Thursday, January 22, 2004

PAAP: the aural sin?

Since I caught the soundtrack off Raaga, I have no idea how accurate the credits on the CDs and tapes are. Given that Chor Malik was responsible for only 2 tracks out of 16 (mathematically, puTTan that makes him responsible for 12.5% of the album), I'd be really outraged to see him credited solely on the album (in fact, as it turns out, he is, which makes me one very outraged individual). In fact, after hearing Anuradha Paudwal do[sic] i.ntazaar, I can only think of the stake for him. Couldn't he find a better singer? And the melody sounds like his older stuff (not surprising, since Malik is the most auto-exploitative music director[sic] in the Hindi film music scene). AP's voice was a big boulder to surmount as I tried to appreciate the lyrics. Somehow, I thought there was the chance for a better tune. The opening and interludes (even that male tillaanaa/taraanaa) are a saving grace, but then AP baa_ii ends up sounding like all those SVCDs she was responsible for. The second Malik contribution sun ae mere dil opens with electro-Buddhist(?) chants (Asoka was it?). AP gets marginally better on this one. The melody has the same Malik-atavism as the first song. The unbearable Udit Narayan (get some diction lessons dude, and stop sounding constipated) joins in. As the track goes downhill from this point on (who's the male voice providing the redeeming alaap in the first interlude?), I admit that I decided to play around with the order and get done with the Malik songs first. Damnation: some trite melodies. The arrangements are the saving factor in either case, and Malik should consider this a good time (if he has any touch with reality) to blow himself up (presumably by listening to his greatest hits). And why is this song so damn long?

Now to the goodies. The rest of the album owes composer credit to Music Mushrooms (Shahzad Hassan of Vital Signs and his partner Faisal Rafi) -- at least the background pieces (12 in all) do. Interesting trend I must say: adding fragments of background music on mainstream film song releases (not that it hasn't been done before: it's just that a lot more mainstream song-hungry banners seem to be swinging towards this). NFAK's nephew Rahat FAK steps up to make man kii lagan listenable. The muKa.Daa has a very familiar melody, but RFAK makes sure the rest of the song has more to offer. While clearly not as emotionally involved and frenetic as NFAK, RFAK sounds a lot like him (albeit a younger version). Next up, Ali Azmat of Junoon steps up with their recognizable rock-backed sound on garaj baras. Somehow the rock drive doesn't work for the lyrics (the rocksy angst sharply offsets the romantic lyrics). It could work as a ballad, perhaps, but barely. The rock elements aren't strong enough, and there's very little in the orchestration to swing the song to another genre. And the melody isn't too surprising either. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Ali's voice got me thinking of Remo at several points in the song. Pity. Perhaps repeated listenings will help me on this. Laal is all about alaaps and a taraaana. Good vocal inflections from RFAK and daddy Farrukh FAK. This will probably be my pick on the album. The rhythm track finally asserts itself even more while the arrangements take care of the rise and fall. Those reverse guitar strums and chords were really cool. A strong lounge entry. The jhuule laal invocations got me thinking of the late NFAK: a good sign. This track is the epitome of the prevalent Sufi mood of the album (wonder if this sentiment will be reflected on screen -- Call me a Bhatt-hater, but I wouldn't bet on it). Great ending too.

Time for the instrumentals. Witness to a murder starts off sparse and moody before building up to a percussive crescendo (wanna workout anyone?) and meandering about in the moods of suspense, uncertainty, and a general feeling of suspension. This extract would have worked as Quake music. The monster sounds continue with Shiven gets shot. More Quake map fodder. Aaj kii raat kaT ga_ii to gets more ambitious on the synths. The i.ntezaar interlude is a little too brief, but apanaa saa kuchh denaa opens with an ivory motif that knocks of the opening fragment from Rota's Speak Softly Love before attempting similar-sized variations on the same. The synth vibe tones continue to drench the background, perpetuating the sense of Lynchian suspension. apanii chaahato.n pe kaabuu gets a regular beat (albeit the standard lounge/funk drive) and a female vocal alaaping with occasional sound slides from synth tones and a guitar, before the voice of Dr Mohan Agashe breaks into your ears. Great stuff for a preview. Next up, a plaintive cry drenched in now-familiar electronica hameshaa ke liye kuchh nahii.n. Long-drawn synth chords set to string tones open up tumhaarii jagah uu.Nche aasmaa.N: aurally it seems to work against (a) death (b) a montage of shocked reactions (c) an extended moment in time (d) a Spielberg movie (is that where this came from? a John Williams score?). tasaviir khii.nchaa to is an awesome bit of energetic percussion. Zi.ndaa pal continues the Hollywood vibe: opening with a strong lower-register drone with piano and flute overlays, it gradually picks up a throbbing beat underscoring a sequence played out on synth strings, before a repeated ivory riff against a lighter percussion arrangement. This soon morphs into a mix of the two fragments. Another strong candidate for the favourites list. Kis kis ko maaroge is another brooding Quake piece with an opening that reminded me, just for an instant, of stuff on Black Angels. And it's also the longest of the instrumentals. A satisfying end.

All in all, barring the mundane Malik creations, this is a good soundtrack album. What remains to be seen now is how much the movie will suck (an unfair view, I agree, but this is Bhatt territory: quality would be a complete surprise).

There, JR, you got what you asked for:)

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