Friday, January 16, 2009

Delhi-6: Music Review

Delhi-6 is a scintillating and refreshingly fresh album from ARR. It marks a great beginning for this year - hope the rest that will come out of his studio can at least be on par with it! ARR creates a great new soundscape palette in this album... at times it is very contemporary, often traditional yet dipping into various world genres. What really makes you notice this album is the sheer variety of its tracks. When was the last time you listened to an album with 10 songs and each seemed like it came from a different film? Probably only in an assorted mix album which you compiled yourself from various genres! Delhi-6 certainly sounds like the best of the crop and is a really funky, groovy, classical, folky, world-music-y album I have heard from ARR in a long long time. Here's my review:

1. Masakali: This song features in the promo. It is a really kicky and peppy song which starts off with vocals, percussions, an accordion, and an ultra cool bass line. The song just takes off so smoothly that you just get lost in it right from the beginning. Some of the orchestra/keyboard-chamber reminds one of the 70's composers (RDB etc.) Mohit Chauhan (silk route fame) is just perfect for this song, mixing required naughtiness with a casual ease. Full points should be given to ARR for giving a free rein to the singer; indeed ARR must have had a lot of faith in Mohit for him to perform with such ease. This song will catch your attentive ear even in the very first listening. Watch out for the really cool and unusual percussion instruments coming in at weird places at various points through out the song. Guitar additions are very interesting too! All in all a great promo song that is really well sung.

2. Genda Phool: This is my personal first-time-listening-favorite in this album. I mean, it usually takes multiple hearings of a newly released ARR album to form a conclusive opinion. No such osmosis required in this case. It starts of as a very folkish song, supported by coolly nasal female vocal chorus...and I am sure before the first minute is over you will be jumping in your cubicle. Rekha Bhardwaj who regularly sings for Vishal Bhardwaj is the leading vocalist in this song and boy! you feel like Vishal and ARR got together over samosa and chai at Panchatan and thought - "heck! why not mix our strengths and genres". The song is indeed a cocktail of peppy folk compositional styles of the two composers (probably the only two that stand apart from a crowd of fruity loopers).

3: Bhor Bhayee: When you look at the credits for the song, you would probably think it is a typo or a misprint, because it reads "Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Shreya Ghoshal in Gurjri Todi". But not to worry, it is absolutely correct. Shreya really does a great catchup job with Ustadji's recording. Although the landing/downward taans (if that is word I am looking for) don't even compare to the late Master's, it still is a commendable effort by Shreya. Most probably the heroine in the movie is an avid hindustani listener and a budding singer who tries to learn compositions from old recordings. In that spirit, it certainly is apt that shreya ghoshal renders this song. For kids of this gen who don't know the great Ustad, this could be a fabulous way of getting to know about him. Fantastic song and the mixing of the recording with the latest version is very smooth.

4: Hey Kaala Bandar: This song starts off like algerian folk/pop (cheb mami influence?) mixed with a Bulgarian women's choir kind of sound to quickly move into a oh-humdum-suniyore (saathiya) kind of groove. It is pretty peppy with rappy lyrics in between and somehow you also detect traces of punjabi folk and 90s boy band chorus in the interlude (and that algerian/bulgarian vocal sounds in between). The second stanza is totally like a punjabi pop song. All in all, a very groovy and upbeat song. Great song to run to. Some flaming lyrics in second half, when song changes mood and tone with 'saare reethi riwaaz hataakar....' particularly with lines 'jaankar bhi anjaan hain hum sab...paagal hai naadaan hai humsab, jaane kaunse rang mein range..hamaam mein hum saare nange'.pricking and funny."

5: Dil Gira Dafatan: This is the absolute top song of this album. No two ways about it. Fantabulous singing by Ash King - particularly the opening "dil mera" is breath-taking (literally). The style of singing in the opening lines is purely contemporary western. As the song progresses through the first stanza it reminds us of "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkel in its ambience blended with the trademark keyboard harmony of ARR. The background orchestra (keyboards etc.) leads up to the first interlude which is an amazing mix of Irish folk with an unusual flourish of chinese first violin. Irish and Chinese - it is like mixing premium blend Scotch with herbal tea, with a dash of german chocolate (the harmony); only in this case it tastes deliciously wonderful. The song is unusual in the atmosphere it creates and the elements it utilizes to create it; great lyrics by Prasoon Joshi given ample time to permeate the musical space - this allows the song to be rendered as if it is part movie song part poetry recital. Chinmayee sounds very sweet in the little pieces around the main tune.

