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CokeStudio Season 8 Episode 3 #CokeStudio8

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You can read the Episode 1 review here and Episode 2 review here

Man Amadeh amGul and Atif give us a folk-pop-routine fused song which is brilliant in bits but cacophonous in the rest. I would have loved a slightly subtle arrangement in the middle portions of the song. Absolutely loved the way the song started and last 2:45 mins of the song. Gul is superb and she should get a solo song soon. I guess the producers weren’t confident that an out and out folk song would fly. I won’t hear this song in repeat but am sure if you do, you will like it more times than the times you will dislike it. Still, could have been better, much better. Meanwhile, while we are at it, please see the inspiration behind the song by GooGoosh (what a cute name!)   (Observe how the arrangement follows the singer and not the otherway round). Also, observe how I didn’t know about the song before this song came out from CokeStudio. So thank you again CokeStudio!

Ali Sethi and Nabeel Shaukat had so so much fun and it rubs off on you when you hear and see Umran Langiyaan. The voice of Ali Sethi opens the song with a call that is so melodious you might not believe. The song defines perfection. Be it the subtle flute all throughout Nabeel’s part in the song, the simple yet effective harmonium or be it the impeccable Ali Sethi. I don’t know about you but the song took me to a village with perfectly combed gardens and a pond and then right about then Ali Sethi added the rock/pop touch to the song. Oh yea, I also loved the way Nabeel took to the microphone. A pat on the back of the producers to merge two excellent songs the way they did.

Neun La LeyaJaffer is much more than a keyboard player and that was established in CokeStudio long back when he mesmerised us with Nindiya re. Here, he gives us a hypnotic song. It is a relief to note that the song is not over produced and lends prominence to the voice because Jaffer has a throw that is quite controlled and doesn’t come across as someone trying to prove a point and yes! he keeps it all melodious, very melodious. His voice touches your heart and you can empathise with the helpless emotions of the song. It took a while for Kaavish to do another song for CokeStudio, and it was worth the wait. So worth it!

Rung Jindri – With the name Arif Lohar comes a tank full of expectations that he would rock the video and the song. In a somewhat poignant presentation here, the tiger from punjab keeps the tune slow and focusses more on the lyrics. A song that talks about life and that too in a somewhat ‘pind meets pop’ treatment. The arrangement is fine and the excellent additional backup singers lend a unique character to the sound of the song which reminds you of Chakwal group, only quieter (because they are in background). The strings section in this song elevates the song without dominating the sound. I especially loved the last few minutes of the song. Don’t expect a ‘jugnee ji’, you will get something similar energy wise but with much more meaning. A good genre for Lohar to touch. Watch out for the clinks of the chimta towards the end. Fantastic touch that!

Overall a super episode which wobbled a little bit in Atif-Gul song but just soared higher and higher post that. The effort is clearly there and the results melodious. A special word for the talented as ever, only quieter and more subtle houseband (when compared to the last year) – Kudos! I love the Aahad Nayani now. For me, he was the star in Atif-Gul Song.

Waiting for next episode of CokeStudio Pakistan is how life is being lived these days and for that, I am thankful to everyone associated with the project.

Main Kurbaan!

CokeStudio Pakistan Season 7, Episode 7 – Review

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With a mixed bag of goodies, Cokestudio Pakistan Season 7 lead us to the last episode. Here is what I thought of it. Apologies for being late.

Hans Dhuni – It is only logical for the season’s last episode to begin with the same artist who enthralled us as he opened the season. Ustad Raees Khan gets up close and makes us sway with his brilliance as he performs Hans Dhuni. There is absolutely nothing to write about it here apart from the fact that It should have been at least 10 minute track. A living legend playing one of the most soothing ragas on Sitar in a contemporary setting with terrific musicians isn’t a daily affair these days, sadly. By giving my ‘view’ on the song, I am just trying to flatter myself. Superb presentation!

