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CokeStudio Pakistan, Season 6, Thoughts on Episode 1 to 3

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The yearly ritual of waiting for the new season of CokeStudio ‘Original wala’ was rewarded by the entire team of CokeStudio Pakistan. While most musicians are still struggling with ‘fusion’, Rohail has upped the ante and has moved the entire CokeStudio Pakistan to the next level of fusion this time round. You can read more about it on their official website – cokestudio.com.pk

Will everyone like it? No! Good food isn’t easily acceptable to many if they are mostly fed sub-par food.

The two ‘singles’ so far

Jogi* – starts with  Fariha Pervez crooning out the all too familiar traditional lyrics that Pakistan has over used in almost every album that has ever come out.  Still, this version has a lyrical twist in between for a bit which is refreshing. Add to that the taraana by Muazzam ali khan.  Along with the supremely talented dholis in the studio and International musicians, the song becomes hummable for sure but lacks an overall playlist punch.

Laili jaan* – Zeb-Haniya bring the house down with this simply worded old song. A lot of people went down to Youtube to discredit the cokestudio team for any effort (because you know, for them it’s ‘copied’). Still, hear it once and tell me if you don’t smile everytime the insane drummer is shown having fun! The arrangement is top class, the overall extended house band tears the screen apart with this fantastic song!

Episode 1

Without a doubt, the last year belonged to Charkha Nolakha amongst other songs and the chief reason was Umair Jaswal with this husky calls and energetic singing. So it wasn’t a surprise to see him start the season with ‘Khayaal’. It’s an out an out ‘long drive’ song with some good variations by Umair. Clearly, those who hate Atif (because he is ‘besura’ in their own head), have another name to hate now! Superb song!

Babu bhai* – Ali Azmat is back! And this time, expectedly, he is back with songs that ooze out messages. Good or bad? You decide. In this episode Ali Azmat takes  a direct aim at those suck ups who would do anything to reach the top by any means (Koun yahan sochay hai, haram hai ya halaal hai). The pace is peppy and the arrangement just right. A song that is just over 4 minute, it packs a lot of punch. Don’t be fooled by the light tune of the song, it might just unsettle you!

Rabba ho* Oud starts the next song with Hazrat Saieen Zahoor for company. Now it’s no surprise that Zahoor snores more melodiously than many wannabe singers of India and Pakistan sing. So it comes as no surprise when we hear Zahoor sitting on a chair and just going about it. What we disliked slightly was the reverb his voice was subjected to at some places in the song. Let Zahoor be! Reverb doesn’t need him. Sanam Marvi on the other hand can very quickly confuse you whether it is really her or Mahotarma Abida Parveen who is singing the song.  Clearly, the best song of the episode.

 Episode 2

Laage re nain* – Sarangi by Anil starts this song and remains a character of it’s own throughout this breathtaking song. Ayesha Omar hits it and boy does it stay hit! Zoe and Rachel add sweetness to the song and the Serbian house band keeps it mellow. The song also introduces us to a west African instrument called Kora. The arrangement sounds exotic and neat. What a delight to hear the girls sing in poorbi language. Top class!

Tori chab – Kalenin Burcu Muyam – Rustam fateh ali khan takes up the hitherto less tried Indian (credit on the website as such, by theway) raga Abhogi Kangra  and presents us with an earthy composition. The singing is free flowing and the overall structure of the song sounds surreal. Turkish Singer Sumru Ağıryürüyen weaves her song (Kalenin Burcu Muyam) within this. Although it’s a good enough collaboration, at times I felt Sumru went slightly off key and that stalled the flow of the song.

Abrar ul haq did his bit with Ishq di booti and has a terrific house-band to fall back to. Special mention of the brass section that lifted the song. The song has a message of love and peaceful coexistence and it’s delivered alright! Towards the end of the song, we are introduced to ‘Tar’. The bass section is in fact so good that by the end of the song, I won’t blame you if you forget that it is infact keyboards that start the song!

Episode 3

Neer bharan* – (Zara Madani, featuring Muazzam Ali Khan) We are all human. So I blame my ‘preset’ notion that led me into believing this song will sound exactly like Rohail Hyatt’s presentation of the same in ‘Khuda ke liye’. Still, Zara madani does an able job to sing the entire song on a difficult and near whispering scale. Accompanied ably by Muazzam Ali khan, the song doesn’t ruffle any feathers and quietly ends.

