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CokeStudio Season 9, Episode 6

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Lagi Bina / Chall Mele Noon Challiye  by Sanam Marvi & Saieen ZahoorJaffer Zaidi.  What a clean rendition by Sanam Marwi to start the song. I had goosebumps when the padharo share des part made a quick appearance. She is closest to Abida parveen in terms of never losing a note even when she goes high or low. You know why Bullah danced when he danced? Probably because he heard a fakir called Saien Zahoor sing. Now on to Sain Zahoor – it is impossible not to be moved by his voice and here even though his parts are not composed with a soaring call to allah, you cannot help but sway when he takes a jibe at the ‘mela’ that is life. I am just blessed to be alive in the era of Zahoor. Mashallah song!

Tera Who Pyar/ Nawazishein Karam by Asim Azhar & Momina musteshan – Shuja Haider  – It is probably not a good thing for me to write but the sinking feel that the song gave me in the first 3 minutes, it made me sad, very sad. A beautiful medley of two songs (originally by Shuja himself). A song that probably dying lovers would sing as they leave this world for another. I loved Asim because you could actually hear the pain in his ‘nawazishein karam meherbaniyan’…God bless you kid!

Anokha Laadla by Damia Farooq & Basit AliFaakhir mehmood   Quite impressed with the tune and the way raga based fusion is romancing with rich instruments like accordion
And Sitar with a murderous guitar in the background and almost all throughout. Basit is so good! I haven’t heard anything from him so I would assume he is new. It is so reassuring to see new talent pay their respects to classical stuff with a hint of guitar here and a hint of grunge there. Mighty impressed by Faakhir’s composition. Damia could have been a bit more relaxed. She sounds stressed, may be because her parts are slightly more challenging.

Meri Meri –  Rizwan Butt & Sara HaiderShani Arshad  – Criminal injustice was meted out to us by keeping this song short. Sara Haider is too good and so is Rizwan butt. However, I felt Rizwan would have been better reciting the lines or perhaps choosing a different tune. Sara, whatever she got excelled in that. I absolutely adore the tune and the arrangement of the song, if only it was longer..

Not a single song came across as overproduced in this episode and that is such a relief…I have zero complaints now because I am too busy waiting for the last episode of the season next week, in which we will see Sabri saheb sing….for the last time.

This was a good episode overall

Previous episode review links here – 1, 2, 3, 4,

Review #CokeStudio8 Episode 6

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Previous Episode review here – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Ve Baneya  is a song that is fused brilliantly with an old song of Reshma. All of us have a film song for which we have bought an entire album at some stage in our lives. Mulazim Hussain’s part reminds you of that song. He is a good singer and the ease with which he sank his teeth to his part speaks volumes about his talent. Not once would you miss the feel of the song and that is just brilliant. Fizza Javed owns the song  by simply staying close to the classical brief oh her part. It is a part so nice, I wish she got more songs this season. She reminded me a bit of Humeira Channa though. I am surely looking forward to more from her in the days to come. Sajid ali and Arsalan keep the setting simple yet stick quite close to the song and create an armosphere which will have you swaying to this simple yet effective song.

Hare Hare Baans by Shazia Manzoor and Rizwan-Muazzam was the most anticipated song for me for the simple reason that I am yet to get out of the magic of Sakal Bann. (I still feel that is the best song of the season and would remain that way). Add to that the honey dipped voice of Shazia Manzoor and the wait was just unbearable. Fair to say, the song did exactly what I was expecting it to do. The voice and rendition of Shazia hits the bulls eye with ease. Rizwan-Muazzam and party are probably a gift to us listeners who like to listen to pucca music and not get carried over by cacophony. Easily one of the best songs of the season. There is a subtle tribute to piya tose naina laage re I feel in between 5:29 to 5:32 mins in the song, but then I am not a raga knowing chap, so please excuse me if you feel otherwise. Songs like these make it easy to wait for the next season of CokeStudio Pakistan…Thank God for that!

