Sunday August 18, 2013

Coke Studio @ MTV, Season 3, Episode 1 (Music review) – A R Rahman

Posted by Karthik

The late poet Valee’s lyrics headline Naan yen pirandhen, that, as a tune, follows Rahman’s synthetic rustic music that he pioneered with Kizhakku Cheemayile. His vocals are heartfelt and so is the fabulously put together orchestration where Prasanna and Mohini Dey stand out even in their minimal portions.

Rayhanah and Issrath Quadhri, Rahman sisters rule the rendition of Ennile maha oliyo, penned by Kutti Revathi. Not to be left behind is that ghatam-like (it is not!) sonorous percussion Sivamani employs almost throughout the song – it lends the song an ethereal quality!

Prasanna’s guitar literally plays the seventh voice in Aao balma, the traditional bandish sung by Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and his family consisting of Murtuza Mustafa, Qadir Mustafa, Rabbani Mustafa, Hasan Mustafa, Faiz Mustafa. The carnatic and Hindustani blend is heady and the extended closure where Sivamani joins with his percussion too, it is one heck of a harmony!

Soz O salaam, the track that showed up only online (and not on TV) is interesting for the vocal contrast between the old and the young – Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and his grandson Faiz Mustafa. And of course, Rahman’s work on the Continuum is astounding. The overall track is a great example of what modern recording and evolving imagination can do to a traditional gharana tune!

Rahman singing in Bengali, joining Suchi is not the only wonderful highlight of Jagao mere des ko. It also has a fantastic jugalbandi between Prasanna and Mohini, on guitar and bass guitar, respectively. Even the otherwise-annoying Blaaze pitches in with an impressive vocal jugalbandi with Suchi, while Sivamani too joins at one point to create an exciting finale!

And then, the best song of the episode – Zariya. It is fitting MTV chose this as the face of this season by launching it much ahead of the show. Rahman has created a superb template between the base materials he has at his disposal – Nepalese Buddhist hymn by Ani Choying Drolma, the chorus, in Hindi, penned by Prasoon Joshi and Jordanian singer Farah Siraj’s rendition of a traditional Jordanian tune, Reedaha (watch an earlier version of the song by Farah!). He layers the Buddhist hymn and Hindi chorus first, the Jordanian intro and the Hindi chorus next and then a supern musical interlude with Rahman on the continuum. It is then the actual tune (Reedaha, by Farah) opens and now it is brought together with the other two elements to merge into a mindblowing world music concoction! Special mention must be made to the ladies in the chorus – they seem to be enjoying themselves so thoroughly that it is mighty infectitious! (And I guess I’m not alone in this aspect; people have already picked their favorites too!)

Rahman’s opener to this year’s edition of Coke Studio @ MTV is as diverse as it can get. His style of fusion and the kind of freedom he gives his musicians works wonders in the first episode! His choice of singers too, as always, is pitch perfect!

PS: I used to write about Coke Studio episodes (both Indian and Pakistani versions) as part of the top monthly listens till last year. But, given the kind of impact the program has achieved since then, it perhaps deserves its own entry, without the clutches of the 100-300 word count I usually enslave myself with. So, stop counting the words in this review.

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