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CokeStudio Season 7 Episode 6 – Review

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After a break, CokeStudio Pakistan’s Season 7 resumes!

Chaap tilakWhen names like Abida parveen and Rahat fateh ali Khan appear in the same song with CokeStudio Pakistan’s iconic backdrop, you do expect a lot. This is of course, if Rahat fateh ali Khan is not in his ‘done to death Bollywood singing avatar’, but I digress. I won’t lie, the opening piano notes gave me goosebumps. Abida Parveen and Rahat fateh ali set it up quite nicely with their powerful yet soulful opening act. The backup vocal group called Humnawa adds to the sense of occasion. Even though the song lasts for about 9 minutes, I could have done with a couple of minutes more because after the mounting the song got thanks to the opening, it fades all too soon. Oh yes, the part at about 7:26 minutes when Mahotarma Abida parveen joins Rahat fateh ali khan is beautiful and for me, the high point of the song. A parting thought – may be strings could have given this song to Abbas Ali Khan instead of Rahat fateh ali khan. I don’t mean to imply that Rahat fateh ali isn’t good in the song but towards the end, you do feel that both Abida parveen and Rahat fateh ali khan’s voice isn’t complimenting but competing with each other and the song drifts albeit for a moment towards noise. This could have been because texture wise, both the voices hold the same character, in my view. Not the greatest covers of chaap tilak, this.

Descent to the Ocean floor – Usman Riaz weaves magic in the ‘neoclassical’ offering by Strings and it is actually quite nice to see an out and out instrumental piece once a while. The notes on the piano convey a feeling of descent which is at first quick and bouncy but settles down once the descent is complete. The strings section adds to the aesthetics of the song along with the twinkling Xylophone and free flowing backups by Rachel and Sara. At the risk of sounding extremely greedy, I would have liked this to be a longer track. Splendid job!

Yaad – Javed bashir gets another song in the season and honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to the song, not because I don’t like Javed Bashir, but I get tired if I listen to the millions harkats he takes in a simple song. The back up vocals are again manned by humnawa. The song has a (pardon me for saying this) bollywood song DNA. Thank God for Tanveer Tafu and the melodious harmonium by Arsalan Ali. Watch and listen how Tanveer saheb weaves the instrument almost all throughout the song without interfering in the effect of the song. The song did not work for me otherwise.

Jaana – Zoheb hassan tries so hard! That is all there to say. Wisely, strings pairs his song along with the master Amir Zaki so that the glitches in the singing are camouflaged well enough. While it was a relief to hear Zoe Viccaji, it was excruciating to get yet another song from Zoheb hassan because he has already done a lot in the season and perhaps the producers should have given someone else a chance? The song has a pop character and the weighed down start that Zoheb hassan gives, settles down thanks to Zoe but the song is below average on the whole because for once even the lyrics shout out their mediocrity.

Probably the most disjointed episode so far with just one track by Usman Riaz standing out and the other featuring two stalwarts just about making the cut. This is not the CokeStudio I used to look forward to.

Now we know why Strings do not give out the songs in the promo and cover it up with an amateur, accented voice over. Talking of the entire ‘in your face’ title ‘sound of nation’ – what is so ‘sound of nation-sque’ in the voice over, I wonder!

Thoughts of Episode 4 & 5 – CokeStudio Pakistan Season 6

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Episode 4

Aamay Bhashaili Rey – Alamgir sahab started this in what is called Dhaka bangla, I am told. A heart breaking and tear inducing request made to the ‘majhi’. Alamgir sahab isn’t new to singing so it was hardly a surprise to see him taking this traditional composition and hugging it out melodiously. Fariha Pervez adds the ‘ful’ to this ‘beauty’ of a song and makes it all so beautiful! Braj bhasha has a certain sweetness to it and Rohail Hyatt has cleverly and mildly arranged Fariha’s parts so that the listener gets engrossed. It’s an absolute delight to watch Fariha call out ‘Saiyyan bina…Saiyyan bina ghar suna’ and Alamgir sahab make a request at the same time to his ‘Majhi’ to lead him safely through to his home. Sheer delight!