Channa* – And in comes Atif! This time not taking long ‘taans’ but whispering Channa. Brass elevates the song higher. At times playful, at times yodeling, Atif mixes it up very well. The Punjabi lyrics are penned very well and inspite of being an out and out love song with what the ‘youth’ calls ‘mush’, you can totally workout with this song in the background. I would pay a million bucks to hear something similar by this collaboration just for the way the song builds up and ends. Top class Top class top class!

Yaar Vekho – Sanam Marvi brings a good amount of ‘stillness’ with this insightful composition (in raga bhopali). The setting is lifted by the excellent use of Violins. The song is pretty much flat with no flamboyance, beat wise. The interim calls and recitations by Sanam Marvi are bound to make even Mahotarma Abida Parveen Smile. If you cannot understand Punjabi, switch on the subtitles and watch the video and  get addicted. Special mention of Asad Ahmed on guitar and the atmosphere he creates. Mashallah!

Raat gaey* – Zoe viccaji delivers an urdu song with a total jazzed up treatment. The song lightens you up and gives out that foot tapping vibe. Brass (Expectedly) play a superb role along with drums and don’t be surprised if you are transported to an old club with a good singer lighting it up with her singing. A clever song that is delightful to watch (thanks to the violin gang) *toothy smile*

Notice the *mark? These are all the songs in which backup girls (mostly Zoe and Rachel Viccaji) appear and it won’t be wrong to say that they lend a finishing touch to the overall song.

It could have been very easy to continue the same fusion template that Rohail has followed with the present houseband over the years. Still, to disrupt it all and involve musicians from across the world (using technology in a way that logistics don’t hinder the creative process), Rohail Hyatt and the Team CokeStudio Pakistan have raised the bar very high.

Who is willing to catch up?

Episode 5 premieres tonight, do not miss it!

Review – CokeStudio India – Season 3 Episode 3 (Clinton Cerejo)

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1. Peer jalani – starts with a very infectious riff and then Manga Khan weaves his magic (with excellent guitars for company). The presence of khartaal and morchang sets the song nicely. It is not a typical ‘studio folk’ so it takes time to leave a mark.Clinton also gets to sing and the singing is precisely what we have come to expect from Clinton. Nothing more. Nothing less. The song belongs to the lovely band and Manga Khan. It also gives a lot of hope to us listeners that such experiments would be encouraged (just like Ram Sampath’s episode got Bhanwari devi) and showcased to people at large. The Morchang lead fusion in between although breaks the pace of the song but is delightful nevertheless.

2. Aisi bani – A song weaved around Saint Kabir’s doha. Clinton Cerejo, Vijay Prakash, Biance Gomes and Sonu Kakkar take turns and at times sing together. Although the start is guitar heavy, the song settles down. Clinton appears to be in the ‘Saathi Salaam’ mode and that is very off putting. The nasal Bianca in between also couldn’t do much to save the song that ends up being a well intentioned attempt that lacked execution. The only good part about the song is Sonu kakkar’s part (she sounds like a much in control Jaspinder narula).

3. KalapiKailash Kher gets to sing this one along with fantastic house band. The pace is reggae like and the words are just plain average. Realistically speaking, many of us (although very few admit it openly) have come to expect very less from Kher off late and although he does very well in this average song, the song falls flat. While a lot of people might like the ending, to me it sounds badly arranged.

4. Pinjra – A refreshing ’80s like sound’ start makes you curious. Sanam puri with his soothing voice effortlessly slips in to this soothing track. The backup vocals play their part perfectly throughout the song and Jonita Gandhi is not bad at all. While the song sounds like an honest effort, I am almost forced to opine that this isn’t a song that is CokeStudio worthy. It’s what you could accomodate in a private album that has nothing to do with CokeStudio. No fusion here!

5. Marghat – Arresting notes on the keyboard followed by a darker arrangement of strings is what unsettles you right from the beginning. Till about 3 minutes (out of 9 minutes running time of the song), you hear a lovely music set and then Siddharth Basrur arrives. The singing is a bit ‘south bombay’ sorts and thats a bummer because a singer like Rahul Ram would have taken the song higher, much higher. Don’t get me wrong. This song is structured and arranged well, just that the vocal seems to get lost in the excellent arrangement.