Jiya Karay – Truth be told, I was never a fan of anything except Purani jeans by Ali Haider. I remember while growing up, I used to have serious reservations listening to the voice and somewhat average gayaki of Ali. Still, I remember smiling ear to ear when I saw him in the artist line up. Nostalgia, may be. In this song, he teams up with Sara raza. Age doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong to Ali Haider because he sounds exactly the same (and goes slightly out of tune the way he used to!). Sara raza is the star of the song in my view. What is undoubtedly the star of the song is the arrangement. Be it the splendid Sitar from Shehroze or the harmonica or the flute by Abid ali and Sajid Ali. The song has a beautiful retro feel to it and even if I won’t play it again and again, it will surely become  a song that you won’t skip if you are on a long drive. Not giving a solo song to Ali Haider tells us that Strings learnt from the massive embarassment of getting Zohaib Hassan last year and giving him a lot of songs, including a solo. Old stars look and sound even better when they acknowledge and model their sound/work around the limitations age brings with it.

Kadi aao ni – All the fusion movements in the present day are about bringing mukhtalif artists/sounds and creating something which was not fathomed so far by most of us. With this song, Mai dhai and Atif Aslam came together. The promise of something exciting was always there. Just like Strings avoided the temptation of going berserk with Rizwan Muazzam in a simple babul song in hare hare baans, they have done a good job by keeping the pop feel in tact and keeping the wonderful Mai Dhai relatively subtle than her previous outing in the studio. The song has a pop feel to it but if you ask me, I would probably not listen to it again and again. Part of the reason is below average lyrics (Atif’s part). It is strictly average. Atif is good especially towards the end but somehow it didn’t come together very well for me. That said, I am in love with the first 14 seconds of the song and that wonderful harmonium which very quietly moves along the voice throughout the song.

Over all an average episode with 2 songs making the cut and going on the loop (Ve Baneya and Hare hare baans) and the remaining  two just about hummable but nothing much at that.

Now we have just one episode left and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who all will make an appearance in that. Still, am unable to figure out one name (or several names depending on the line up per song). The probable line up looks likes this

Malika-e-ghazal Mohtarma Farida khanum

Alicia Dias with siege

Malang party 

Who else?

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!

Dear Rohail Hyatt

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Dear Rohail Hyatt

As we can all smell a new season from your musical shelf is just around the corner, I hope…

I hope it will reinforce my belief in good fusion like it did when Saeein zahoor and Noori performed Aik Alif

I hope it will introduce me to newer languages like it did when sketches performed Mandh waai and left me teary eyed even when I couldn’t understand a bit of what was being said (‘Subtitles’ option came much later)

I hope it will make me meet a group of super talented singers like the chakwal group who will enthrall me by the sheer energy they bring to a song in a quiet, understated manner. Remember the kandyaari dhol geet?

I hope it will give me goosebumps like it does every time Tahir Mithu went ‘o ho alllah’ in pere pavan di saan.

I hope it will make me scream the way it did when Atif and Qayaas ran a riot of melody in charkha nolakha

I hope it will remind me to find the meaning within myself like the way it did when Arieb Azhar recited Na raindee hai

I hope it will take an old classic or two and treat them with the goodness that ONLY cokestudio pakistan can do. Remember mori araj suno? Remember dasht e tanhai?

I hope it will confuse me as to what was better? A superb composition throughout or the recital towards the end that took my breath away. Remember Kyun tu achcha lagta hai? Or the last few minutes of ‘mori araj suno’?

I hope it will bring back an old voice just like you brought ‘Lala’ Ataullah khan who gently reaffirmed the ‘still have it’ from ni oothan waaley.

I hope it will have another instrumental piece like seher that charmed the life out of me..

I hope it will show us that we can try venturing out to genres like a lullaby with a simple yet effective nindiya re..

I hope it will give yet another call to the almighty in the plain simple manner that quietly shakes us and wakes us all up…remember Allah hu?

I hope it will ask me to move along with the roads, hopelessly in love. Remember Chal diyay?

I hope it will educate me a bit more about nuances of the popular music forms like it did on Pashto…Remember Paimona or for that matter Larsha Pekhawar Ta

I hope it will take a raga like it took darbari and turned it by it’s head in Kuch ajab khail with a brilliant music arrangement. Some people heard music in the video, others plainly concentrated on why shafqat amanat ali khan was wearing shades in the studio..Kuch ajab khail kartaar ke indeed!