Laila o laia – There are some songs which you just know would be awe-F-some right from the first second of the song. This, ladies and gentleman is the same kind of song. Say hello to the ever smiling Rostam Mirlashari as he mesmerizes you with his requests to ‘Laila’ to go with him for sight seeing. Be it the violin, the constant ‘neat’ set of beats or the adorable lyrics, the song is a hoot! The complimenting balochi backups by Master Sheeraz Ali Sabzal Mohammad Ali Osman Baloch and Shaukat Ali are understated yet add to the elasticity of the calls of ‘Laila’ in the song. Just about everything is right about the song. A special word for Mr. Miloš Punišić in the song. Sir, you are just amazing!

Ishq Kinara* – Üsküdar’a Gider Iken – Performed by Sumru Ağıryürüyen and Zoe Viccaji is a peppy example of mixing the ‘inspiring and inspired’ in one total package. The song has a very ‘nomadic’ beat to it and the use of Kanun in the beginning sets everything just right! Will I listen to it again? No. Is the song bad? Hell No! Hear it and make your own opinion.

Mahi Gal*- Asad Abbas croons this traditional composition with consummate ease and catches your attention with the long taan he takes at the start of the song. The arrangement is lucid, the singing flawless. To me, the entire part of Fariha Pervez didn’t make much sense and even though (as per the website) the idea of her part was to raise the mood and tempo of the song, I felt it slowed down the song. Barring that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the song.

A satisfying episode overall. The song that stand out is the kora part and Asad’s singing from Mahi gal Aamay Bhashaili Rey and Laila o laila and delightfully so!

Episode 5

Miya ki Malhar* – Ayesha Omar, Fariha Pervez, Zara Madani and Rustam Fateh Ali Khan put us on a journey that starts with a drizzle and leads us to a massive downpour of music, stitched in the raga Miya ki Malhar (the rain raga) and performed with Braj ki boli. Ayesha Omar goes a scale up and sounds pleasantly different from her previous offering in the season. This one is no bad either. Zara is pleasant and Rustam sahab gets very little mic-time. In my opinion though, the song belongs to Fariha Pervez who shows ease in the way she sings and delivers one of the happiest song CokeStudio Pakistan has ever presented to us. The arrangement is top class with the welcome flute in between and a lot of artificial thunder. The heavy shredding towards the end might put off some people but then not many people like heavy rains either isn’t it? 2 Thumbs up for this!

Moray Naina* – A song that is composed and sung by Zara herself with a cokestudio twist. This would be the most innovative song of this season arrangement wise. Imaginative beats that are constantly building up the momentum and may lead you to think the song is just about to get started. You can sense the stillness of the song by the superb arrangement and the overall atmosphere is just top class. I am waiting for the people to call this song as ‘indulgent’ thanks to a prolonged spell of fusion towards the last few minutes of the song. Since it’s a completely new sound that Rohail presents us with here, am sure not many would take to the song at the first instant.

Sawaal – Kande – The original rockstar who used to set the stage on fire is back in the song and here Ali Azmat teams up with Muazzam ali khan and his qawwal group to give what can be described as a  ‘powerful’ song. In his previous appearance this season, Ali Azmat took a lighter look at the ‘mechanics’ of going up the ‘success ladder’. In this song though, he tackles the serious question about life and he does it with the intensity that can melt stone. Those long taans he takes are haunting and would surely make you think. The qawwalisque participation by Muazzam ali khan and his qawwals is linked to the part that Ali Azmat sings. Two different songs, both interconnected. That’s fusion, Baby! The level to which Muazzam ali khan takes this song towards the end would have made Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali khan proud, very proud.

Allah Hu* – It would be a criminal waste to have Saieen Zahoori leave the studio without we getting to hear the oldest and the purest call to the almighty in his pious voice. Here, the treatment is very pop like which is not distressing to the ears at all. Abrar ul haq stretches himself to leave a solid imprint on the senses. (Spoiler alert) – Tell me if you don’t get goosebumps at 5:19 when Zahoor sahab swoops in with a call to Bulleh shah. An ordinary version of ‘allah hu’ this is not! Get up, dance because the world is senseless and says anything! A loud cheer to this song!

All and all a delicious episode that gave us the raw power and intensity of thought from Muazzam Ali and Ali Azmat, the call to the almighty by Saieen Zahoor, the meditative state via Zara madani’s Moray naina and torrential rains via Miya ki Malhar.

