Rung - Green (2006)

Rung arrived on the local music scene in the year 2003 with their debut single "Hum Na". The video was nothing great – just another band performing – but the song itself was brilliant. Apart from some great guitaring and subtle keyboards that gave this song a romantic feel, "Hum Na" also used tablas and drums in a perfectly blended manner. Each of the two instruments had one beat that was audible throughout the song. And with Ifu's strong vocals as he sang "Meray Ho Tum Ho Na, Mujh Mein Gum Tum Ho Na," Rung indeed arrived on the music scene. Unfortunately their follow–up singles, "Meri Duniya" and "Koi Janay Na" – both missed the magic. They both were fun, peppy numbers but they didn't offer anything original. These sounds could be found everywhere from Backstreet Boys' "Everybody" to Fuel's "Bad Day".

Rung comprises of Iftikhar Habib (vocals), Sarmad Ghafoor (guitars), Zulfiqar-ul-Hassan (rhythm guitars) and Wasim Kamal (drums) and their debut album, "Green" has just been released. The colour green signifies peace, patriotism and rebirth and thus, it was a great idea for the band to open the album with "Naey Rung". It starts slowly but soon turns into a fast–paced number with Sarmad playing magnificently on guitars. This is a melodic song, one that can easily be hummed. Bass takes a backseat and with both Fuzon men (Immu on keyboards, Shallum on rhythm guitars and last solo) joining Rung for this track, it makes a great number. The lyrics in this song are simple but work well with the melody. It is about hope and being optimistic about the future. It's a great number.

Another track on the lines of "Naey Rung" is "Sochna". The music is simpler but the lyrics make all the difference here. Where, "Naey Rung" was optimistic, "Sochna" is the exact opposite. As Ifu sings with all his might – "Na Hota Yeh Gila, Na Khulti Yeh Zaban, Cheen Liya Sukh Chain Mera, Andhera Phelaya Yahaan, Kya Tum Ab Bhi Chaho Gay, Kahun Tumhey Rehnuma … Sochna" – it becomes clear that this track is retrospective. Think of what you do and what you don't do and the repercussions of your actions. In subtle words, it hints at the indifferences amongst all of us. Both "Naey Rung" and "Sochna" are relatively fast–paced songs.

And while we're on fast–paced numbers, one cannot forget "Saath Saath", the original and the remixed version both which are in the album. The song is a happy, very happy number. It's about someone who is happy with the fact that he has a loved one to lead his life with. Cliched, yes, but it works nonetheless. The original track is a pop/rock number with simple yet effective drumming and phenomenal acoustic guitaring while the remix sounds like a whole new track. It's a percussion number with one main beat playing throughout and the rest of the instruments filling in the gaps. And it keeps changing. This is a number one can dance to and sing along as well. Superb. Zeeshan Parwez has produced "Saath Saath (Remix)" and with this track, one just can't wait for his own album to hit stores.

Coming back to Rung, these tracks make up for the hits and then follow the sappy love songs. "Bin Kahey", "Kahan", "Behissy" and "Tu Mila" – all four tracks are ballads pondering on different emotions. "Bin Kahey" is the slowest song on the album and despite some pleasant acoustic guitaring, it loses out as a love song. It is mundane as is "Kahan". It sounds the same as the rest of the songs and has no identity of its own. "Tu Mila" is more of a follow–up to "Saath Saath". Ifu croons, "Sunta Tha Mein Ke Yeh Zindagi Hai Tanha Safar, Na Koi Saathi Hoga, Koi Hoga Na Mera Humsafar. Per Yeh Kis Ko Tha Pata, Keh Zindagi Mein Kya Rakha, Tu Mila, Dil Khila." The mood of the song keeps changing. The skepticism disappears as he finally finds a person to be with and is quite grateful for having that. "Behissy" is a soft, melodic yet morbid number. The bass lines in this song are superb. It forms the backbone of this song. But the track itself is nothing to write home about. The last two tracks on the album are instrumental versions of "Hum Na" and "Naey Rung". They're neither here nor there.

"Green" features Farhad Humayun on drums and Sameer Ahmed on bass and both musicians have done justice to their respective instruments. On the other hand, with no apparent contribution to the album, one wonders why Zulfi and Wasim Kamal are in the band.

Despite some simple yet effective lyrics, great guitaring and good production value, "Green" is a weak album because it lacks experimentation. It is one of those typical pop/rock albums that have already been produced globally many times and come and go without making an impact. Junoon became icons with "Azadi" because of their use of tablas with electric guitars and soul–wrenching lyrics. In the recent past, Atif with his alaaps on guitars and Ali Zafar with his distinct Arabic/western/eastern blend have all proven that new sounds are the key to success. This album could've been outstanding if Rung had added more innovative tabla beats like "Hum Na". They needed to add their own flavor to make it successful.

But "Green" is an album that sounds too much like what we've already been hearing. Its sound could easily be labeled as a softer version of Noori's "Suno Ke Main Hoon Jawan", sometimes it is also a heavier take on Jal's "Aadat". Mushy love songs, acoustic and electric guitaring in every song makes it repetitive and boring. Another thing missing from the album is powerful lyrics. Sometimes, lyrics alone are strong enough to drive one to listen again and again.

Pakistani music is dominated mainly by pop/rock genre. Strings, Noori and Jal are the most successful pop/rock bands today. 2003 was the year of music. "Dhaani" and "Suno Ke Main Hoon Jawan" were both released in 2003 and gave Pakistani music that much needed pop–rock sound that went missing after Vital Signs. Soon Jal followed suit and they made their mark with "Aadat". Now, this pop/rock sound is present in almost every third song. This is the case with Rung. Their album as a whole does not have a distinct identity but it has potential and some of their songs provide ample proof of this potential. But unfortunately this is few and far spaced. The local music industry is ready for a change. New artists like Omer Inayat and Annie are all the rage because of their foot–tapping beats that were never before heard in the land of pure. Pop music all over the world is more or less the same and Pakistan is no exception but only those artists – local and international – make it big who add something new to the sound that makes the genre of pop. Rung failed to do so with Green and despite having some good numbers, do not make a mark. In a nutshell "Green" can only be called average at best.

Maheen Sabeeh
The News International, Pakistan