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The Asian Women's Blog Carnival, edited by [livejournal.com profile] ciderpress, is up.

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A few music reviews & mp3s:

A while back I listened to the soundtrack of Delhi-6, AR Rahman's latest project. It's better than the work he did in Slumdog Millionaire, but I don't think that's saying much. There are a couple of songs that I like, but there's nothing that blows my mind, and somehow after all this time of churning out soundtracks that are good rather than great, I still expect that of him, the absolute brilliance of another Dil Se or Roja. He's the one that singlehandedly got me interested in Bollywood pop, but now I wonder if gaining so much mainstream recognition has permanently hampered his ability to produce something that amazing again. And, even with the songs I liked in this soundtrack, such as Masakali - what I found great were the lyrics and the way they were sung, which had little to do with him and everything to do with Prasoon Joshi and Mohit Chauhan, while the production, which was all his, reminded me a lot of Uye Udi Udi Udi from Saathiya, which he had released years ago (and which I like more!), and all this time he couldn't come up with a new sound? I get the impression that he's got a stock of five or six formulas that he uses again and again, with a little tweaking here and there, and sometimes it's the tweaks I find jarring and questionable because they don't seem well thought out. Also, this album seems to be getting rave reviews everywhere, which just makes me dislike it all the more.

That said, I did adore Rehna Tu. It flowed so smoothly, seemed at once serious and whimsical and bemused. Also, I cannot believe that's AR Rahman singing, and I would not mind BW love songs so much if they all had lyrics such as this.


And now, the song that I'm currently head-over-heels in love with: Maan Bawra, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, produced by Afsar-Sajid, written by Shahab Allahabadi, from the movie Aasma. It was the only song I liked in that movie soundtrack, but I liked it to a scary, scary degree. It has a somewhat conventional arrangement, though one that proves that conventional arrangements can be the best! Because the melody is beautiful, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is always amazing, and the lyrics make me go so starry-eyed. I would love BW love songs if they all had lyrics such as this. The first couple of verses translated (I think. my Urdu is not the best ^^;;):

my restless heart searches for you
the scales of gaining and losing
all my life's wishes
this sky this place
it all seems still

the innocent heart was lost
sometime it stopped beating
a madman sitting having lost his senses
life is crying
talking to myself and laughing
in a crowd, feeling alone
the beating of the waves sounding between my breaths

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I just caught up on all twenty scanlated volumes of Nana and I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED HAPPENED. ANY OF THEM BUT ESPECIALLY ONE. I want to review this because it's one of those manga that gets more and more compelling as it goes on, which shouldn't be possible after a while, but I am still dumbfounded and gaping and all that is coming out is incoherent caps.

(Also, Yazawa Ai has done a series with Courtney Love?? HOW SCARY.)

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Main Apne Rab Ka Banda

From the movie Hello, lyrics penned by Jalees Sherwani, who I am fangirling like mad right now, sung by Sonu Nigam and others. One of the reviews I read called this song an item number, and I was like, whatever, you're an item number but considering that the average Bollywood lyrics are variations of you're my whole world, you're my entire life, I would like to stare at your eyes for all eternity because I am just that boring, I don't think it would be premature to call it one of the best songs of the year. I also thought the production worked overall, though it was a bit much at times; I would've scaled back, removed some flourishes. But it did have a good beat, and Sonu Nigam's voice is always nice, and I loved the chorus at 1:13, when they sung मैं अपने रब का बंदा हूँ बंदा अपने रब का बंदा हूँ, the way it was so low and resonant and almost menacing.

lyrics )

lyrics translated (they're better in hindi though) )

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Latika's Theme

From Slumdog Millionaire (Latika seems to get more of a voice in the soundtrack than she ever gets in the movie). Sung, or rather hummed, by Suzanne, produced by AR Rahman. Quite ethereal and lovely.

