A good music album is a blessing.
When we discovered the Israeli Qawwal Shyz Ben Tzur’s designs on Indian music scene sometime back, we couldn’t wait for more. However, we had to wait till 14 Nov 2015 for his new album.
Any fusion attempt involving Rajasthan runs the risk of ‘kesariya-oing/mharo dholna-oing‘ the sound and playing it safe. This album doesn’t fall in that trap. What you will come across is an innovative brass married to part funk and part pop sound, sprinkled with superlative lyrics. Take for example Junun, the song. The groove is familiar yet the entry of brass band is almost shocking. The singing in this song is slightly predictable. Yet, chances are you won’t be able to remind yourself of a similar song in a long time, watch out for the faint harmonium/organ on the left channel throughout the song! The brass version of the song is just a smart example of how you can mold the sound of any song with local flavor and ‘there are birds in the eho chamber’ was recorded when the brass version of Junun was being recorded with birds chirping. Great touch, that!
Roked, is a dance beat prayer to God almighty which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet it presents an alternative way to ascend in God. When Hu starts, you would be excused to think that a song of Kabir is about to start. However, what you get is an insightful offering about life in Hebrew. If language isn’t a barrier for you in relishing good music, you might even find yourself swaying like a dervish. The entire band is in top form in this song, yet – not a single loud note. Isn’t it fascinating to actually come across the varied sounds of far off lands and to see how they pay a tribute to the infinite, the creator? Hu is a drug. Simple!
In Chala vahi des, you will be amazed at the percussion with the ever so beautiful manjira and harmonium mesmerizing you. Razia Sultan & Afshana Khan are a delight, and my favorite part remains the effortless bringing in of ‘meera ke prabhu girdhar nagar‘. I cried when I heard this portion for the first time. This is why the creator has given us all humans faculties to hear. The infectious composition is impossible to unlike. Similarly in Kalandar, you would have made peace by the 5th minute of the composition, it’s a beautiful instrumental piece that requires nothing else. Wait for those simple 4 lines which will take your breath away before the flute reminds you to keep dancing, because after all you are a kalandar. Aren’t you?
A repetitive chanting like Eloha might weigh on the senses due to its psychedelic presentation with nearly silent musical arrangement. Julus (जुलूस) stays true to its title. This piece is all brass and the tune would remind you of your favorite roadside dance moment with the brass bands which are popular with marriage/Happy procession parties. Allah Elohim is a message of piece and reminds us that Hindu-Muslim look best when they stay peaceful and love each other. With excellent guitars in the background and splendid brass Razia and Shye Ben Tzur would surely make you sway. Ahuvi is a song of longing and the Sarangi by Asin Khan and Khamaicha by Dara Khan would make you forget that most of the song is in Hebrew, and then the last 1:20 mins of the song will pierce your heart. Hear it to know what I mean. Azov has a simple message of ‘let go’, and this flute dominated piece ends fairly quickly.
The element of finality in Mode, which is ‘thanks’ to the creator for giving us everything is infectious, thanks to the neat gayaki and yet again, the language won’t matter here.
I have to thank my mother for introducing me to ‘Chala vaahi des’ – the Lata Mangeshkar album, when I was in class 6th, which had the sounds of birds and animals in the background in most of the songs. No wonder this album uses real bird and their chirps to create a similar sense of calm that just adds to the beauty of the end product.
Barring few sparks of brilliance, the current music scene leaves a lot to be desired, and that is insulting to a country as culturally rich and varied as ours. With this album, we come across yet another good attempt at fusing languages with familiar music arrangement and treatment so sensitive, it would melt your heart.
This is an album which is produced with a lot of heart work and hard work and it dazzles! Thank you The Rajasthan Express, Shye Ben Tzur and Jonny Greenwood!
Good music is a blessing, it is the reason to live. If you don’t trust me, consult this album 🙂
(P.S. – There is a delightfully decorated digital booklet along with the music @iTunes which is beautiful and has translation for all the songs. Grab it!)