Indian Ocean/ Akhiyan Udeek Diyan, Times Music
Popular Delhi fusion-rock band Indian Ocean now releases its own take on Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s qawwali ‘Akhiyan Udeek Diyan’. Though some listeners may try and compare the two, the only thing common is the main hook line. The styles of the two versions are vastly different.
Indian Ocean’s arrangement is more in the progressive rock style, and a wonderful guitar solo by Nikhil Rao is an absolute treat. Three people share the vocals, with Himanshu Joshi singing the prominent lines. Somehow, the expected power is missing here.
Rahul Ram’s bass, Amit Kilam’s drums and Tuheen Chakraborty’s tabla are spot-on. If one thinks of this version independently of the Nusrat song, it comes out as refreshing.
Rating: 8/ 10
SamRaag/ Aadiyogi, Self-released
A fusion ensemble of talented musicians, SamRaag has just released its debut single ‘Aadiyogi’. Blending A.B. Madhav’s melodic Shiva chants and vocals with Siddhesh Borkar’s sizzling lead guitar, this turns out to be a wonderful piece of spiritual rock.
The coordination between the guitar and Shashank Acharya’s flute gives the opening a Jethro Tull flavour. Soon, the Indo-fusion and progressive rock elements come in beautifully, with Alpesh Moharir’s tabla and bols, Sanchit Mhatre’s drums and Hemant Khawalia’s keyboards melding well. A commendable effort, this one grows on you.
Rating; 9/ 10
Raja Kumari/ N.R.I., Mass Appeal India
Raja Kumari, a California-based rapper of Indian origin, aptly calls her latest single ‘N.R.I.’ The song is a blatant description of the duality faced by non-resident Indians, the feeling of being neither here nor there.
Many people will be able to relate to lines like “Culture vulture, dot head eating samosas” and “Do you even know who you are?” The video, directed by Shawn Thomas Visuals, shows Raja Kumari changing between Indian and western attire, with shots of the Indian map and the ‘Trishul’ on her forearm.
The song delivers a strong message, and has a catchy hook, with composition credits to Rob Knox.
Rating: 8/ 10
Radhika Sood Nayak/ Asan, Self-released
Last year, singer Radhika Sood Nayak released her version of Sufi poet Baba Bulleh Shah’s ‘Ishq Kamaal’. Now, she attempts the other great writer Hazrat Shah Hussain on ‘Asan’.
A wonderful melody line, intense vocals, and Hitesh Dhutia’s soft guitars contribute to making this a really listenable song. Nayak’s enunciation of the word ‘faqeer’ at the end touches a chord, and the Punjabi lyric translations are available on the YouTube page.
Aaleyah Asghar’s video is shot outdoors. The song aims to raise funds for COVID-19 patients through Goonj.
Rating: 9/ 10
Various Artistes/ Dharti Maa, Earth Day Network
Released to mark Earth Day on April 22, ‘Dharti Maa’ uses many singers presenting short parts in eight languages. Thus, we have Shankar Mahadevan and Bombay Jayashri singing in Hindi, Abhishek Raghuram in Tamil, M.D. Pallavi in Kannada, Shweta Mohan in Malayalam, Mahesh Kale in Marathi, Abhay Jodhpurkar in Gujarati, Kaushiki Chakraborty in Bengali and Hans Raj Hans in Punjabi.
Composed, arranged, and produced by Amrit Ramnath, the song uses semi-classical and folk styles to highlight this year’s theme of climate action. The movements flow smoothly and bring about unity in diversity.
Rating: 8/ 10
Jhallih/ I Want To Be Free, Self-Released
Mumbai-based Aaliyah Qureishi uses the name Jhallih, slang for a young woman who refuses to stick to norms. Her song ‘I Want To Be Free’ has a self-explanatory title, and it’s all about rebellion, tackling one’s inner demons, and “the struggles of my age”.
The English indie-rock song uses vibrant guitars and a supple bassline. Jhallih has a strong voice, and the portion where she sings “Take me back” is powerful. The whole thing fits well.