I hope it will wake up a lot of people to sheer awesomeness of a song that can be fused with anything (In this case a simple village song wherein the girls are being asked to get ready and visit a gathering nearby), still it can make you dance…Yes! I am talking about THIS!

I hope you get yet another lion or a lioness from Balochistan who can charm us like Akhtar chanal Zahri did with Dannah pa daanah. I refer to him as the Pied Piper from Balochistan.

I hope it will continue to have the lovely set of backup vocal singers who are undoubtedly the best we have ever come across. Rachel and Zoe just light up every song when they are around, just like all the musicians who are a part of the set up.

I hope it will make me float again like I do every time I hear Senraan Ra Baairya. Didn’t know you can make someone smile and cry in the same song keeping the old world charm intact and the fusion very contemporary.

Lastly, I hope it will erase one more line from these wrinkles (that divide us) like it has done every year so that we can sit and sway together to music because quite frankly, everything else is just a waste of time…

रागों की छनक से पूछ के देखेंगे कि वो पाकिस्तानी है या हिन्दुस्तानी..

So Sri Rohail Hyatt, over to you, Sir!

Coke Studio

Review – Coke Studio Season 5 Episode 3 – Keep it light!

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The new episode is here! Here is what I feel about this ‘light’ episode.

Nindiya ke paar – Uzair Jaswal starts this song in a light fashion with a lot of ‘first love pangs’ in his voice. The minimalist music arrangement compliments the soft style of singing and before you know Uzair weaves the timeless ‘Tere bin nai lagda dil mera sonia’ in between and takes the song to it’s peak, not before coming back to the ‘Nindiya ke paar’ melodiously. Yet again Zoe and Rachel compliment the song wonderfully well. The song is consistently ‘mellow’ and is very easy on the ears. Instantly liked it.

Aaj Rung hai – Hadiqa Kiani – To me, the song didn’t start on a very confident note. May be you will differ. The music setting (in the beginning) is exactly like her Kamlee song from episode 1, but the similarity ends here. The age old kalaam by Amir khusro ‘ Aaj Rang hai’ has been treated quite differently by Rohail in this because the layers aren’t many and it’s a fairly light on the senses. If you are one of those who like very aggressive rendition of this kalaam you might not like it. Still the ‘echo management’ in the song is just splendid. The song raises the tempo in the last 3 odd minutes with Hadiqa looking very comfortable coupled with an extremely different (And fast paced) music setting. The back up singers- Zoe and Rachel get into the act quite well. Very good effort. May be I won’t play this on and on, but is worth a ‘listen’ for it’s sheer innovative treatment to this timeless Qawwali.

Neray Aah – Rachel Viccaji & Farhad Humayun – The brilliant starting of this song will instantly arrest you. Farhad leaves the drums and gets behind the microphone with the very lovely Rachel Viccaji to sing what’ the first ‘filmi’ song on CokeStudio. You can find the filmi version of this song here. Farhad has sung this earlier as well and you can find his version here. This version is all about raw energy in the studio. Rachel raises the bar high for Farhad to match up which he effortlessly does, giving us an extraordinary song in the process. Brass band, Electric Guitar and Dhols also feature in the song by the way. The song is sung (and arranged) with so much ‘finality’ that you feel surprised on the way one sung can be interpreted. Excellent Rohail Hyatt written all over the song!

This song should be a ‘go to’ guide for the lesser mortals on how to do a ‘filmi’ song if you want to.

School di Kitaab – Hello Bohemia! Rap remains more or less the same. The lyrics, very suggestive. It’s about Bohemia telling how he has  created an industry and how crazy his fans are. Hmmmm. They remember his songs like the way they read books in the school. While in the ‘song review’ section of cokestudio.com.pk they mention that Bohemia wanted kids to go back to books and not just learn his songs. Frankly I liked the song but this message was absent for me in the song. Not a great song, but I liked it!

Taaray – Bilal on his guitar starts the song and you can instantly find out that it’s a positive and confident song. Excellent guitar play and vocally backed as usual Zoe and Rachel, this song just completes the overall light feel of this episode. Motivational lyrics and simple composition will ensure this hits the right chords with those who prefer to keep it light and listen to simple songs.

