Verdict on Nescafé Basement: Promising but non-experimental

Published: November 5, 2013
Season two begins with classics Akhiyaan and Tere Ishq Mein. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK

Season two begins with classics Akhiyaan and Tere Ishq Mein. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK


Fresh music talent in Pakistan always finds it difficult to get attention. But the increasing number of platforms that feature ambitious musicians are rays of hope. With platforms as impressive as the first season of Uth Records or as ineffective as Cornetto Music Icons, all these shows epitomise one thing — the country is packed with young musicians who are keen on producing music despite impediments.

The first two offerings by Nescafé Basement season twoAkhiyaan and Tere Ishq Mein — are examples of bottled-up enthusiasm. But while the efforts of young musicians are commendable, unfortunately they aren’t enough. Produced under the supervision of multitalented musician Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan aka Xulfi, the numbers garnered attention on social media and were praised by music enthusiasts, but lacked finesse in terms of arrangement and composition.

Season two begins with classics Akhiyaan and Tere Ishq Mein. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK

While Nescafé Basement has been compared to Coke Studio by critics and fans on several occasions, the fact remains the show will always be a high-school version of the latter. However, credit must be given where it is due — Nescafé Basement is unique as far as the high-octane grooves and rawness of the final product are concerned. And this has been a fruitful result of featuring new and ambitious artists.

Featuring Shafqat Amanat Ali, one of the most impeccable vocalists of the subcontinent, along with Imran Momina aka Immu and Shallum Xavier, Akhiyaan changed the landscape of the music industry in the early 2000s. And this is exactly why Nescafé Basement’s version of this timeless track failed to impress. While Hamza Tanveer’s vocals are up to the mark, irrespective of his inexperience and the house band’s obvious attempt at pumping up the song further, unfortunately, the rendition ends up being repetitive in terms of its chorus and fusion of various instruments.

Fusing the sound of a traditional sitar with that of a trumpet in a rock song and playing around with the chorus are hackneyed tricks. We wonder how Xulfi plans to innovate with the show this season. If it’s challenging, then maybe the team should select simpler songs to cover.

Nescafé Basement’s second track, Tere Ishq Mein, is yet again another classic number — it was originally done by Mohammad Ali Shehki and the late Allan Fakir. Xulfi has featured two vocalists to execute this track — Asfer Hussain, who is classically trained and has a refreshing tone and Rizwan Butt, who has a folk touch to his voice. There is no doubt the two have done an incredible job by hitting all the required notes while not sacrificing diction and the true meaning of sufi poetry. The music is melodious and soothing, and the amalgamation with other sufi kalaam adds to the beauty of the track which preaches love and self-sacrifice.

Despite all these pros, the arrangement and overall sound of Nescafé Basement remains to be rather orthodox. The melodies are predictable — starting from a light, classical note then moving on to the drums with heavy bass suddenly being incorporated in the track. This trick has not only been overused in the early seasons of Coke Studio, but is also a common shortcut used by every other underground band and even by Bollywood musicians.

While Xulfi has managed to gather promising talent under one roof, it would work to his advantage if he inspires these ambitious musicians to create something new and creative, if not extraordinary.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Qamar
    Nov 5, 2013 - 7:16PM

    can the writer next tıme concentrate on gıvıng a revıew rather mentıonıng the trıcks, agaın and agaın, whıch yet agaın he faıls to mentıon ın detaıl?


  • 123
    Nov 5, 2013 - 7:55PM

    paki music is really boring.


  • Haroon Sheikh
    Nov 5, 2013 - 8:09PM

    Rafay who ? lol.


  • Sarah
    Nov 5, 2013 - 8:24PM

    Although the review really doesnt do justice to journalism i cant disagree with what she’s saying. Whats the point of getting new talent in, if theyre doing the same damn thing. really is a poor man’s version of Coke Studio. If they’re looking at new talent nescafe should take a leaf out of uth record’s manual on how to make good music


  • concerned Citizen
    Nov 5, 2013 - 8:37PM

    A few points to consider:

    It’s a saxophone, not a trumpet.
    Coke Studio did not revolutionize music; fusion has been around for a long while now, I would urge you to adjust your benchmark.
    Popular music has been the same since the Beatles; what do you define as new and exciting?

  • Ameer Aftab
    Nov 5, 2013 - 8:55PM

    @Author: Lame. Just a me-too post without any substance.

    @Tribune: Get your editorial guides out and read up what journalism is about. Just because you can form coherent sentences doesn’t give you the right to broadcast your baseless opinions on mass media.


  • Anti-Sarah
    Nov 5, 2013 - 9:07PM

    You seem to be able to predict the future!! You know everything!!! Just after watching an episode. You must be from the skies! Hoogaa.. hooga boogaa.. hooga shaaaka!


  • Notlikethis
    Nov 5, 2013 - 11:06PM

    I think its a little too early to make such judgements. The first episode of any show is supposed to be the most easy to digest one in order to ensure the necessary appeal for the launch.To write such a lengthy article disregarding the work of others based on such little content is quite unnecessary.


  • Asif
    Nov 6, 2013 - 8:54AM

    Couple of weeks ago another ET article was going over the moon praising Nescafe Basement and comparing it almost equal to Coke Studio!!


  • Mutee
    Nov 6, 2013 - 9:30AM

    It is quite experimental and very entertaining sir. I don’t understand this need to push your superior personal expectations from art to the general public. Thumbs down.


  • Acorn Guts
    Nov 26, 2013 - 12:33AM

    I like it .. so .. yeah


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