Coke Studio releases its Fifth and final episode of Season 6 featuring “Miyan Ki Malhaar” by Ayesha Omar, Fariha Pervez, Zara Madani and Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, “Allah Hu” by Saieen Zahoor featuring Abrar-ul-Haq, “Moray Naina” by Zara Madani and “Sawaal – Kande Utte” by Ali Azmat and Muazzam Ali Khan.
Bringing nature’s intricacies to the mix this season is the story of ‘Miyan Ki Malhaar’. A raag that is based on the rainy season, in this presentation of the raag, the song sees the flow of the oncoming rain first heard from afar, flowing into the drizzle and finally into the crash of lightning and thunder in its full downpour. Ayesha Omar opens the song reminiscing about the beauty of the raag that is known to actually cause rain in classical tradition. The underlying tone of the verses’ cyclic chants is one of imminent release – an almost looming feel that is felt in the instrumentation by the band in Serbia and distinctly felt in the groove of the bass line. The song’s flow further transitions into the calm before the storm – vocally portrayed by Fariha Pervez’s rendition of the raag and musically flowing into an ambient space of lingering frequencies accentuated by percussive elements by Turkey’s Burhan Hasdemir and Nepal’s Siddharta Maharjan. As the song reaches its brim, the downpour follows in all its glory as the vocals fall to Zara Madani bringing the clap and thunder of the storm in the song’s free fall into rock as seen through the guitar accents by Asad Ahmed and Faraz Anwar. Rustam Fateh Ali Khan – an avid believer in the raag’s connection with nature – completes the story’s composition in downpour in his sargam. The overall composition is the result of various faces of the same raag that fall into place to tell the story of the life of rain through the life of a raag.
A song that retains the purity of those sung in Sufi Folklore, ‘Allah Hu’ belongs to the world of the Fakir. With a basic rhythm, the song is presented in the vocals of Sufi-devout Saieen Zahoor as an ode to the likes of Shah Latif Bhitai with the message of love and spiritual devotion through music. The Sufi composition is met with Abrar-ul-Haq’s references to folklore’s Heer – finding itself within the song’s setting of finding true love in the face of worldly manifestations. The instrumentation blends the Mazaar feel of the rhythm’s simplicity with a western sweet vibe found in country music and western folk. Musically, while the tone suggests a feel-good, easy listening experience, the essence feels the weight of its substance. In keeping with the mix of old and new, the instrumentation is varied – from the Ek Tara and Dumboora to the simple keys of the piano. The overall composition reminds of old songs as sung in the everyday practices within the world, yet holding true to the values of true liberation through spiritual submission amongst the blur of daily ritual.
‘Moray Naina’, formerly known as ‘Passion’ is a song that blends the age-old language of Braj with contemporary, trippy percussive elements. The melody was composed by Zara Madani and was produced by Rohail Hyatt for an album that was in the works some 6 years ago. A song that combines the meditative and pulsing qualities of spiritual intricacies set in the East contrasted with the elements of Moroccan and African beats. Thematically, the song deals with the mania that ensues in the process of total submersion into the ocean of love. The tone is one of joy, yet in complete mystery of the state – hence the contrast found in passionate love. On this path of love, all caution is thrown to the wind as devotion is reserved for what is concealed, hence the state of what the world labels ‘insane.’ The song’s flow oscillates, as does the theme, that while the free fall into love has caused a complete change of perspective to the world, the inner peace accompanied with
the mania becomes the constant, driving force to dwell in the state. Within the song, Rome brings to us L’Orchestra di PiazzaVittorio’s trance like flavor, which is accompanied by a merge with our very own House Band. Alongside this, the bittersweet subtlety of love as expressed in the song is encapsulated in the performance by the string orchestra from Serbia. Alongside the percussive instrumentation from L’Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, the song also presents varied shades of percussion with Dhol and Dholak from Pakistan and the Tar from Morocco. The overall experience becomes one of intense expression.
Throwing the mind into the ultimate universal spiral of existence is Ali Azmat’s ‘Sawaal.’ According to Ali, a substantial amount of the thought process behind his album Klashinfolk went into ‘Sawaal’ as it is a representation of the different stages of life and the corresponding psychological and spiritual tangents that shoot into the eternal abyss of questions. The feel is that of human anguish as the vocals wail asking about the transient state of mankind. In asking the questions, there are more questions as mankind looks on into the world. It is within this state that the song is met with ‘Kande Utte’ in the vocals of Muazzam Ali Khan accompanied by his Qawwal Group. The Qawwali here reflects on the edge of human struggle. The verses refer to folklore in the tale of Sohni-Mahiwal, which thematically yearns for the union with the source of true love. A composition based on Sufi tradition, the state is one of extreme longing at the point of reaching one’s limits, and therefore the most desperate of spaces. However in the Qawwali, the answers are found within the soul. Therefore the transition between Sawaal and Kande Utte is through a doorway inward, wherein the soul’s anguish resides due to the eternal wait to be reunited with truth. The verses speak to each other, being two sides of the same coin, wherein the conviction remains that while the spirit is in a state of constant turmoil, so will the world reflect this inner chaos. The only real peace manifested in the physical world is mirrored by the peace that is found within upon connecting with the source. And therein lies the answers to the questions. Musically, the song was able to connect due to similar scales, and with the thematic connect, the organic union of the songs goes to show just how things fall into place in harmony. The essence of the piece finds its freedom in knowing that nothing is in one’s control – an expression in the universal story of mortal human life.
The final Episode of Coke Studio’s Sixth chapter in its journey was aired on all major television channels, radio stations and available online across Pakistan. The airing schedule can be viewed at: http://www.cokestudio.com.pk/season6/schedule.html. To view all past episodes and to download songs from Coke Studio’s complete sixth season, please log on to http://www.cokestudio.com.pk.