Episode 3 featured some big names in music like Bohemia, Hadiqa, Bilal Khan and Overload along with a new sensation Uzair Jaswal. It is interesting to note that he is the youngest artist ever to feature in Coke Studio. A student from Islamabad, Jaswal has been working with producer Sarmad Ghafoor who produced two albums for Atif Aslam and is a guitarist and producer for Qayaas. Uzair performed ‘Nindiya Ke Paar’ - a journey from a worldly love to spiritual love and back to worldly love in another light. The change of moods in the song is a reflection of this philosophy.
The audiences were enthralled by the first film song to be done in Coke Studio ‘Neray Aah’, presented by Overload - a percussion based fusion group from Lahore and Rachel Viccaji. ‘Neray Aah’ was originally featured in the soundtrack for the 1998 Punjabi film ‘Choorian’, directed by Syed Noor and sung by Saira Naseem. Overload released a cover version as a single in 2011. Coke Studio’s interpretation of this song used a popular dhol groove played with Zeppelin style drums to create the basis of the fusion. Farhad and Rachel performed aptly to render a theatrical undertone and lend to the mood of the song. No doubt bold songs like ‘Neray Ah’ added a unique flavour to the musical blend of season 5. Rachel captivated the set with her vast range and the high notes she hit in electrifying screams and unusual harmonies.
Bilal Khan, who returns to Coke Studio after a year of whirlwind success following his last performance in Season 4, presented ‘Taaray’ - a song for the young ones who have ambitions and feel they can achieve anything they set out for. Over the last year Khan has performed in a number of gigs across the country and around the world. He released his debut album, ‘Umeed’, in May 2011.
The audiences were also entertained by ‘Rung’ carried out by Hadiqa Kiyani. The performance stayed true to the original structure of qawali but had the house-band playing progressive music on top of it. This resulted in a unique track. Hadiqa aptly justified with ‘Rung’ and sung this kalaam by Amir Khusro in a manner different than her usual style.
It was also a delight to see international rap artist Bohemia performing ‘School Di Kitab’ in his typical style. Bohemia was inspired to write this song by his own personal experiences. Through this song Bohemia wanted to send a message out to kids encouraging them to finish school.
Episode 4 - sound of music
In Episode 4 we experienced some interesting fusion of music from Bohemia and Chakwal Group in the form of ‘Kandyaari Dhol Geet’ - a love song written by Aziz Lohar. ‘Kandyaari Dhol Geet’ was a fusion between contrasting tragedies of love; one referring to spiritual love, sung by the Chakwali’s in a joyful manner and the other relating to people who are lost in the material realm, performed by Bohemia.
Audiences thoroughly enjoyed ‘Tora Bahraam Khaana’ sung by Humayoon Khan. ‘Tora Bahraam Khaana’ is a famous Pashto folk song which was tied together with another folk song with a similar theme. The origins of the song are not known as it has been passed down from generation to generation and little research has been done to investigate the origins of the composition and the identity of the poets who wrote the tappas included in the song. Certainly, Humayoon Khan infused a new spirit in this Pashto folk song.
Then it was a pleasure for qawali lovers to listen to Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad who were singing Amir Khusro’s kalaam ‘Rung’ in their melodious voices. ‘Rung’ became an important part of many different Sufi orders such as the Qadris and Chishtis and became the usual finale of each gathering because of the spiritual effect it was said to have on people. This version of ‘Rung’ is considered to be the closest to the original rendition by Amir Khusro. It has been featured this season along with Hadiqa Kiyani’s version to show the similarity and contrast between two very different versions of the same qawali. One reason why traditional music continues to survive today is because of its evolution in time. By featuring two different versions of ‘Rung’ in one season, this point is highlighted and experimentation with traditional music is encouraged - provided the essence of the original is not sacrificed.
Jaswal also performed in Episode 4 and offered ‘Bolay’ - a light-hearted track that inspired Coke Studio to use a typical eastern folk-beat as its fusion rhythm base.
Then it was time for Atif Aslam to shine in Episode 4 with ‘Dholna’ - a track created upon cyclic rhythm layers, which evolve through shifting accents while the underlying rhythm remains unchanged. So far Atif has released three albums - ‘Jalpari’ in 2004, ‘Doorie’ in 2006, ‘Meri Kahani’ in 2008. He started his career as a playback singer in Bollywood with the song ‘Wo Lamhey’ in 2005. In 2009, Atif Aslam made his debut presence in Coke Studio and since then he has been featuring in Coke Studio regularly.
Photography: Kohi Marri