Monday, December 11, 2006

Nitin Sawhney at the Jazz Cafe

I had the absolute privilege of seeing Nitin Sawhney and his band live at the Jazz cafe in Camden town yesterday. For starters, the event was non-smoking by request from the artists. The subject of 'non-smoking' is taboo in the U.K. so this was a pleasant surprise and my respect for the artists went up marginally right there.

Although we had to wait for an hour and a half before the band came on stage. However the band got to work right away and as soon as the first note played, it was instant gratification. The band started the set with 'Sunset' with vocals by Sharon Duncan. Sharon's voice lended tremendously to the depth of this song and was a great start to the show. Nitin's playlist stayed on the contemporary jazz side for a bit but with the unmistakable Indian influence (specially with the tabla - played by Aref Durvesh). The show then went to the next level with Tina Grace. Tina was a picture of emotion and grace as she got lost on the songs she was singing. Natacha atlas was another forceful performer. Again it was the depth of her vocals and the passion on stage that blew my mind away. She was a pleasure to watch. Nitin's special guest for the night was Fink who played the guitar and performed one of his own songs. Some more songs that were on the set:

Dead man
The immigrant
The conference
Letting go

Sawhney's displayed his political influence when he introduced 'The immigrant'. He wanted to celebrate the diversity that made up the audience, the band, the city and the country.
The highlight of the evening though was the encore after which we heard what i had been waiting for all night - 'Nadia'. Reena Bhardwaj was absolutely stunning. This track has a hevay drum and bass component which was well substituted by drums, tabla and vocal percussion by Jason Singh. Very impressive.

I should also give props to Ashvin Srinivasan who was on the flute and lended vocals to many songs. The flute is a big part of Nitin's compositions and we got ample doses of the flute yesterday.

There was another highlight of the evening for me- Meeting Osmani soundz. They had been helping the band with some sound effects all evening but after the show they got on the decks and went into heavy eastern drum and bass. I learnt from the man himself that what we were hearing was unreleased material due out next year.

This is a must see show was anyone who is fond of Sawhney's music and fond of asian influenced music in general.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Vishal Bharadwaj is probably the only director I know who has written and directed a movie and composed it's music too. He has always been known as a serious story teller and music composer. He caught mya ttention first with Chappa chappa in Maachis like he did of most other music lovers. However he hit it home for me with Satya and "Baadalon se" soulfully sung by Bhupender. I guess Vishaal is one of those musician who knows how to compose music worthy of and superbly suited to the likes of SureshWaadkar and Bhupender. Anyways lets go back to Omkara.

Omkara has music that blends the old and the new flawlessly. While most music directors' idea of old with new is a trashy sample from somewhere mixed with some tabla/sitar, Vishaal steps into the soul of the poetry and of the movie to create very gripping music. I'm listening to Raahat Fateh Ali Khan's "naina" which has melodious electronic and grungy background score. I notice that a lot of the emphasis is on the subtle sounds in the background and they are catching my ear the most. Vishaal sings well with Shreya Goshal on one of the tracks but you can hear a lot of his breathing that great singers effertlessly mask out. I'm sure he will get better at this. Rekha Bharadwaj (his wife?) sings soulfully in "Namak" and "Laakad" the latter of which resembles some of what we heard in Maachis. Still it has the signature depth of Gulzar's lyrics and Vishaal's music.

I can bet that "Beedi" is going to be a massive track this year. It's got the grimy soul of the country side accentuated by Sukhwindara Singh's raspy, thickly accented voice so apt for such songs. IT's another chayya chayya in the making. Sunidhi Chauhan lends her voice well on this track.

Suresh Waadkar's Jag Ja has a very melodious score and once again its the instrumentation in the background that makes it haunting.

Great score Vishaal. I can't wait to see the end product where the sounds and the sights will come together.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shantanu Moitra sounds like a veteran musician

Shantanu Moitra has only 6 or 7 movies on his resume but don't let that baffle. He works with great poets such as the great Gulzar and has composed music for movies that have turned a new leaf in the history of bollywood such as Parineeta and Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. And in each of his songs is a newness that isnt often seen in bollywood. I can go as far as saying that he makes AR Rehman sound repetitive. His songs wont get on the popular charts as often as the cheapness that the likes of Himesh Reshammiya spit out.