Suth Gana – Giving us the flavor from the daily lives of cinema lovers in Pakistan, the hook of the song literally means ‘throw a song’ and is uttered out rather loudly by the audience in Pakistan in cinema halls if cokestudio site is to be believed and guess what? I believe it. Sajjad ali hasn’t been particularly exciting this season but this song right here is right up Ali’s alley. The catch of the song is in its lyrics and you must totally check it out. Brilliantly aided by Mr. Tafu, Adeel and Sajid ali, this is probably a better song from Sajjad ali this season. Don’t get fooled in by the opening of the song (which I absolutely loved!), the song is not an out and out ‘Phool banro’. There is hardly any pure classical note after the song starts. I am not a fan of mixing english in a song but by the time song ends, you won’t cringe at the use of words like ‘situation’, ‘shoes’, ‘Chance’, ‘taime’ etc. in the song because it is all in good taste and you will find yourself smiling through most of it.  Much of the credit for the wonderful pace goes to the accompanying musicians. Watch how the song ends.. Everyone was top notch!

Za Sta Pasha Na Yam – And here is the song of the episode!  Naseer & Shahab give us a fantastic song that literally means ‘I am not like you’. Faraz Anwar on his guitar ensured we would get up and dance to the meaninglessness of everything and stupidity of material world. I would be surprised if I don’t hear from this wonderful duo more in future. This is a song that would make Rohail Hyatt proud!

Paani da bulbula – You don’t have to an expert to understand that this is a folk song and the intentional nasal start from Abrar ul haq just confirms it. The song is fun yet conveys the basic message of life to be happy no matter what and not be bogged down. What impressed me beyond my own expectations was the way Abrar rapped! Even in this song, there is a lot of english mixed with punjabi lyrics, but trust me you won’t mind them. The backup gang is spot on and a special vote of thanks to Hamza for playing ukulele the way old saints used to play their iktara, thereby giving an earthy touch to the song.

For a season that started being strictly average and way too loud (thanks to the theatrics by everyone in the studio), this episode is a fitting end to the season. I believe cokestudio is NOT just about the music. The videos play an equally important role and I missed Rohail’s subtle presentation all throughout. Still, to give praise where its due, Strings should be proud of themselves for doing this season.

Not sure what is in store for the next season, but this season adds to the grandeur that CokeStudio Pakistan always enjoyed thanks to the brilliant mounting Rohail and his handpicked artists gave to the show.

Thank you Strings, for not messing it up!

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!

CokeStudio Season 5, Episode 1 – First impressions

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The cokeStudio Pakistan is back with Season 5!

The episode 1 premiered on YouTube 3 hours back and here are some first impressions of the same..

The House band remains more or less the same – Asad Ahmed on guitar, Babar Ali Khanna on dholak, Javed Iqbal on violin, Kamran ‘Mannu’ Zafar on bass, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique on guitar, Sikander Mufti on multi-percussions and Rachel Viccaji and Zoe Viccaji on backing vocals. Joining the house band this season are two new talents: Farhad Humayun on drums and Mubashir Admani on keyboards. (No Louis ‘Gumby’ Pinto visible so far)

1. Paise da nasha –  Bohemia – The song kick starts. Yes. kick starts with a lot of attitude. The sort of attitude you associate with underbelly of cities wherein the mornings are dark and nights glow with blinding lights. The song talks about how people are obsessed with money and are in love with being intoxicated all the time. Brilliant music arrangement (and do I also mention the excellent camera movements, India – Please take a note). Superb back up vocals by Rachel and Zoe viccaji. Super like! It might sound like ‘too heavy an interpretation’ but just hear (And if you can see, then see!), when Bohemia raps it appears that the words are liberating him. Excellent touch. First rap song in a long…really long time that won’t leave me for a while. I was ready to tear this song apart. You know with all the ‘image’ of CokeStudio as being a ‘serious’ platform, what was Rohail thinking getting a ‘rapper’ there? Well, I have my answer now and I am convinced.

Good start Rohail!