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Why

I was feeling nostalgic, so I put this song on my playlist. I could never get into the other songs by Stabbing Westward, but this one - it spoke to my teenage soul, and I drove my roommate crazy with how much I used to listen to it. XD And I still love it, how it starts off eerie and discordant and then the chords and the beat resolve themselves, how low and quiet Christopher Hall's voice is until it picks up power at I need someone/ to break the silence/ screaming in my head, and then everything turns and fades when he says in my soul. Just a great song - lyrics and production and everything.

lyrics )

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Ishmeet - Masha Allah (youtube vid, and after the song he starts crying over his pre-recorded piece on his mother and then his mother comes out and he smiles and says "that's the biggest surprise I can ever get" still crying and *heartbreaks*)
Ishmeet - Kal Ho Na Ho (youtube vid)
Ishmeet - Chal Pyar Karegi (youtube vid)
Ishmeet - Dithe Sabhe Thanv (mediafire mp3)

The singer, Ishmeet Singh, won one of the Indian versions of American Idol (though it really should be the other way around, because in India shows like that have been going on for a really long time), and released an album, and went to Maldives for a performance, where he was found drowned in his hotel pool. The police still don't know who killed him, though one of my friends is convinced that the mafia was behind it because evidently they control everything in the industry?

He was still a teenager, a boy with a beautiful voice, and he died alone and so far from home. The last song is a devotional song from Sat Sri Ankal, a movie about a religious figure, something like that, and was released a few months after he'd died, with him singing lines such as I've been to all the places/ and in none did I see you/ none were yours.

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Just watched the Pakistani (I cannot say Lollywood seriously) movie Khuda Ke Liye, which deals with both religious extremism and racial profiling. I didn't like it as much as I was expecting to. There were parts where the acting was awful (pretty much all the England scenes), some of the casting was questionable, and the script could've been tightened considerably. Also, I didn't like the scenes where Mansoor was detained in an American prison, because they felt exaggerated and unrealistic. What's happening is already so awful, the way the US is imprisoning and torturing individuals it decides are terrorists. There is no need to present it as even worse - doing so belittles the gravity of the situation, makes reality seem okay.

That said, I really liked a couple of the songs on the soundtrack.

Mahi Vay
The spoken words BUG ME. The only time they ever work for me is in hip-hop or R&B. In songs like this they're distracting; if I wanted to listen to poetry I would read it (and the lyrics would be a lot more meaningful than these). That said, I love the production, and the last minute and half of the song got to me in a way I can't even explain. One of those things that makes my skin tighten and toes curl; I've listened to this song over & over again and I still don't know why.

Allah Hoo
The beginning reminds me of the Muslim call for prayer, and the singer's voice is resonant and gorgeous. I also like the way its produced, the beats that kick in after the first minute, how trance-like the production becomes.

This is one of my favorite songs ever, from a movie that was released a few years ago whose name I can't remember:

Kailash Kher - Allah Ke Bande

Minimal production, just the singer and a guitar. The singer's voice is so raw, and the lyrics are amazing. The imagery slays me. An angel whose wings have been torn and broken, laughing while he falls. It should be depressing, but the melody, Kailash Kher's voice - it soars, even when he's singing girta hua woh asmaan se/aakar gira zameen par (falling from the sky/falling to the ground), and near the end it sounds more like a celebration than anything else.

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One of the things that makes Bollywood movies great, for me, is that they almost always have several music-and-dance numbers in them. I was making a list of some of my favorites for a friend, and figured that some of you might be interested too. So here they are, with a few explanations of the setting/movie. These aren't all my favorites - a lot of them I couldn't find on youtube - but I was too lazy to upload myself, so they'll have to do.

cutting the first few for length )

Saving the best for last. These songs are from Omkara, a movie that I adore and would recommend to anyone. I don't particularly care for the leads because I don't find either attractive, but they can both act, and the story is well-paced and the dialogue amazing and each individual shot seems like an artistic masterpiece. Also, the songs are just awesome.

Omkara

Not a music video as much as a scene from the movie with the music playing in the background. Including this mainly because I love the way the brawl goes, and how at the end Omkara calmly walks up to the guy pointing the gun at him and gently takes it away, saying "you put bets on horses, not tigers". Would utterly adore this character if he was at all cute (and not about to turn utterly crazy).

