Gardish - Karavan (2002)

After their startling record "Safar" (2000), Karavan returns with a bolder-sounding, more experimental record - "Gardish" (2002). It has the likeable, dreamy, rocky feel that marked much of their previous album. The album easily gives you an idea about the fact that Karavan has unquestionably grown over the last two years - musically and as a force that sounds so idyllic together.

Angst-ridden singer Tanseer Daar suitably emotes over 12 songs full of drums, percussion, tabla and strings. While implausible guitarist Assad Ahmed has worked the strings with great perfection. He proves once again why he's really the group's secret weapon on such standouts as "Beqarar", "Saadgi", "Aagay Hi Aagay" and "Dil Ki Pyas".

Each band member has played his piece to perfection with almost no boo-boo or slip-ups! Their simple melodic songs, with an alluring sound make us sway to the group's sweeping, soul-baring music for as long as the record plays and long after.

The band seems to be enjoying substantial airplay with "Aagay Hi Aagay", the first single of the record with sensational guitar work and energetic keyboards. The song is an upbeat, bouncy kind of track that has become the part of the favorite play-list of many ardent listeners. The spinning video directed by Babar Sheikh is stimulating and enlivening too.

The title track "Gardish" is that one genre-bashing tune that everybody will be listening to relentlessly. This song is by far the best the band has to offer on this record. Astounding drum act by Alan Smith on this track happens to make him my second favorite drummer of all times. The most favorite drummer being Gumby! The song just pumps you up to the greatest levels. "Gardish" is the perfect excuse for your listening pleasure. It's truly a musical masterpiece taking us on a tour-de-force for all those who want a bit more than just the usual. Gardish is also a challenge that exhorts the band to write those songs that glue in your skull long after you've requested them to be off and hit the road. My verdict is that the song will surely be avoiding the credibility pitfalls, becoming the sing-along breakout hit.

"Intezaar" is one of those instant hits with the more sensitive listeners with lyrics that are really easy to swallow. The title I believe is more than enough and should not require me to go explaining the concept behind the song. "Man Kahe Aaja" follows running on the same lines lyrically and has a threatening atmosphere to it. "Beqarar" (Safar 2000) is one of the three live songs that they have included in the record recorded live at two different venues. The other two songs are "Iraada" (a song about hope) and "Jhoom Zara Jhoom". These songs will get anybody's mind go numb. They all sound so decent and virtuous together that it's almost unbelievable. And it's moments like these that I look forward to on albums. Moments that are so amazingly beautiful. Moments that takes us on surreal roller coaster rides. It is at these instances that I pray that please let them stick together with each other without losing the creativity that they pounce with. In fact I must say that this is one of the best lined up band on the scene right now. Everybody gels up so well and ultimately sounding so tight all through the album.

"Shoure" mixes the band's trademark styles of finely honed razor-sharp riffs and towering melodies. Tanseer's serious, dramatic delivery on "Saadgi" is worth mentioning as the vocals are pretty well controlled. Assad's guitar and percussion slowly builds but the sturdy accompaniment never becomes showy giving the track a philosophical tone.

There is no sense of monotony, likeness or uniformity as each song floods vibrantly into the next. Listening to the album is an expedition in itself, one that is just as hallucinogenic as a live show. This record is bound to climb up charts. Their lyrics are magnetic, performances are rocking and the production quality is fabulous too.

This record will surely get Karavan the commercial success that they deserve. The band had done well courtesy "Safar" (2000) that did create ripples. This record will create waves. And that too with a lot more style. There are listeners who were of the opinion that the band sounded a lot better with Najam Shiraz on the vocals. Tanseer Daar proves them wrong showing his knack for singing amazingly well throughout the album.

By the end of the year we will have a few more albums up on the shelves. We'll have Entity Paradigm, Noori and Aaroh out with their debut efforts. We are already listening to Fuzon, Hadiqa and Haroon's latest offerings. With all the eminent bands scheduled to release their promising albums at the beginning of the year, the crusade for the number one album is going to really hot up. It also means a lot of gigs happening all over the city really lightening up Karachi. It's surely a rockin' year and weather "Gardish" will win the race or not only time can tell. But for the point in time go buy a copy for yourself as you would certainly not want to miss this one out.

Insiya Syed
The News International, Pakistan