Let me list some gems from Moitra to give you an idea
- Urzu Urzu Durkut (Yahaan)
- Man Yeh Baawra (Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi)
- Piya Bole (Parineeta)
- Kasto Mazza (Parineeta)

I hope to savor his music for years to come

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Prasoon Joshi - the real hero of Rang de basanti

Seldom do you hear goofy lyrics that are intelligent at the same time. Prasoon Joshi, the unlikely poet (his dayjob is ad films) of Rang de Basanti, has written lyrical gems in Paathshaala, Khoon Chala and Luka Chupi. They capture the sentiment of the film and the characters superbly and, in my opinion, are the mark of a well read and intelligent man.

"Talli hoke girne se samjhee humne gravity, Ishq ka practical kiya tab aayee clarity"

Loose translation: "A hard fall after getting drunk taught me about gravity, and a practical experiement with love gave me my much needed clarity"

Luka Chupi:

"Maine jharne se paani maa, todke piya hai
guccha guccha kaheen khwaabon ka ucchal ke chua hai"

Joshi has joined the league of stalwarts like Gulzar and Javed Akhtar by penning these meaningful and apt lyrics.

I heard his comments at the "Sa re ga ma Pa" show where he was a guest judge. Unlike most other bimbos that showed up and incessantly repeated "you sang well, God Bless you" a-la Paula Abdul, He had very intriguing thoughts about the performances and did not hold back criticism, which probably helped the participants get better.

Props to Mr Joshi.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

'Zinda' by Strings

I just discovered the song 'Zinda' (Alive) by the Pakistani rock band Strings. This song is on the soundtrack of the movie 'Zinda'. The movie itslef went up in smoke but this song and Shibani Kashyap's "Zinda hoon main" and its Delirious Dance Dub mix are brilliant.

The lines from Zinda that blew me away are

In hindi:
"Chubhte Kaante yaadon ke daaman se chunta hoon,
Girti Deewaron ke aanchal me Zinda hoon"

English translation :
"I pick hurting thorns from the blanket of my memories
I live in the protective cover of walls that are breaking down"

Strings gives these lyrics total justice with the grungy electric guitaring and deep vocals overlapped with soulful piano. I remember when they released their song "Sar kiye yeh pahaad" in the early 90's. It was pretty popular back then and is still one of my favoritie songs that came our of the pakistan rock scene. Of course the now defunct Junoon was much bigger than Strings but these guys are damn good too.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Karsh Kale's Broken English

The master of the genre has done it again. Only this time he has kicked so much more ass on this new album "broken english". It's unlike his previous albums and has many songs with lyrics completely in english. Many more collaborations appear on this album and this time the collaborations are with a variety of vocalists and producers and not just with other electronica artists. This album has generous doses of what i thought was the best stuff in Realise and Liberation. The magic of 'Milan' and 'Letting go' is seen in "Beautiful", "Innocence and Power" and "somethings are ok". "Dancing at sunset" showcases Kale's talent with other instruments like the electronic santoor (I didnt even know an electronic santoor existed). The highlights of the album though are "Free Fall" and "City lights" (where Kale lends vocals himself).

After a long time I own an album that i can pop into the player and not worry about running into a tune i dont like. It's brilliant from start to finsih and touches upon many styles with the unmistakable Karsh Kale signature.

I saw him perform on the electronic Tabla at 1015 folsom last week. It was a spirited performance and sent the crowd for a spin. He started his set on the decks with a further "bhangrafied" version of "Manifest" and continued it with "Free Fall" and was clearly the best set of the night that was lined up with big names such as Cheb i sabbah and Janaka Selekta among others.

A personal highlight for me was a chat with the maestro himself. It happened at 1015 folsom right before things got heated up. He signed my copy of Broken English making it ultra special for me. His modesty has stumped me before and impressed me once again.

Check this album out if you have liked his work previously. It will not disappoint I promise.