Rohail Hyatt continues to innovate and the songs of this episode seem to be carefully picked to keep the ‘light’ feel in the mind. The expectations from Coke Studio Pakistan continue to rise and rise and rise! Since I prefer the songs that touch my soul and not ‘light’ songs I wanted more from this episode.

My picks – Neeray aah, Nindiya ke paar and Aaj Rung hai

Do visit – http://www.cokestudio.com.pk for more information, videos and to just check out the awesomeness of Coke Studio, the way it is meant to be!

THE Coke Studio Season 5, Episode 2

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Afer a superb Episode 1 it was obvious for us to wait for the episode 2 and it’s out now! Lets see the contents of this melody goodybag!

Ishq aap bhe awallaChakwal Group & Meesha shafi – Yes, Meesha shafi is back but this time it’s not just about her, its about the mind blowing Chakwal group who accompany her! The beat is very ‘Chori chori’ like in the beginning and that’s where the similarity ends. The group singers break into an excellently coordinated song. Revolving around a love struck girl who is filling water from the well the irony in this version is that the female singer (Meesha), doesn’t get ‘solo singing time’! Ok, we would have liked that a bit more, Rohail! Note. it. Excellent song! (Meesha is audible from 2 mins onwards, still).

Peere pavandi saan – The extremely talented and melodious – Tahir Mithu starts this track with such a clean alaap that you will probably drop everything you are doing to listen to the song. Then the song takes off and how! Backed up superbly by Rachel and Zoe, this track is the drug of this episode. Easily. The track although a sad song is treated exquisitely by the musicians. Repeat repeat! That’s all.

Rabba Sacheya – Atif Aslam – Starts with a very ‘Na Raindee hai’ atmosphere, Rachel and Zoe accompany Atif and navigates the suffering of humanity through the woods of religion and similar vices! The words (punjabi) are very strong and the music arrangement is appropriately subdued. Even when Atif stops for a moment or two, the music doesn’t try to dominate, rather it continues with the uniform and subtle pace. Atif adopts a very ‘word by word’ style of singing and takes the song to it’s conclusion along with the excellent Rachel and Zoe. A very different song but something that irritated was Atif’s ‘firang’ style pronunciation of  some words. May be it’s just me, but I didn’t like it. Average song on first hearing.

Larho Mujhe – Bilal – Ok, arresting (somewhat childlike) style start of the song is pleasantly different. Of course Bilal is not one o the most ‘classically trained’ singers around, still he very wisely chooses to stay close to the tune and doesn’t indulge in any hysterics. Result? – Superb song! Goosebumps. Yes. Lyrics? Beyond class! At times very ordinary, at times hard hitting! In between there is a superb (trance like?) mixing of vocals that just accentuates the whole feel of the song and takes the song to a higher level! This song should be publicized more, heard more. Superbly done!

Khabaram Raseeda – Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad & friends – Anyone familiar with these singers knows that the song will start with a lot of alaaps and will be the longest song of the season. This song borrows the premise and lyrics from Hazrat Amir Khusro. This is just a near 13 mins treat, hopelessly romantic. The music arrangement mellow non intrusive. The old style of singing is a delight with the singers commentating on the various lines they sing. Charming!

The episode 2 keeps up with the melodious pace of episode 1 and doesn’t disappoint in anyway. I am getting tired of mentioning this that the backup vocals (by Rachel and Zoe) have to be applauded much more. They are an inseparable part of many songs but in this season they are continuously (And almost quietly) raising the level of every song more or less.

The choice of songs, singers and the overall set up continues to be earthy and pure, unlike some other lesser mortals who would make a big deal on ‘injecting’ an alaap or two and would go ‘Oh My God! What an experiment!

Only an institution as evolved as CokeStudio Pakistan can experiment and succeed in varied genres. I just hope that next episode is aired sooner and the goodness rubs on some lesser mortals in India as well!

Rohail, you make us lesser mortals – Greedy!

Must visit – Cokestudio.com.pk for everything related to CokeStudio

Song links below from this episode

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