Sunday September 2, 2012

Top recent listens (August 2012)

Posted by Karthik

Title song, Kyon, Aashiyan & Phir le aya dil – Barfi (Hindi – Pritam)
One of the best Hindi soundtracks in recent times! I had a tough time zeroing in on my favorite tracks- it kept changing almost every day. I have finally stopped at Aashiyan as my personal favorite and the soundtrack’s best. Love the accordion usage in the song!

Master of Masters, Flight of the bumblebee, Daybreak in the West & Crimson Sun – Following My Heart (Mandolin U. Rajesh)
One of the best non-film albums I have heard in recent times – ever since I came to know about its launch, I have been looking forward to an encore of Rajesh’s earlier album (where he worked with pianist Anil Srinivasan), Into The Light. This one goes to the next level and the global exposure and collaborations help too!

Creamsicle sunset, Mullach A’tSi, No More Amsterdam & Sunshine Electric Raindrops – The Story of Light (Steve Vai)
The Story of Light is the eighth studio album by American guitarist Steve Vai. It is a fantastic showcase of the man’s prowess with the instrument, quite different from the way another guitar favorite, Santana, uses it. Creamsicle Sunset, in particular, sees Vai using the guitar in the Hawaiian style and even reaches the Eastern style usage at some points where it is more of a pinched sound. Mullach A’tSi is quite similar in style and almost like a homage to Jeff Beck!

Will you be there – Thaandavam (Tamil – GV Prakash Kumar)
More than the other eligible tracks, the one song I kept playing long after moving on from this soundtrack was Will you be there. Fantastic vocals by Alyssa Mendonsa and Maria… and a light, hummable tune.

Radha & Ishq wala love – Student Of The Year (Hindi – Vishal-Shekhar)
There is Karan Johar all over this soundtrack – whoever he gets to compose music for his directorial ventures, much like Yash Chopra or Subash Ghai’s stamp, there is the Karan Johar stamp. At the most basic level, it is signified by English phrases sung with a funny accent and repeated all through the song. Radha has it too. Thnakfully, Vishal-Shekhar too have their stamp all over this listenable soundtrack. Just that… 2 stamps in one album make it a bit too predictable. Ishq wala love, perhaps because of Salim Merchant’s vocals, sounds almost like a Salim-Sulaiman composition!

Jada jada jaada, Sahaayane & Adi raangi – Saattai (Tamil – D.Imman)
I still cannot understand how the composer+lyricist combo let Shreya sing ‘Pooku and thakku’ in Sahaayane. Adi raangi is my current favorite of the soundtrack, followed by Jada jada. Wish more people called Ramesh Vinayagam to sing… and to compose too. Here’s my favorite Ramesh Vinayagam-composed song, as a bonus – Vizhigalin aruginil vaanam, from Azhagiya Theeye.

Mere nishaan – OMG Oh My God (Hindi – Anjjan-Meet Bros)
Beyond the other masala tracks in the soundtrack, the surprising winner is the bizarrely named composing entity – Anjjan-Meet Bros’ – Mere nishaan. Kailash is the perfect choice for the song and the lyrics make a mark too.

Kaal mulaitha poove – Maattrraan (Tamil – Harris Jayaraj)
Javed Ali brings back memories (pleasant? Horrible?) of Udit Narayan, but Harris’ tune makes up for everything – one lively package using Russian folk at the right dose to cook up a heady song. Particularly interesting is the unconventional tune for the anupallavi – helps in believing that Harris still has something left in him to think differently.

Dil loche & Man patang – Coke Studio India, Season 2, Episode 5 (Ehsaan Loy)
Divya Kumar continues to sound mildly like Sukhwinder, but the tune cooked by Ehsaan and Loy is top-notch, with fantastic guitar work. But this episode also contains what I personally felt is the song of Season 2 – Mahalaxmi Iyer and Dominique Cerejo join Assamese singers Banjyotsna Borgohain and Sharodi Borah to produce absolute magic. The North Eastern’ish folk rhythms and keys help enormously.

Kajar bin kare – Coke Studio India, Season 2, Episode 6 (Karsh Kale)
The only song I liked in the Karsh Kale episode and it turns out that it was composed by Salim Merchant and Ustad Sultan Khan!

Lagi lagi & Pinjra – Coke Studio India, Season 2, Episode 7 (Shantanu Moitra)
Lagi lagi is very, very Moitra. Beautiful vocals by Kaushiki Chakravarty and a captivating hook with a very Bengali base. Almost like Pinjra, another superb track from the same episode… similar high in the catchy hook!

Malhar jam & Tokari – Coke Studio India, Season 2, Episode 8 (Assorted artists)
Papon is in his usual dependable self while using a traditional melody in Tokari with help from Kalyan Baruah in the guitar and that mid-way turn into something completely unexpected and exciting! Malhar jam, on the other hand, is a fantastic showcase of Harish’s vocal range… and Ananda Prasanna Pattnaik’s flute jam mid-way!

Just to close the 2nd season of Coke Studio India, I believe this has been a solid effort from the team in making sure the first season’s mistake is not repeated. It was thankfully not dependent on one composer and the sheer range of composers made a huge difference. I suppose that is the way it may work in India, unlike Coke Studio Pakistan, where Rohail, as a composer, has such an integral part to play – given the sheer range and variety of music in India, the multi-composer model is perhaps the way to go. To sum up, my top 5 songs from Coke Studio India Season 2 (in order of my preference)

01. Man patang –  Composed & Produced by: Ehsaan Noorani & Loy Mendonsa. Vocals: Mahalakshmi Iyer, Dominique Cerejo, Banjyotsna Borgohain and Sharodee Borah.
02. Nirmohiya – Composer: Amit Trivedi. Vocals: Devendra Singh & Harshdeep Kaur.
03. Mauje naina – Composer: Clinton Cerejo. Vocals: Bianca Gomes, Shadab Faridi & Altamash Faridi.
04. Tokari – Composer: Traditional composition; Produced & Recreated by: Papon. Vocals: Papon & Sugandha Garg.
05. Yatra – Composer: Amit Trivedi. Vocals: Shriram Iyer & Mili Nair.

Here are the 5 videos for these songs, for a quick check.

Kaatrai konjam, Mudhal murai, Saayndhu saayndhu, Sattru munbu, Vaanam mella & Yennodu vaa vaa – Neethaane En Ponvasantham (Tamil – Ilayaraja)
I have gushed enough in my review and the fact that I’m adding a review posted on September 1st in the August recent listens (just because it may be too late to add these songs in the September top listens list at the end of this month!) says enough. There is a debate in the comments section of this album’s review on Gautham Menon’s role in bringing these songs out of Raja – I had responded that Raja is known to have delivered delightful gems even to dud films in the 80s and 90s and if we can’t attribute those beautiful songs to those directors (and attribute them solely to Raja), I’m not sure of we can credit Gautham too for this soundtrack.

I’d need to concede that I haven’t moved fully from that position, but I’m indeed thankful to him for giving Raja this opportunity. This is perhaps Raja’s biggest so-called A-list film in recent times and that opportunity, Gautham’s sensibility (to some extent) and the overall modern outlook… all would have helped Raja deliver this knockout of a soundtrack.

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