Coke Studio at MTV Season 2 Episode 8 – Review

Dum Dum – The track starts off on a dull note, riding solely on Shilpa Rao’s singing, but gets better as it goes with the techno infusions from Jalebee Cartel. Particularly loved the electronica jugalbandi of sorts with the sarangi, Dilshad Khan fabulous as usual on the instrument. Not sure if Shilpa had any part in the composition of I Believe in Dewarists, if not, neat debut this from the singer.

Tokari has Papon recreating an Assamese folk song. While it is a given that Assamese folk seldom fails, what is lovely here is the way Papon builds on the tune while keeping the folk base intact, especially kudos-worthy being the use of strings. Even the tempo change in the middle is neatly handled. And add to that some impeccable singing by Papon and Sugandha Garg (a surprise entry really, never knew she could sing so well!), we have a winner! Only issue – I could not hear the sound of the khol anywhere.

Haq Maula – Sufi singer Dhruv Sangari and The Humble Mystic’s fusion cover of the traditional sufi song. This was my first time listen of Dhruv Sangari, and I must say he is one fabulous singer. And here he does an utmostly sincere rendition (that sargam in the middle is a must-listen). Unfortunately the sincerity in his singing doesn’t quite translate to the arrangement; the fusion doesn’t really seem to go well with the feel of the song despite a promising set of instruments and instrumentalists.

Challa With a total of just four artists, this song featured the most minimal lineup on the show. But with that minimalist setup Hari and Sukhmani manage a work more impactful than the other, more elaborately orchestrated, Punjabi cover of the episode. The combo is just perfect – the haunting effect lent by the ambient techno sounds, the israj by Arshad Khan, the Arabic percussion by Fakhroddin Ghaffari. The singing by Sukhmani is the only thing that doesn’t quite match up, but lady has a voice like nothing I have heard before!

Malhar Jam – When I think of the band Agam the song that comes to mind is Lakshiya Paadhai. The first song I heard of the band, and to date my fav song from them. The band’s music in recent times has in fact failed to impress me as much as their initial works did. But in Malhar Jam the band gets its act together again, and along with co-composer Krishna Janakiraman produces a song that is trademark Agam. Harish Sivaramakrishnan’s flawlessly nuanced rendition of the predominantly Miyan Ki Malhar-based tarana is backed by some wonderful elements in the arrangement, particularly Annada Prasanna Patnaik’s flute. Wait for the instrumental overdrive in the last one minute.

Fabulous end to the “new and improved” Coke Studio at MTV! And here is looking forward to an even more awesome Season 3 of the show, that takes care of the few shortcomings of this season as well.

Top Recos: Tokari, Malhar Jam, Challa

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