sourabh Joshi
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded by - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Ketan Sodha & Salman Khan Afridi
Mastered by - Christian Wright @ Abbey Road Studios, London

9. Aaj ke Naam (Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Vishal Bhardwaj)
Singer - Rekha Bhardwaj
Music Producer - Ketan Sodha
Tabla - Vinayak Netke
Music Assistant - Mayukh Sarkar
Recorded By - Salman Khan Afridi @ Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mixed by - Salman Khan Afridi & Ketan Sodha
Mixed at - Studio Satya, Mumbai
Mastered by - Christian WrighT @ Abbey Road Studios, London

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Music Review – Desi Kalakaar by Yo Yo Honey Singh via @BBCHindi

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Hi, Here is the link for the album that you must play to get information out of any enemy you capture.

Before you feel I have a bone to pick with Honey singh, please do understand that I don’t play honey singh’s album thinking we will find unlplugged/ghazal-sque compositions there. What is missing in this album is honesty of effort.

I have heard it, so that you don’t have to!

Link 1 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/entertainment/2014/09/140905_music_review_desi_kalakaar_ssm.shtml

Alternate link – https://soundcloud.com/almostareview/desi

© BBC Hindi at all times

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