Naina

What's happening during this song: a girl nurses Omkara and falls in love with him. She's engaged to be married to someone else, though, so she drops her ring into Omkara's drink and sends him a note, saying that if he doesn't marry her she'll commit suicide. (And she's the most sane person in this movie.)

Laakad

A short song, less than two minutes. Including it because I liked the way it was shot.

Namak

An item number, which is basically a song where a girl (who usually doesn't appear again in the movie) dresses & dances provocatively. The girl in question is one of my favorite dancers, Bipasha Basu, and she's amazing in both this and Beedi.

O Saathi Re

The heroine is pissed (I can't remember why. Perhaps Omkara left the toilet seat up) and Omkara, being the brave and fearless fighter that he is, runs from her like a scared chicken. And then they have sex.

Beedi

This film has two item numbers, going off the philosophy, one assumes, that you can never have too much of a good thing. (Like I said before, we Indians are geniuses.) This song's probably my favorite of the lot - everyone's drunk and dancing against each other and Bipasha and the male lead dancer are the sexiest things ever. It is the most gloriously raunchy thing. If you watch one video from this post, watch this!
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Just finished listening to the Jodhaa Akbar soundtrack by AR Rahman, which was such a letdown. I was expecting it to be brilliant, especially after reviews like this, but it turned out to be one of the most boring and derivative things I've ever heard, and I'm left scratching my head wondering if those people are living in the same world that I am, to write such glowing reviews. I've been a fan of AR Rahman in the past, even pimped him on this journal, but honestly, the best work he did was eight years ago - Roja and Dil Se and Taal, which were some of the most innovative soundtracks and changed the course of the industry - and I feel like ever since, with a few exceptions, he's been either flatlining or going downhill (though because he was so brilliant it's taking him longer to hit bottom than most). And now I'm almost disgusted by this, how ordinary the soundtrack was, how much it recycled themes he's used a thousand times already, how people are praising him.

I wish that they'd given this soundtrack to Shantanu Moitra, who did such awesome awesome work in Eklavya (does this song not give you the goosebumps? IF IT DOESN'T DON'T TELL ME), who always comes up with something innovative and good, or even Mithoon, because even though his recent soundtracks have left me less than impressed, they were for modern and not period films. He's only ever done a period film once, when he created two songs for Anwar, and they were two of the most brilliantly produced songs I've ever heard.

I really hate it when someone I used to consider brilliant falls like this. There are few enough people I admire in the world already. :/ (And after listening to the Akhbar soundtrack I had to listen to Eklavya & Anwar again, just to reassure myself that there was still a reason to live. I might or might not be taking this too personally.)

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I've been meaning to make a music post for some time, but somehow never seemed to get around to it. But I was at a party recently and loved some of the stuff that was playing, and I had to share a few of the tracks, because they're amazing.

Mika - Nach Le Soniye (Remix)
From a Sanjay Gupta movie. The production isn't terribly new, but effective nonetheless. Also, ahaha, it's one of those songs that makes me feel too cool to smile. :b

Rehka Bardwaj - Phoonk De (Club Mix)
I really like the production of this song, and the girl's voice is almost unbelievably perfect. There's this tense atmosphere, a layering of tracks that are raw & heavy on tracks that are ethereal. It's somewhat like a skittering on your nerves.

SEL - Move Your Body
The most danceable and unexpected of the three. It's so fun - I love it beyond words.


Also, songs that I've been meaning to pimp -

Tulsi Kumar - Akele Tanha
Laid back and mellow, with this almost teasing melody.

Shaan - Bheega Aasman
More dramatic than the previous track, though also a bit more derivative, but imo it still has enough variation in the production to keep it interesting. For some reason I really like this song, especially when Shaan sings "han mohobhaat main dil/ gane laaga...".

Karsh Kale - Saajana
I love how seamlessly this shifts from a traditional beat & production to a club/techno one, the synth-popish track that's added in the middle, and how the repetition of the lyrics and the singer's voice tie it all together. My favorite part is about two minutes in, when it starts shifting - no matter how much I listen to this song that part still makes me catch my breath.

