The second-last episode of “Coke Studio 4” took its viewers through a musical excursion across Pakistani culture. The latest session featured songs in six different languages including Bhraj, Sindhi, Balochi, Brahvi, Siraiki and Punjabi, other than Urdu. Displaying the cultural significance of music to different ethnicities of the country, the episode was definitely the most musically-rich one of this season, with house band dominating the studio in all songs.
Sajjad Ali and Sanam Marvi: “Rung Laaga”
“Rung Laaga”, an original soundtrack by maestro Sajjad Ali, was restructured for this performance in a collaborative effort by Ali and Sanam Marvi. The song, which was sung in Braj and Punjabi, centres on the symbolic significance of colour in different cultural contexts. The new composition of “Rung Laaga”, which was a very difficult job, was an excellent effort by the house band as they introduced their own classic rock sound to it. The song got trippier towards the end, due to backing vocalists, which made it one of the finest departures in the history of “Coke Studio”. (10/10)
The Sketches: “Mandh Waai”
Although The Sketches have been around for quite some time, this was essentially their first proper introduction to music listeners worldwide. Under the guidance of the house band, The Sketches proved to be the melodious mascots of Sindhi folk and Sufi poetry as they took one on a musical voyage. The band comprises Saif Samejo and Naeem Shah as the lead vocalist and guitarist respectively. With Samejo’s soothing vocals and the brilliant songwriting by the band, The Sketches are a noteworthy introduction to the mainstream music scene. (9/10)
Akhtar Chanal Zahri: “Nar Bait”
After stunning everyone with his outstanding performance of “Danah Pa Danah” in the first episode, Akhtar Chanaal Zahri returned with vibrant rhythms of Balochistan in the form of “Nar Bait” — a traditional Balochi and Brahvi folk song. The song’s ancient native style of music employed vocal accents in conjunction with percussive elements to enhance the rhythmic pattern of the groove. “Nar Bait” featured catchy rhythms, eventually taking a very funky turn and entering into a pop-rock realm. House band played a crucial role to enhance the sound of Brahvi tune, turning it into a super hit number and making the centuries-old traditional music a part of Pakistani pop culture. (10/10)
Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi: “Pyaar Naal”
Whatever is said or written about the living legend Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, is insufficient as his contribution to Pakistani music in general and now in “Coke Studio” is incomparable. What else would one like to hear than a heart touching romantic song in Esakhelvi’s engaging voice? And when it combines with contemporary music under the supervision of Rohail Hyatt, the end product is bound to be truly magical. With Esakhelvi’s “Pyaar Naal”, “Coke Studio” epitomised the beauty of Siraiki language by perfectly arranging the soft and catchy melody. The house band set the right mood by enhancing the song with instruments like the accordion (played by Jaffer Zaidi) and the mandolin (played by guest musician Amir Azhar). The overall feel of the song seemed to have put Esakhelvi at ease as he delivered to his fullest without putting much effort on the harmonium and tabla. (10/10)
Komal Rizvi: “Lambi Judai”
Like it or hate it, Komal Rizvi did steal the show this time around by covering legendary Reshma’s cult hit, “Lambi Judaai”. Compared to this episode’s other songs, the singer received the highest number of likes on the Facebook page of “Coke Studio”. With over 14,000 YouTube hits within a single day, these numbers speak volumes about her stellar performance. There will always be comparisons made between the original version by Reshma and this one. Komal actually did a splendid job. Her high-pitched vocals breathed life into the song. What added more flavour to the performance was the music by house band’s keyboard player Jaffer Zaidi. (7/10)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.