Sunday, July 08, 2012

[In Review] Coke Studio: Best Songs

Season 5

Coke Studio is back with was bang this summer and once again Rohail Hyatt knocked us all out with some killer tunes. Coke Studio really is proving to be a benchmark in Pakistani music, and further still in subcontinental music.

The first episode of this season of Coke Studio premiered on more than two dozen TV and Radio channels nationwide on Saturday, May 12th, and the season ended this July 7th. Here we will be looking at the best Coke Studio had to offer this season.

1. Charkha Nolakha

Atif Aslam collaborated with the upcoming rock band Qayaas to churn out a classic. This song is based upon Bulley Shah's kalam and with the level of Punjabi that exudes from it, captions come in real handy. Basically the track is about the preciousness of a dedicated life. Charkha means a spinning wheel while nolakha means priceless. Here charkha is figuratively used as life.
Atif Aslam carries the song really well and does justice to it. His co-vocalist, however, finds it difficult to carry this heavy Punjabi and sometimes fails to pronounce the word correctly. However, the music on the track is absolutely brilliant, especially the unique undertone of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. Also, the track's tempo changing is impeccable.
This song can be termed as a fusion in the true sense as Atif Aslam's smooth tones are amalgamated with Jaswal's brazen vocals. The latter really adds great highs to the song with his rock screams. A must listen and I am not hesitant in saying this that it just might be the Alif Allah of this season.

2. Ishq Aap Bhi Awalla

The ultra-modern Meesha Shafi and the provincial Chakwal Group came together to give an enchanting performance in the second episode of the season. The group from the Salt Range give a haunting chorus of an account of a woman in love that is down by the stream to fetch some water. Add to it the contrasting style of Shafi's and you have a number that you can listen to repeatedly. This song is omnipresent at weddings in the region and Coke Studio's presentation aims at widening its popularity circle. I couldn't help but notice the group's ability to sing in an incessant unison, with nuances of each member's own distinct timbre.
For someone raised and educated in a city, Shafi does great justice to the Punjabi verses of the song and sings with just the right amount of ebb and flow.

3. Khabaram Raseeda

The acclaimed qawal duo of Farid Ayaz and Abu Muhammad returned these season and gave another rollicking performance. They sing with great verve and emotion and impart a physical meaning to this Persian kalaam of Amir Khusro's. The kalaam revolves around a worldly imagery of the beloved that is juxtaposed against the love for God. It is mesmerizing to listen and the alaaps manage to penetrate your soul, leaving you begging for more. A good part of the qawalli conjures up psychedelic images, speaking volumes about the singing prowess of the duo. Also the fact that the qawalli is 16 minutes long doesn't weigh on a listener. It's so soothing that it draws you into a cocoon of it's own, a cocoon where you temporarily severe your connection with the outside world. True sufism.
This kind of treatment of qawalli will do wonders in bringing its lost fame back as it is more geared towards the inclinations of the younger generation.

4. Pere Pavandi San

This was one of the most refreshing and interesting track of this season. It is based upon Shah Abdul Latif Bithai's poetic rendition of  the famous Sindhi folk tale of Sassi and Punno. The poem talks about the frantic and painstaking search of Sassi for her newlywed groom, Punnu, who is intoxicated and taken away by his brothers to his abode in Makran, Baluchistan. The chorus is about Sassi's plight and how she is beseeching Punnu's brother to let him stay a night with her in Bhambore, Sindh. The piece of poetry can be thought of as a symbolic search of God.
Tahir Mithu's voice really adds to the beauty of this work and he syncs flawlessly with the funky tunes that are infused in this song. This song also speaks volumes about the sweetness and richness of the Sindhi language.

5. Nindya Ke Par

Uzair Jaswal, in recent months, have skyrocketed to the forefront of Pakistani music. The center piece of this achievement was his soulful number Tere Bin which has garnered over 2 million views on Youtube. A Coke Studio call seemed imminent and he didn't disappoint. Blending his romantic number with NFAK's evergeen, Tere Bin Nayi Lagda Dil Mera, proved an ultimate winner.
Jaswal's vocals, though a little on the higher side, complimented both tracks rather well. Especially, the last couple of minutes of Nindya Ke Par really reach out to the soul. I am sure a lot of wretched hearts will relate to the longing in Jaswal's voice.

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