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watna ve

This song is from the movie Pinjar, which was released a few years ago. There's nothing new in the arrangement, or the instruments used, or the production, or the song structure itself; they've been making songs like this in Bollywood for decades. But it's rare that I hear one so beautifully and skillfully done, with such amazing lyrics and melodies and singing, and it makes me think that the reason they've been making songs like this for so long is because when done properly, they can be utterly heartbreaking.

The singer's voice is low and smooth, soft and resonant, and the lyrics are beautiful in a very simple and poetic way, some of the saddest I've heard. There was this one line in particular - murkhe hum na dekhain ge/ aur tu bhi yaad ana aa na - I won't turn back to look/ don't come in my memories - that caught my heart.

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It was either last week, or the week before, that I was watching SaReGaMaPa, which is something like the Indian version of American Idol. And a boy who couldn't have been more than eleven years old got up on stage, and sang this song that I couldn't remember ever hearing before, Tujhse Naraz Nahin Zindagi. And it was the strangest thing. The host of the show started crying, one of the judges started crying. They asked the boy to sing it again, and he could only get through one verse, because by this time everyone was crying - the boy, all three of the judges, the boy's parents, the studio audience, all the people I was watching with, and, yeah, me too. (It's contagious, I swear.) It was the line he sang again - jeene ke liye, socha hi nahin, dard sambhaalne honge - to live, I didn't even think, I'd have to deal with pain. It just felt so very real.


the lyrics:

tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi

tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi hairan hun main
tere masoom sawalon se pareshaan hun main

jeene ke liye, socha hi nahin, dard sambhaalne honge
muskuraayen to, muskuraane ke, karz utaarne honge

muskuraaoon kabhi, to lagtaa hai
jaise honton pe karz rakhaa hai

tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi hairan hun main
tere masoom sawalon se pareshaan hun main


translation:

I'm not upset with you, life

I'm not upset with you, life, I'm surprised
Vexed by your simple questions

To live, I didn't even think, I'd have to deal with pain
If I smile, for smiling I'd have to pay a debt

Sometimes, when I smile, it feels like
I've weighed my lips with a debt

I'm not upset with you, life, I'm surprised
Vexed by your simple questions


Sameer - Tujhse Naraaz Nahin Zindagi

Also, a youtube link.

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Archive seems to be a Pink Floyd-inspired prog-rock band. Now, to say that I don't like prog-rock would be an understatement; I could count the number of songs in that genre I've liked on one hand and still have fingers left over, and I've listened to a lot, due to my (so unfortunate, I think at times like this) taste in friends. But. None of them sounded like this, addictive and eerie and really very new. New not in the things they do - their sampling is reminiscent of trip-hop bands and their guitar riffs at times sound rather heavy-metalish and they have arrangements that remind me a lot of jazz records - but the way they do them, how all these things sound so right in the songs they're in, so natural and amazing.

Seriously, I can't recommend this album enough.


Again

A 16 minute work of emotional genius. I never thought that I'd have the patience to sit through a song this long, but this turned out to be no trouble at all. The song essentially picks up a theme and builds on it in a way that's very hypnotic and strange and beautiful. It starts off softly and slowly, picks up a low beat about five minutes in that spirals out, gets so spooky and hard and on the verge of discordant, and then it all gets quiet, a small beeping like that of a heart monitor, the line slowly evening out, and then, after the end, the cymbals crash, and it starts again in a way that leaves me feeling both emotionally wrung out and elated.

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AR Rahman move over. I think I've found someone new to put on my pedestal.

Sanjay Gupta is a strange, somewhat delusional character. He claims his movies are highly original, calls them works of art that push the envelope when in fact they're nothing more than pale knock-offs of western movies. Maybe this was why it took me so long to listen to his songs - I figured his music would be just as derivative. But, ohman. Gave the soundtrack to Zinda a listen yesterday, then Musafir, and. His stuff completely blows my mind.