All the songs with *mark have the back up girls Zoe and Rachel Viccaji in them and quite honestly I have run out of praises for the duo. The character they lend to a song, any song is just unparalleled and they are without a doubt a big strength for the Studio.

As the inevitable Season ending is upon us, the offerings are getting more and more delicious. A typical Rohail Hyatt’s tease strategy but we are not complaining!

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!

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

CokeStudio Season 5, Episode 5

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Dasht e tanhai – Meesha shafi starts this with a soulful touch (with minimal music) and the composition comes to life with the typical ‘CokeStudio-sque’ style with all the music hitting us barely 2 minute in the song. The comparison with the Iqbal bano’s version is an obvious ‘Go-to’ topic for this. I haven’t heard it in a long time and although the traces remained in my head, I didn’t (And I WON’T) compare the notes between the two. This beautiful composition deserves (like all the CokeStudio compositions) to be evaluated stand alone, in it’s entirety. Towards the end, the violin makes up for the ‘Goosebumps’ factor. This would have been tough for Meesha to sing along with this reasonably fast paced music arrangement. Still, she is Meesha and she does it with aplomb. This will grow on you if you don’t like it already. 2 Thumbs up!

Koi Labda  – The talented Viccaji sisters start this song along with Symt. Like the previous song by Symt, it appears perfectly rehearsed and very sharp as he takes us via various by shades of love and the way he leaves on ‘Har kisi nu mukammal jahan nahi milta’, Only Sanam Marvi could have picked it up. I couldn’t help feel that the portion of Sanam Marvi was recorded separately but I might be wrong. (As per the CokeStudio website, Sanam was brought later. I apologize for this) Sanam sticks to her familiar territory and Symt takes it over splendidly. My vote to Symt for this one.

Mahi – Bang! And then it dies! Farhad then holds the microphone for us. The song has a very slow start and the magnificent shehnai holds the listener close and lets Farhad take us through as he sings about the search for his beloved. From 2:44 minutes, the song picks up the pace and then it dies down almost immediately as Farhad takes to the drums and shehnai makes a heroic comeback in the song. Like Charkha Nolakha, this one also doesn’t have a definite hook and has a lot of music to its credit.  The voice that Farhad has isn’t (in my view) suited for loud alaaps and that’s the only blip on this otherwise above average song.

Waah Waah Jhulaara – The Superb Chakwal group this time get a solo song and they sing a beautiful song about how time takes everything from us. The super talented Viccaji sisters have a special role to play in this song as well. The magnificent joint alaaps and long taans that chakwal group takes is the stuff legend (and folk music) is made of. The music is kept at a minimum dominated by Guitar, Dholak and drums. The simplicity of singing style (that reminds me the way Aarti is done in temples) will bowl you over because of sheer impact this group leaves on your mind. Easily, the find of this season and I do hope we get to hear more from this group (Cokestudio or un-cokestudio wise).

Seher – In one of the firsts, CokeStudio Pakistan recorded this track (without Farhan Rais khan) (source – cokestudio.com.pk) and Farhan Rais khan was invited later to play to the track.  It’s pure Sitar magic and with the bad habits infused in our minds (thanks to below average intellects of people calling anything as ‘fusion’ these days), this track takes ‘fusion’ to another level altogether. Never loud. Never ‘on display’. Quietly soothing and insanely beautiful. Did I forget to mention the backup vocals by Viccaji sisters in this as well? This is a ‘forever in the folder’ sort of a track. You just can’t delete this from your music library. Simple.

My picks – Wah Wah jhulara, Dasht e tanhai, Seher and Koi labda

With Season 5 coming to an end, Rohail Hyatt demonstrated (without featuring himself in any song, mind you) that good music is what it is all about and good music is all what it should be about.

More power to CokeStudio Pakistan!

As we here in India try our hands with multiple producers (and 250 odd musicians, aptly advertised!), It’s time we stop comparing Pakistan and Indian versions of CokeStudio because in my humble opinion, CokeStudio Pakistan is a ‘Go to’ case study. We can better it, we can ruin it but we can never match it’s sound.

We have got to find our own style and then we can compliment this excellent body of work by Rohail Hyatt which is available to us:

FREE. FOREVER. Yes.

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!

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

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