6. Baina – The second song from the episode that is worth listening again and again after Peer Jalani. Vijay Prakash does very well and creates his space nicely amidst a song that is the best arranged song in the episode. The use of Sitar Veena is not overdone and it fits into the overall arrangement very well. The way the song fades off is sure to give you goosebumps. They should have used this structure on Marghat and it could have really helped the song, in my view.

Overall a disappointing episode for Season 3 and if we go ahead and compare it with the last season’s episode that Kick started the season 2, it is a big let down. Clinton has repeated Vijay prakash, Bianca, Sonu Kakkar and there is an interesting error in judgement that is on display here. Wile Bianca ROCKED mauje naina as it was right up her ally in the season 2, she is out of place in the song she is given this year. On the contrary, Sonu kakkar tried too hard last year but is bang on this time round! We would have liked to hear (Just in case repeating was a must for Clinton) Ustad Sawan Khan but he is missing!

Also, I somehow don’t get the choice of ‘Townie sorts’ singers that Clinton has made. I hope there is much more variety for us to hear via Clinton in the times to come.

My picks – Peer Jalani and Baina

Note – This review is penned by legally downloading all that iTunes has to offer and if the folks at Cokestudio are listening/reading, Please include the musicians and lyricist credits to the itunes?

YOU GUYS MAKE US BUY COKESTUDIO SONGS INSTEAD OF GIVING THEM FOR FREE AND KEEP MAJOR DETAILS A SECRET!

That’s INR 80 that I could have spent wisely! 😦

Thagni – Music review (And we MUST hear this album)!

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This review goes out to Honhaar gunda who gifted me this album..a priceless gift my friend, and thank you for it!

Mora saiyyan – Violin and guitar start this track. Shreyas takes the first shot and throws his soothing voice in a control that you get only because of good amount of ‘riyaz’. A track that deals with a lot of pathos (And no this is NOT ‘Mora saiyyan mose bole na’). The entire track is very soothing and even when the adventurous alaaps are undertaken by the singers, it is very easy on ears. That’s a rare quality and thankfully in this day and age, someone gifts us with it.

Moko kahan dhoodnhey – Oh What a start to the track! Hear it out to know what I mean! Excellent choice of instrument. Right from the word go, the track has a free flowing vibe to it and it is very infectious. The typical ‘tapping foot while typing an email’ song. It is quite a surprise that such an exceptional musical treatment has been given to such an old song. I have already mentioned the exquisite beginning of this track and let me leave this song by mentioning the equally amazing end. Brilliance!

Maya Thagni – Sitar alongwith faint voices from kids launches the song. One of the most famous poems by Saint kabir, this track benefits with rich music arrangement. A lot of ‘hooo hoooo’ (by female back up singers) and a lot of strings. A different track from the rest of the album in terms of music arrangement. This track has a very ‘kailasa’ feel to it.

Ghoonghat ke pat khol ni Tohey piya milengey – Sarod starts this track. Guitar then takes it alongside light percussion participants. Mild reggae feel to yet another classic poem from Saint kabir! The way the song ends speaks a lot of this brilliant set of composers! Praise, praise and more praise for this track! Thumbs up Shreyas and Abhas!

Mann lago yaar – Nomadic start (And that’s a proof of a sound music arrangement) to a song that speaks of a nomad who prefers to live like a nomad who sings for a living and lives on whatever the world has to offer him. The flute play is superb and the atmosphere created by the sound of this song is exemplary!

Udd Jayega hans akela – Yes, you read it right. It is the pious and sacred bhajan of Kabir that has been immortalised by Pt. Kumar gandharva ji. To attempt this speaks of a lot of guts. Although one might feel there is a heavy ‘kailasa’ feel in this track, still to give credit where it’s due the singers have done their best! Brilliantly arranged.

Jheeni re – Starts with a famous couplet from Saint kabir. The guitar adds a touch of contemporary times to this timeless poem. Aabhas and shreyas pick up the song very delicately. The entire track benefits from a near silent music arrangement. No heroics, no ‘trying to show off the vocal range’. Excellent backup vocals as well. The use of Mouth organ is quite clever! A very good track and must be heard.

This album deserves all the praise and the singers/composers Shreyas and Abhas deserve a pat on their back for attempting this hitherto unexplored genre with such confidence! The label owners – Sa re ga ma have made it possible for us to listen to this and we must give them credit as well. Clearly one of best albums of 2012,  not because it will remind us of Kumar Gandharva ji or Pt. Bhimsen Joshi ji, but for the simple reason that it will give another facet to these timeless lines that Saint Kabir and kamali penned ages ago.