There're two versions of each CD - the lounge version and the club version, and usually designations like this put me on guard, because most Indian club songs and remixes I've heard aren't very good. Indian music producers have this tendency to throw random western elements in their songs to try and make them seem hipper and cooler (MORE WID IT KAY), with the result that the whole thing sounds tacked on and stupid. But whatever the producers here are doing, more often than not it works, in such a way that it seems, at the same time, both completely natural and revolutionary, and then they do it again in the next song, and then again in the next. It's amazing.


These two songs are from the soundtrack of the movie Musafir.

Saki (Psychedelic Insomnia Mix)

Lyrics by Dev Kohli, produced by Vishal-Shekhar, sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan. A mix of traditional and techno and rock IN A WAY THAT WORKS. *still kind of blown by that* sakis were what they called women that served drinks in wine houses. This song has lyrics that I adore (in no small part because I'm a huge proponent of the "to love is to be at war" school of thought). This is no sappy love duet - both the man and the woman can be hard and cutting, and the atmosphere of the song reflects that.

lyrics )

I love the beat, the guitar riffs around two and a half minutes into the song, the back and forth that immediately follows between the woman and man (ishq ke galiyon main na jana... ishq to mera khuda hai aashiq mera naam hai), especially the way the guy draws out the last syllable, his voice spiralling up. It works so well, and the only place aside from hindi songs that I've heard that done is in operas.


Rabba (Lounge Version)

Produced by Anand Raj Anand, lyrics by Dev Kohli, sung by Richa Sharma. There are traditional vocals, a steady techno beat and ambient backtrack. Rabba means god, and the girl is saying, in the first verse:

let no one come into my life
if someone comes don't let them leave
if they're going to give me tears
then don't let them make me laugh before



Will do his album Zinda next.


*ishq: passionate love
**aashiq: passionate lover


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I've pimped Calexico before, but a couple of days ago I heard a remix of one of their songs that I adored as much as the original, which is something that rarely ever happens. So another pimp, because this song and its remix are haunting and beautiful, and I've been listening to them on repeat all day.

The original song is off their cd A Feast of Wire. The remix was on the Alone Again Or cd single.

Woven Birds
Woven Birds (Stratus Remix)

watched
with a hawk's trained eye
the trees grow silent fruit


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Naervaer is a Norwegian band consisting of Terje Sagen and Jan Transeth. Their sound is spare and evocative, reminding me of jagged cliffs against gray skies or campfires in the night. The tracks ranging from purely instrumental to trip-hoppish to having arrangements and vocals reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. According to Terje Sagen, when they were making their music, "Mood was the key word. Don't force it out - let it come naturally, and the reflection of the mood will be pure." I could picture their music as the soundtrack to a coldly beautiful movie, characters moving in wide open spaces, a landscape that seems to dwarf them.

So far they've released only one CD, Skiftninger. Both these tracks are from that CD.


92-Tid-99
An instrumental track, spare and lonely.

Dose Dager
A simple, rather lovely track, with a slow, steady beat, what sounds like the keyboard, guitar, and Norwegian vocals. Falls somewhere between ambient and alt rock.

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A couple of indian remixes.

Britney Spears - Me Against The Music (Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Remix)
The original song is nothing to write home about, with repetitive produced beats and lyrics that stand out more for their awkwardness than their poetry. But then UK Bhangra producer Rishi Rich got his hands on it, turning it inside out by eliminating the melody, creating a killer backbeat, and adding bhangra elements, all of which combine to make this one of the catchiest dance tracks ever.


Rock U vs Mundian
A mash-up of Five's We Will Rock You and Punjabi MC's Mundian to Bach Ke (Beware Of The Boys). It's rather hilarious how well this works.

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Lets see if I can get into the habit of updating this journal regularly again. First, another ambient band. According to Amazon, Balligomongo is the product of producer Garrett Schwartz, a keybordist-programmer. So far the band's released only one CD, Beneath The Surface. The songs sound like some of Conjure One's more synthpop tracks, with strings, electronic beats, and female vocalists (and lyrics that can get maudlin at times). The soundscapes vary from overproduced and predictable at their worst, to smooth and beautifully ethereal.