6: Delhi-6: Oh yeah. Electronic-bitsy jamaican-rap-funk. The lyrics are interestingly suffused with the delhi-ish culture - words like mehfil etc., show the historicity - the gaali mein pyaar part is contemporary gulli talk - and the vocal renditions are undoubtedly modern capturing the mood of current youth. Appositely gleaned words from various facets of Delhi for the title track.

7: Noor: One word. Phenomenal! Bacchan Sr. thoroughly enjoys it while reciting, and we enjoy every single word as a result. "Ishq hey us se tho sab se ishq kar, is ibaadat ka yahi dastoor hey".

8: Aarti: Interesting blend of singers: Rekha Bhardwaj, Kishori Gowariker, Shraddha Pandit, Sujata Mazumdar. This is the Northern bhajan version of a style reminiscent of "Aparanji Madanude" from Merupu Kalalu. Bollywoodishly serene bhajan song with a dose of church choir sort of humming. Crisp, clean recording enhances the quality of our listening.

9: Rehna Tu: I love this song. A very ballad-like song with a beat reminiscent of modified Paul Mariat's serenade. I particularly enjoyed the guitars in the background of the song not to mention the waw effects that give the additional titillating kick. The interlude starts off in an Arabic style and then moves into vocals briefly in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy ishtyle (so much like Dil Chahta Hai's Kaisi hey yeh rut). If you were wondering why carnatic was left out till now in the album, rest your fears - it makes an appearance in a long ending piece in an instrument called the continuum. It is fascinating that this piece sounds like a carnatic raaga without actually being any one in particular that I can place. It is probably close to a begada-like raga (only in scale though, deriving from both Shankarabharanam and HariKambhoji; there are bits that sound like kafi, shankarabharanam, khamas, and a minor tonal-shift part that sounds like abheri near the end).

10: Arziyan: This is a carry-on and carry-over from Piya Haji Ali. Very formulaic ARR qawwali/sufi song, but very nice vocals by Jaaved Ali and Kailash kher. The tune for the lines "Jo Bhi tere dar aaya" and the lines "Daraarein Daraarein hai maathe` pe Maula" is reminiscent of melodies of yesteryears. The tunes used within the song carry the signatures of vintage era. Or probably it is because of the 'Yaman'-sque feel given to it.

This album is a smorgasbord of so many different styles of music, it is mouthwatering to just view the feast let alone savor it. Self-similar souls *wink* who were served generous portions of the album still cannot get over the songs after days of listening to it non-stop (I mean they wake up to these songs, listen to them in their car, at work, on the drive back home, and then also talk about it on the phone). Perhaps this is the ideal kind of buffet where you can eat all you want and neither feel too satiated easily nor be conscious of watching second-derivatives appear in the shape field. The final word - A perfect 10 for AR Rahman.


Shweta said...

:) A well done all encompassing review of the album. The album truly does justice and for the first time after a while songs are actually playing nonstop in my mind's player.

B said...

I need to listen to this album. I think sometimes as an IR fan, I tend to not pay much attention to ARR but he is a great composer in his own right. All the attention to detail that we are used to in IR songs is very much found in his music.

Aakarsh said...

Ofcourse it is a beautiful review, much like the album itself.long time, since a review was in tandem with the mood of the album.

and B,
You need to listen to ARR's music with a 'clean slate' state of mind, without looking for elements of IR music in ARR's music.This album works because it is eclectic and ofcourse different(differently good, infact) from the rest.

c said...

your review was quoted as a comment on my blog.

Aakarsh said...


Thats fine... Thanks for dropping by.

B said...

Hey...where is the review of Nandalala that you promised (on the Ygroup)?

Musically Me said...

Great review... good album

james said...

If I am not mistaken there is another music director involved in at least the "arziyan" song. If you look at any of the web sites; or or, the credit for the music score for this song goes to Rajat Dolakia.

Aakarsh said...

Rajat Dolakia is not for Arziyaan, but for the Aarti song.

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