This superb album can be bought for 63 bucks from here…this is the cheapest Pure Gold will ever be!

Somrass – Pankaj Awasthi – Review…almost!

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Pankaj Awasthi is one of the strongest voices we have in our music scene. Some of his previous work can be found herehere and here. His characteristic shiver in the loud alaaps pierce right through your soul. Do try to catch up on some of his work if you have time.

You can listen to this album here

Be it the raw and almost crude ‘Ab ka huiye bhaiyya’ or a rusty ‘Dhadke jaa’, two songs very varied mood wise or be it the kabir inspired ‘Bulbula’, Pankaj awasthi exploits his naturally powerful voice with consummate ease. It’s actually a treat to hear his typical loud alaap in dhadke jaa. You do feel that he had a fun outing especially when singing ‘ab ka huiye bhaiyya’ though.

At first sounding a little out of sync ‘Guinyan’ will draw you into emptiness of the world thanks to extremely powerful lyrics and some intoxicating guitar play. The kid voices towards the end aren’t very clear but just enough to leave a mark on your senses, a good one that is.

Lafzon ke guldastey is a lightly arranged song with main focus on the voice. Very evening like, ‘by the balcony, with guitar and wine’ sort of arrangement. Heart breaking lyrics, sung beautifully. This is not leaving my playlist for a long time. Surely.

World tour pe ‘Makhi’ nikli! Heavy guitars and lyrics filled with irony (mixed with those alaaps of Pankaj that make you sit tight and take notice), this one packs a delicious take on a lot of us, ‘career’ and ‘padhaku’ types. Hear it to know more. (Don’t let the ‘le kar tujhko jaunga dulhan, anan fanan’ sort of tempo distract you)

Mere bhai ki ek kavita – The shortest piece of the album and my favorite. Don’t be surprised if you feel a sudden adrenaline rush when you hear this. The arrangement is top class. The impact, WONDERFUL!

Ruswaiyan – The beauty of this song is that it makes you want to gently sway to the tune and this new age singing style of Pankaj. Lyrics wise, the most ‘by the template of typical album’ sort of song. A little love, a little anger towards life and a lot of melody. Must hear.

Sabun – meaning ‘soap’. Another song that speaks of rinsing the world clean. The way the lines are weaved and spaced in the composition speaks of the genius of this man. The theme of the song will sound tiring to a lot of us but you will be surprised at how early the song ends.This song has the trademark ‘Shiver’ of Pankaj awasthi when he takes alaap, by the way. The video of this song can be found here

Somrass – The lightest (lyrics and treatment wise) song of the album. A catchy tune (yes, I am not able to recognise which tune is this, can you help?), bit of bollywood like sound actually. If publicised well, this could be a college anthem by the way. Yes, too cool. Must hear this, once.

Yada Yada hi dharmasya – Electronica! is it? It sure is digital sound at it’s loudest best! Add an element of finality in Pankaj awasthi’s voice and powerful words and you get this superb track! The moment you feel that the words are running out of tune you will again be arrested by the shivering voice of Pankaj conveying how the world will continue to suffer thanks to petty fights. The beauty of composition is that the song is titled ‘yada yada hi dharmasya’ but it is not used as a ‘hook’. This phrase comes towards the end of the song and leads the song towards finish.Not for everyone but those who will like the song, won’t let this song go off playlist. Word.

Zindagi Reit hai – Another song which is very ‘word heavy and instrument light’. The words are insightful, the arrangement very fragile and voice of Pankaj a tad softer than the rest of the songs of this album. Range is not a problem with him, quite evidently.

The pick of the album is the…entire album!

Pop/alternative/non-bollywood is a genre that hasn’t delivered much in the recent years, thanks to recycled tunes on auto pilot while the composers continued faking accents in public about how their work is so tough. Thank God for Pankaj! In a space filled with bollywood mix albums and wannabe sufis (who don’t understand ‘S’ of sufi, by the way), here is an unputdownable album that plays with electronica, kabir, veer rass, jazz and so many other variations!

It’s a well established fact that our neighbors have a far better and promising ‘pop’ scene and they keep churning out excellent talent. This album is what our neighbors would wish they had produced. This is the sound of Indi-pop that is different and will last. Should last.

100 out of 10 for this gem of an album!

