It is hard for me to get excited about most of the music which is coming out these days. 2014-fication of music on Indian scene happened much before achche din of 2014. Long time ago when social media wasn’t about getting employment/assignments through ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’, we used to have a good set of music freaks who would celebrate music by talking about it and boy was it refreshing! Then, 2014-fication happened. Useless songs became popular just because a lot of people were talking about them and appreciation of good music was welcomed (largely) by presenting elaborate relocation plans to Pakistan to those who were liking music from across the border. I am of course referring to CokeStudio Pakistan or as we know it ‘That movement we tried copying in India and it resulted in a clufter duck of epic proportions’ . Anyway, like all humans, lovely music creators from across the border also lost their way a bit when they let Rohail Hyatt go from CokeStudio. Since then, season wise, CokeStudio Pakistan was mostly wayward (barring the fabulous season 8).
(picture credit – cokestudio.com.pk)
Cut to 2018. CokeStudio went out of the studio and added the tag of ‘explorer’ and by the looks of what they have done, it seems like for once someone actually deserves the said tag. The producers for this season are Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza. We have covered the work of Zohaib Kazi in 2016 and if you haven’t explored it yet, you might want to click here to read about it.
Zohaib and Ali have travelled across Pakistan to record songs and sounds and then present them to the ever starving music lovers. They explored Kalash Folk and presented it in the form of Pareek. The visuals, the music, the singers and basically everything – pitch perfect. You know there is a certain feeling of being satiated when one comes across a good book. CokeStudio Pakistan used to give me that feeling, even in their not so great seasons with odd gems finding their way out of the clutter. Pareek, the moment it starts, sets you up and makes you fly and not with self congratulatory nods or self aware discussion on ‘ragas’ or ‘alaaps’. Just pure clinical brilliance at work. Ariana, Amrina and those lovely set of ladies deserve all the accolades we can shower on them and what about that smart-ass start of the song with the engine revving…as if CokeStudio Pakistan is saying ‘Plene paha!’
Shamu bai and Vishnu were next with faqeera. Right from the moment you notice that Shamu Bai is at places, pronouncing it as ‘phakira’ and not ‘fakira’, you know you are getting raw talent which is still undiluted by complications of survival. A word on Vishnu – The timber of his voice and his ‘Riyaz’ sparkles through out his part. What a lovely song! I hope they sing more and take their art places, including India (or in U.A.E at least)
Naseebaya by Mangal, Darshan and Shayan is an absolute riot. Sure we got a taste of what Balochi songs sound like but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Naseebaya started. The Balochi riff and the singing in the song has such a ‘mela’ like innocence and rhythm to it! The video of the song is deliciously done as well.
Maahi ve by Mishal Khawaja has a S-E-L-isque sound that is a bit ‘phir dekhiye’ and a little ‘ye tumhari Meri baatein’ feel to it and to me the song to me sounded just about ok. Somehow, when I read explorer’s tagline ‘exploring music across Pakistan’, I failed to note that they could mean Instagram as well. Alternatively, we all must surely remember how Cokestudio Pakistan was accused —> ‘it is not a platform to fresh artists’. Well, to those skeptics, may I gently ask Is ‘Instagram to CokeStudio explorer’ ‘fresh’ enough for you? You look at the song in this context and the song is not bad, though I won’t go looking out for it on my playlist.
The innocence of Altaf Mir’s Ha Gulo reminded me so much of the simplicity of Ahesta bero. A brilliant groovy treatment to something that is beautifully traditional, pay attention from 2:46 mins when you hear a brief interjecting voice singing different line from the same song along with the main track – brilliant. While it is difficult to pick the favourite from this season of explorer, the video of Ha Gulo remains most adorable. Too cool for school people at it!
I used to shout from virtual rooftops of social media about how hopeful I am whenever new season of CokeStudio was in the offing. Post season 6, the cacophonous arrangement and disco lighting was jarring and almost overnight everyone become too camera aware. There were off and on good songs which we have reviewed on this blog here here and here. Still, the anticipation was gradually waning and I almost stopped rushing to conference rooms or washrooms in the middle of the day just so I could hear the newest song that has come out from CokeStudio Pakistan. Explorer has brought back *that* excitement and trust me I have witnesses to prove it and no they are not from India.
I remember people arguing whether Remo Fernandes says ‘ya ve ey’ or ‘yaari hai’ or something else right in the beginning of Humma Humma. I remember all of them enjoying the song no matter what those words meant. I just hope everyone gives CokeStudio Explorer a chance. They have good music this time and yes they have subtitles too! So yes, I am excited about music after a long long time.
You can find out lyrics, team, artist credits and the picture I have used on this post by clicking here – www.cokestudio.com.pk