2. Kamlee – Hadiqa Kiani The first thing that will catch your attention is the echo, excellent echo of Hadiqa’s words in the beginning of the song. For about 3 mins the minimalistic music arrangement and strong Vocals of Hadiqa build up just the right atmosphere, and then the song launches. Not loud (as the title would have you believe). Not in your face. Yes you might argue it sounds a little filmy. There is something about CokeStudio Pakistan which is exceptional! It brings out the best in people and this would arguably be one of the best by Hadiqa. So far. Lastly, since it is one of Baba bulleh shah’s ‘Qalaam’ the song ends with these ever so haunting lines (yet again complimented by a good echo effect).

Parh Parh Ilm Hazaar Kitabaan
Kadee Aprain Aap Noun Perhia Nahein….

3. Tum Kaho – Symt –  Guitars playing with the acoustics which is oh so typical ‘cokestudio Pakistan’ style introduce us to the singer who performs a near jazz style romantic number. 2 mins into the song and I wasn’t impressed. But just then a splendid dialogue between the backup vocal singers and the lead singer took this song to another level. Yes. Not just any other ballad. Funky, romantic and a little ‘filmy’. The surprise pack of this episode. Yes.

4. Charkha Nolakha – Atif and Qayaas start off gently. Mr. Khanna on ‘dholak’ makes his presence felt and accompanied by the guitars and drums, this would have easily been the most complex tune to compose of this episode. This will NOT grow instantly. Quite sure. The song has no ‘hook’ of which we are all so fond of. Watch the video, a little hysterical thanks to the qayaas (who sings alongside Atif), but there is a point the ENTIRE music band starts singing!. See that to know what a riot of melody is all about. BLOWN AWAY! There is palpable intensity with which the sound heads towards it’s end. You will have goosebumps. I repeat, see the video. Just once.

Every now and then a song comes and raises the bar. This song has just done that for Season 5 and we are just at the episode 1! Atif Aslam, Take a bow. Yes.

5. Larsha Pekhawar Ta – The song has a very ‘fused’ starting with guitars overtaking the ‘Rabab’ (that typically dominates a pashtu composition), Hamayoon khan steps forward to give us the happy and probably the ‘instantly likeable’ song of this episode. I know this is a repetition but the backup vocal singers are extremely good. Hear it. It’s ok if you don’t see the video, but if at it, then have a look! It is a happy song. Very Happy and it’s what a pashtu should sound like. Kaho kya khayal hai?

To Sum up

The season 5 of cokestudio has started with a lot of melody and no it hasn’t dimmed the expectations that you associate with CokeStudio, Pakistan. While I cannot wait for Episode 2 already, still I will probably go back to listen to all these songs again and again and again.

About the site – cokestudio.com.pk

There is a ‘song review’ button on cokestudio.com.pk with every song. Click it to know the story behind the songs (including the dark story of Bohemia’s song that explains the passion with which he has performed). Another superb initiative that they have done is to embed the Cokestudio middle east and CokeStudio India website links. Excellent!

No, I won’t mention anything about the ‘upcoming’ CokeStudio at MTV here.

This is the time to revel with melody of CokeStudio, Pakistan. Melody.

No hysterics, no self indulgence, Just melody.

Take note, ye lesser mortals – You know who you are.

Videos here

SOTD – REIDI GUL – YASIR & JAWAD Khan Abdul ghani khan

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Wish  I could write a thing or two in praise of this song…the poetry…but am scared I will dilute the beauty of this composition and poetry so here it is

 

Intro:

Yawa wraze yao Sahra ke pa khkaar ootay wam rawan

Yo Gulab me walar olid prakeda, khaista khanda

Verse 1:

Yawa wraze yao Sahra k pa khkaar ootay wam rawan

Yao Gulab me walar olid prakeda, khaista khanda

Za khafa ye khwa la laram, ma wayl ‘Aaah zama pashan

ta hum gul ye bad-naseeba, ruk da zulfo da janan’

Na da cha nyazbinay gutay naram makh la ba de yaosi

Na ba khkul de ki sray shunday, da yar sra nazak labaan

Chorus 1:

Hagha ghalay shan muskay sho, wayl khan maa kawa khafgan

Hagha ghalay shan muskay sho, wayl khan maa kawa khafgan

Verse 2:

Za ba da sahra war na kram da Iran pa Gulistan

Dalta za yaw ao yak-ta yam, alta zar zama pashan

Char chapera speray khaoray, za yawaze yama raokhan

Dalta de tor Registan k za da rang ao noor lamba yam

Da khaais chapa naghma yam, karishma da laa-makan

Chorus 2:

Sta pa bagh ke pa zargunu di gulaab, zama pashan

Sta pa bagh ke pa zargunu di gulaab, zama pashan

(Rabab Solo)

Verse 3:

Dalta de tor Registan k za da rang ao noor lamba yam

Da khais chapa naghma yam, karishma da laa-makan

Sta pa bagh ke pa zargunu di gulaab, zama pashan

Yao be-numa sur daryab ke yao be-noom saskay rawan

Ta de hum pa khpal sahra ke khafa mashay zama rora !

Akhir ra ba shi deedan la de sok saway Ghani Khan..

Chorus 3:

Akhir ra ba shi deedan la de sook saway Ghani Khan

Akhir ra ba shi deedan la de sook saway Ghani Khan

Prelude

(Electric Guitar Solo)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Translation

Intro:

In a desert, once, on a hunt did I find,

With a radiant smile, a flower so fair;

Verse 1:

In a desert, once, on a hunt did I find,

With a radiant smile, a flower so fair;

Sadly, I approached and sighed, “Ah! Of my kind

Are you too – a hapless flower from a beloved’s hair.

Frail fingers wouldn’t take you to a soft face so close,

Nor would you be kissed by lips delicate and rose.”

Chorus 1:

With a silent smile the flower replied, “Don’t lose heart!

With a silent smile the flower replied, “Don’t lose heart!

Verse 2:

This desert I wouldn’t give up for the gardens of Iran,

A solitary I am here while legions are there,

Amidst this cursed soil I stand apart.

In this gray desert, a flamboyant flame of divine light am I,

Beauty’s silent song, a miracle from the sky.

Chrous 2:

In your garden, there are thousands of flowers like me

In your garden, there are thousands of flowers like me

(Rabab Solo)

Verse 3:

In this gray desert, a flamboyant flame of divine light am I,

Beauty’s silent song, a miracle from the sky.

In your garden, there are thousands of flowers like me –

A nameless droplet in a nameless sea.

You too, in your desert, don’t feel forlorn,

To behold you at last shall come a sore Ghani Khan.

Chorus 3:

To behold you at last shall come a sore Ghani Khan.

To behold you at last shall come a sore Ghani Khan.

Prelude

(Electric Guitar Solo)

Pushto Lyrics

یو ورځی یو صحرا کې په ښکار وتی وم روان

یو ګلاب می ولاړ ولید، پړقیده ښایسته خندان

زه خفه یې خوا له لاړم ، ما وې اه زما په شان

ته هم ګل یی بد نصیبه ورک د زلفو د جانان

نه د چا نیازبینې ګوتې ، نرم مخ له به دې یوسي

نه به ښکل دې کړي سری شونډې دیار سره نازک لبان

هغه غلی شان مسکی شو ، وې خان مه کوه خفګان

زه به دا صحرا ور نکړم ، د ایران په ګلستان

دلته زه یو او یکتا یم ، هلته زر زما په شان

چار چاپیره سپیرې خاورې ، زه یوازې یم روښان

دلته دې تور ریګستان کښې زه د رنګ او نور لمبه یم

د ښایست چپه نغمه یم ، کرشمه د لامکان

ستا په باغ کې په زرګونو دي ګلاب زما په شان

یو بې نومه سور دریاب کې یو بې نوم څاڅکی روان

ته دې هم په خپل صحرا کې خفه مه شې زما وروره!

آخر را به شي دیدن له دې څوک سوی غنی خان

Lyrics courtesy – http://en-gb.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150148364328013&id=326081598012

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