Gangs of Wasseypur 2 – Music review

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1. Chicha ledar – The song starts with that familiar sound that all the people who lived near a cotton extracting/beating shop would easily identify. (Those huge sitar-like eqipuments) and then with appropriate ‘building up’ the song launches into a constant beat arrangement and in comes Durga!. Backed by extremely good lyrics the song grabs you and runs and runs! Special mention of the amazing use of words like ‘cheecha ledar, sarau, word play (whether i like the weather)’! The constant ‘joota joota joota’ gives the song a ‘remixed’ feel and then the ‘dub step’ comes in! Maha-amaJing! My grouse with the song is that it is JUST 4 minutes. Clearly a GAJJJJAB start to the album! (Varun insists that the usage of ‘sarau’ is a tribute to Lucknow, I must add).

Special mention of Durga (the 12 year singer), listen carefully how she says ‘dil’ in the song. Everytime! That’s called hugging the lyrics and not just singing it! Kudos!

2. Kaala reSneha khanwalkar. at. her. best. If the ‘keh ke loonga’ made us all hear Sneha launch into her ‘catty’ avatar. This one explores the playful undertones (with a very dark and haunting cello/bass arrangement). Saiyyan kartey ji coal-bazari. A song that’s helped a great deal by excellent lyrics. (Kaala bilkul surmey wala). All shades of black, explored. very. well. Perhaps some parallel will be drawn with the sound of A.R. Rahman.

3. Electric piyaRasika D Rani starts of (and must say the pronunciation of ‘elektric’ is very very ‘chic’!’) Then a very bhojpuri (Trinidad Tobago also?) music setting takes over (aided by ‘casio’like sound, harmonium, dholak and manjeeras). Dholak and Harmonium are quite prominent in addition to the vocals. A very naughty (in a very un-womaniya way) song. This is more like leg pulling of your ‘piya’. The words are pronounced in a flow and might not be able to get into the mind immediately. Repeat the song and you will find yourself smiling.

4.  Bahut Khoob – I am VERY interested to see the way this is going to be filmed. Very theatrical in the way it uses the voice of the kids (And at times Sneha in between). Hear it to make an opinion on the song. Mix and scratch and mix and scratch again and again!

5. Taar bijli – Harmonium with a lot of female backup singers (and some ‘chammach’ on dholak) leaves us with Padamshree Sharda sinha to weave magic. The setting is very playful. Lyrics full of gentle banter directed towards her in-laws by the bride. ‘Na idhar na udhar hi sihaare piya’…! excellent lyrics. The song is NOT another ‘womaniya’. While Womaniya was more ‘intimate, naughty and personal’, this one puts out the banter in open and poses some questions to the entire family about the bridegroom. The song is actually a satire on the worsening condition of Bihar in 80s and 90s. Perhaps the most conventional song of the pack. Sweet and melodious.

6. Aabroo – Starts with bulbul tarang and dholak. The setting is very ‘gali mohalla’ style. Piyush mishra gets into action (and you can picture him sitting on a ‘chowk’ surrounded by people) A little different from his normal style, Piyush mishra emotes ‘ekdam ghus key’. Bhupesh singh very smartly contests Piyush mishra (not teams up, contests). An election campaign song, It’s the ‘compteesan’ that has been got music as a background. Kudos to Piyush Mishra! Hilarious to the core. A genre that has resurfaced after a long time!

7.Perpendicular theme – Using a mix of brass band and other sounds, this less than a 2 minute track ends too soon (May be weird just for me, because I am used to the ‘themes’ being longer). A kid’s playful voice a shehnai (may be) and drums at times. Also, the brass band plays a tune in between. I have heard it somewhere and can’t put a finger to it. Who can remember it? I liked the song but disliked the fact it’s too short. The theme is paced so well that you would want to listen to it for a longer duration but then, it ends!

8. Moora – Guitar and mandolin together and you know the song will make you smile. Sneha khanwalkar gives a whispering start to the song. Chiefly using Mandolin and Guitar (just ‘by the side’ arrangement), the beauty of the song is that the vocals are also understated. Would have liked a little more ‘energy’ in the vocals. The lyrics anyway talk of hope so found this version a little dim. The interesting part of this version is a faint ‘male’ voice. It’s the voice of Robbie styles from trinidad) who played cuatro and mandolin in the song. Best part – he doesn’t know hindi.

