After taking the audience by storm with Sajjad Ali’s “Kir Kir” and the epic “Kangna” in episode 2, “Coke Studio” returns with a more experimental approach towards music. This episode features some really amazing talent in the form of Mole’s instrumental and yet another young female vocalist, Quratulain Baloch, who is definitely a great addition to Pakistani music.
The house band also enters the classical realm with Ustad Saami in the line-up, but Bilal Khan, who has done a much better job this time around deserves special appreciation. Sanam Marvi had something different to offer but Jal, and especially Goher Mumtaz, proved that they are simply not “Coke Studio” material. Episode 3 of season 4 turned out to be a little boring, but the young talent managed to maintain a fresh sound.
Mole is a new addition to “Coke Studio”. Amman Mushtaq, Abdullah Tariq Khan, Bilal Nasir Khan and Faizan Riedinger, along with the two founding members, Ziyad Habib and Danial Hyatt (Rohail’s son), are the members of this band. “Baageshri” is an experimental fusion track where the band has utilised modern tools of technology, alongside eastern and western instruments, to achieve a unique sound. As a whole, the band sounded great and with the support of the house band, they took their music to the next level. The band has a clear understanding of eastern and western music and by experimenting with modern music tools, the group managed to bring a refreshing sound to “Coke Studio”. 10/10
Sanam Marvi: ‘Ith Nahin’
Embracing the deeply spiritual poetry of Sachal Sarmast, Sanam projected the force of the powerful verses through her expression, diction and delivery, crafted in the manner of a soundscape, in us “Ith Nahin”. Despite her vocal brilliance, Marvi had started to sound monotonous in her earlier performance, but managed to bring a great deal of depth and variation with this one. Her song is definitely worth listening to; one should pay attention to the song’s lower notes and amazing vocal variations. Some great work on the bass guitar was accompanied by interesting improvisations in the end, and is definitely worth a listen. However it is doubtful that you will become addicted to “Ith Nahin”. Additionally, The house band should stop relying totally on her vocals and try to give her folk melodies a total rendition. 7/10
Bilal Khan: ‘Lamha’
The young musician who received mixed responses with his earlier performance of “Tau Kia Hua”, has improved a lot this time around. Kudos to the house band for actually revamping his melody and not just serving the purpose of an orchestra — like they did in the first episode. The ticking of the clock at the beginning of the song, sets the mood for “Lamha”, a sad song which becomes more upbeat as you enter the second track with a higher tempo. The dholak adds great deal to the song which is another good piece of song writing by the youngster. 8/10
Jal and Quratulain Baloch: ‘Panchi/Tere Ishq Mae’
In this episode, Jal sung their hit song “Panchi”, which had a lot of room for improvisation, but unfortunately Goher Mumtaz’s vocals did not do justice. Quratulain Baloch came in with her rendition of the Mohammad Ali Sheikhi and Allan Fakir’s mega hit “Tere Ishq Mae Jo Bhi Doob Gaya” and she was excellent. Had Baloch been given more time to sing and Farhan Saeed taken up the vocals, this performance had the potential of being one of the most memorable fusion acts of “Coke Studio”. Instead, Saeed was sitting on the side like a decoration piece and this was the first time that a fusion piece by Jal came across sounding naive. 7/10
Ustaad Naseeruddin Saami: ‘Mundari’
“Mundari” is a classical piece in the raag. Adana — a raag that is known to have the effect of holding a listener captive by its beauty and for the bittersweet emotion that it can invoke. “Coke Studio” combines eastern classical music with a western melody, but that didn’t make much of a difference for the audience as the song seemed to drag, despite the presence of a legend. Classical songs such as this, should either be totally revamped by the house band for younger listeners, or “Coke Studio” shouldn’t move into the classical realm which cannot be experimented with. 6/10
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2011.