Lost
Privilege

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It seems as if my definition of a week has gotten flexible of late. *scratches head* Anyway. Calexico. Pretend you're alone driving a car somewhere in the west or the midwest, and there isn't much scenery, just the yellow fields or brown ground and the sky curving in front of you to reach it, miles and miles of this, stretching for hours on end, and the world seems so small and so vast, so comforting and so lonely. That's what their music feels like to me - that's what it reminds me of.


These are the first two songs off A Feast of Wire:

Sunken Waltz

He slept ‘neath the stars
Wrote down what he dreamt
And he built a machine
For no one to see
Then took flight, first light
Of new morning


Quattro (World Drifts In)

Love the run but not the race
All alone in a silent way
World drifts in and the world’s a stranger


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From what I can tell, there are two pillars holding up the economy of Ibiza, tourism and chillout CDs. I'm not quite sure why this works as well as it does, because after a while all chillout music starts to sound the same, the tracks blending into each other to create an almost indistinguishable soundscape, but then again, I am posting about an Ibiza chillout CD, which makes saying that a tad disingenious.

The artists featured here, Royksopp and Groove Armada, to name a couple, are the usual suspects (though there is the Radiohead WTF factor here too), and the tracks are good as background music, or something to drift off to, because the rhythms are constant, the melodies for the most part soothing and repetitive and unobtrusive.


Zero Gravity - Moondial (Lunar Module Mix)
What I thought was the catchiest track on the CD, and probably my favorite.

Spacial - Aisha's Dream
Pretty and soothing, representative of many of the other tracks on this CD.

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So I went to a Lhasa show the other day, and this band that I'd never heard of was the opening act. Was mildly interested, because the info booklet had compared them to Calexico, but wasn't expecting anything much.

And then they played, and I was completely blown away. Their sound was like nothing else I'd ever heard, a mixture of folk/indie rock and mariachi and eastern instrumentals, and it was amazing. As Mikel Jolet of Filter said, "DeVotchKa may be the best band in America you’ve never heard of."


The following two songs are from their album How It Ends.

You Already Know
Such A Lovely Thing

I really can't say enough good things about this band. The whole album's great, like a soundtrack to a dream of a terrible, fabulous, beautifully tragic love.

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Lhasa is a Mexican-American singer who draws from various modern and folk styles, including jazz and french chanson. Her songs have a moody tone and intriguing lyrics, a sound that's rich and seductive and weary.

These two song as from her second album, The Living Road, where she sings in French, Spanish, and English.


La Marée Haute (High Tide)
Sung in French, accompanied by the piano and bass clarinet, and then later strings.

My Name
A stark, melodious song - one of the album's more haunting tracks.


Also, if you ever have a chance to see her live show, you shouldn't miss the opportunity. It's completely amazing.

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Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, in Azure Ray, make the most melancholy music, minimalist folk pop with soft, melodic vocals. Their songs are perfect for rainy days, for when you want music to gently sink into.

The following two songs are off their November EP.


november

And now my sorrow seems so far away
Until I'm taken by these bolts of pain
But I turn them off and tuck them away
till these rainy days that make them stay


for the sake of the song

Well, maybe she just has to sing, for the sake of the song
And who do I think that I am to decide that she's wrong.


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Amethystium is the product of Norwegian producer Oystein Ramjford. Its songs have mellow, ambient backtracks that wouldn't sound out of place in an Air album, and vocals that vary from ethereal to gregorian to tribal. Where the band really shines, in my opinion, is in how smoothly all these things are blended in, how natural the progressions of the songs is, the layers and depth in each of the tracks.

These two tracks are from Odonata, their first album.


Opaque
Starts out on an atmospheric, mysterious note, and gradually other ambient tracks are mixed in, and after that sanskrit chant vocals, producing a fantastic blend.

Ethereal
In my opinion, the title describes this song perfectly. One of the more mellow, trance-groove tracks on the album.

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