9. TunyaBulbultarang’s excellent use with the members of ‘Baal party’ (and if you hear attentively I guess there is a bit of Sneha in the background too). This is just 1:22 minutes track and boy is it sticky or what? As I continue to complain about the duration of this track I can’t help but feel this will make a great ringtone too!

10. Bahut Khoob (8 Bit dubstep) – Excellent use of the 8 bit dubstep arrangement has made this piece (which is still less than 3 minutes!) breezy and intriguing at the same time. From 1:50 minutes, Sneha uses Super mario music (With altered tempo) and then constructs a bit of her own tune around it. This is sheer brilliance! (90s kids! rejoice!). Although in the lyrics post , it was mentioned that the words are random, I am quite sure that the kids are referring to the movements of a train. Varun points out that the song refers to the movement of ‘Ganga, the river’. Hear hear and then let’s discuss?

11. Electric piya (Fused) – Not remixed, Fused! Pretty straight forward ‘fused’ version. Harmonium remains and is aided by uniform beats and at times echo. Didn’t like this version much. May be you will. Try it out.

12. Moora (Morning) – Compared to the previous version of ‘Moora’, this one starts with more instruments and the mandolin makes way for  ‘The ‘Humni ke chori ke nagariya’ (From Gangs of Wasseypur part 1, soundtrack) boy Deepak gets behind the microphone again to give us a more soulful rendition of this song. Lyrics, excellent. Energy (and music arrangement) – Up to the mark! No guitar. Some echo. Some trans like sound. Kabir-sque lyrics. Ends very very techno istyle! My pick of the album, this.

13. KKL – Sneha! Sneha! echoes ‘KKL’ which is nothing but Keh ke loonga. This version will tickle all the ‘techno junkies’ at the right places. If we remember right, the ‘loonga loonga keh ke’ (From part 1 isn’t used in Gangs of wasseypur part 1, the film). This track features the all male chorus from the song and then mixes up with tiny bits of Sneha’s voice. Sneha has used the bits from the part 1 song superbly! This is what you can easily call as a ‘ball busting ass kicking’ music arrangement. (Try getting the ‘चीख’ of sneha out of your head when she goes ‘Teri keh ke longaaaaaaa’). What I shudder thinking about is – our reality TV shows will kill this song by ‘performing’ on this.

A lot of talk has happened pointing directly towards how some of the tracks in Gangs of wasseypur sound like ‘Sound trippin’. If we are to back in time by say 2 years (when Gangs of wasseypur’s music was being made), MTV had no idea of Sound trippin. Could it not be a possibility that Sound trippin came AFTER viacomm heard the music and sounded off their Music channel to make a show around these ‘unique’ songs and sounds that Sneha accumulated? Think about it.

With the Music of Gangs of Wasseypur 1,  sitting pretty already and other credentials in her bag (rather backpack!), Sneha Khanwalkar delivers a different sound with this album. While the Gangs of Wasseypur 1 album was tilted heavily towards the folk sound, this one is more contemporary. The selection of singers and lyrics continue to play a smart role in the overall feel of the album. Piyush mishra appears for just one song and hits a homerun. Varun Grover should probably start preparing for a speech already because kala rey will cause a lot of cheecha ledar and might make a moora of a lot of lyricists this year. All we shall do is just celebrate the arrival of a deeply rooted (to the story line and narration) lyricist and yes the words bahut khoob would be incidental.

Our pick – Entire album. With so much prem pritam pyare and bro-jid-sque music around, if any film album is worth your full time, it is this.

CokeStudio at MTV – Season 2, Episode 1

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Saathi SalaamUstad (yes I would address him as ‘Ustad’. So what if MTV doesn’t?) Sawan khan shakes and stirs the soul with a captivating start to this composition and Clinton quietly makes space for himself alongside the Ustad and delivers what is easily the most powerful song of this episode. The coordination, music arrangement, lyrics, singing (and everything else which ai don’t know, but makes the song awesome) are on target. Although the ‘song info’ (on the official website) says that this song is all about the tussle that a man (not woman, just man!) goes through daily, the song can be an excellent pick to address terrorism and the fragile state in which we breathe these days. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist bringing it up. Also, must add the video of this song is the only one that stands out for this episode. Very ‘Kewl’ to see Ustad ji’ jamming with the kids and being oh so animated without making a big deal of it and without giving that ‘oh I am too cool for the camera but would love a closeup please’ look. He is just busy in his craft. I wanted to dislike the last 1:42 mins of the song but they do give a wholesome feel to the entire song. The element of finality, a fitting start to the season!. 3 Thumbs up!

Banjara –  Vijay Prakash starts off with a powerful alaap. Not sure whether this lovely verse (By Hazrat Amir khusro) required so many harkats but then, what do I know? ‘Raga illeterate, musically challenged’ that I am. Anyway, the sargam that follows delay the start of the song (but not for long, thankfully). Nandini Srikar comes in and effortlessly does what we know she can. Let down by really bad lyrics (at times, the tune is trying to accomodate extra words I felt). The song starts with the popular verses by (and the MTV site credits) Hazrat Amir Khusro, but am not sure why they forgot crediting Saint Kabir whose lines are sung by Vijay Prakash (jaise til mein tel hai, chamak mein aag, khud ka sai khud mein hai jaag sakey to jaag). The groove is awesome, the song is hollow and fails miserably. The over the top alaaps and pointless (out of sync as well I reckon, especially towards the end) killed the song that could have been a lot more. Trying too hard to prove the classical prowess are we?

Chaddh de  – A song that master salim started with a lot of promise and failed miserably due to an awkward mish mash of lyrics, music and everyone doing their own bit without realising that it should all fit in as a cohesive song. We all have seen our end of ‘performances’ in cokestudio but this song in particular comes across trying too hard to please (awkward alaaps by saleem included).

The site does credit the lyricist and mentions how sad he was at the time of penning these lyrics, but what they forgot to mention was the fact that the lines which Salim repeated till death towards the end and in between belong to Saint kabir. Trying too hard to accomodate ‘Baba bulleh shah, Hazrat Amir khusro and Saint Kabir’ all in one episode are we? Hmmm. Ok. Saddest song of this episode. Easily. The song tires you. Try it.

Madari – beautiful start with a subtle keyboard, guitar and mandolin. Vishal dadlani is light and breezy with heavy lyrics and doesn’t use much modulation to ’emphasize’ the seriousness of the song (Kudos Clinton! For this). Sonu kakkar, the female lead singer of this song tries too hard to sing the lines crom ‘Baba bulleh shah’ with a different twist. It sounds cool once but repeating it again and again killed the momentum of the song. Not k owing where to stop, may be. Anyway, ‘Baba bulleh shah’ isn’t credited by MTV either in the ‘lyrics info’ section. Vishal salvages this song well. Still undecided on the song. Hear it to decide for yourself.

Mauje Naina – Arguably the best song of the episode in terms of originality. Bass and dhol (yes dhol!) create just half impact as the vocals of Bianca Gomes, Shadab and Altamash literally drag you out and leave your senses in the open jungle filled with cheat, gulit and deceit. Cokestudio Pakistan attempted mixing english words here but in my view, they failed miserably because the lyrics were out of context anyway. The beauty of this song, however is the atmosphere it creates. It’s like a theatrical depiction filled with BLACK and BLOOD. The hindi words (and the style of singing) is very ‘naina thag lengey’ sorts. Bianca’s voice is catty and full of inviting undertones. Don’t let the soft start to this song fool you. This is dark and dark is all shades of black and not grey. Highly, totally and completely recommended. Something so original and so beautiful that one is willing to excuse the season 1 completely and call this a beginning and a gutsy one at that! Superb superb superb!

Dungar – beautiful choir singing alongside Ustad Sawan khan! Ok! Now we are talking about cokestudio! though a short track, Clinton manages this very well and gives us a taste of what is it about the word ‘fusion’ that we love. A top class composition. Watch out for the last 53 seconds of the song when Ustad ji and the choir sing together. For me, this is the high point of the song. Simply stunning!

My picks – Saathi Salaam, Mauje naina and Dungar

Much of my grouse with Cokestudio India has subsided due to the above mentioned songs from this episode. If i try hard to find out 3 original songs from last entire season that i liked, I will fail to do so. Also, superb initiative by MTV to air this season on Doordarshan as well. Excellent work by Clinton and now all eyes and ears on the Epsiode 2 that should hit us tomorrow evening! Mighty happy to see Hindi poetry getting it’s due because I fail to understand why the Indian version of CokeStudio should sound like the Pakistan version? Look for poets here…there are way too many who are yet to find their voices on a bigger scale and what better platform than CokeStudio?

Fail to understand why Ustad sawan khan is not mentioned in the artist section of the website, image below.

Also, still no free downloads?

3 Thumbs up for the start!


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