Infiniti - Salman Ahmad (2005)

Junoon, at some point became "The U2 of Asia" and "The Best Rock Act of South Asia" among many other things. Unfortunately, the man behind U2 of Pakistan has finally lost that energy and creativity to a more commercially viable album in "Infiniti". There is no Sufism here, despite lyrics from Baba Bulleh Shah, no "Saeein" or "Mitti", just tracks that sound repetitive, almost like the new rock acts of the 21st century. After the absolute disaster that was "Ishq" and the experimental "Dewaar", one did not know what to expect from the guitar maestro Salman Ahmad. Salman Ahmad singing on his own album. Didn't see that coming. Solo album, now that was still expected especially after Ali Azmat came out with his "Social Circus".

Salman has gone for a more heavier and beefier sound as far as the music (by music, I mean guitars) is concerned with many solos thrown in the middle of the songs.

The clear winner on the album is "Tu Lung Ja", which has strong lead guitaring, and tabla and drums usage in the background with Punjabi lyrics, making it a classic Salman track. This is the Salman Ahmad we all know and love and even though, "Tu Lung Ja" is far away from gems like "Heeray" or "Mera Mahi", the way Salman says "Khud Socho Kaisey Bujhey Pyaas/Ab Aa Bhi Jao Merey Pass," with a hint of sarcasm, it makes the song worth a second and a third listen. "Nazar" is different; it's more ambitious and chaotic than any other track on the album. Salman easily shows off his talented guitaring and drummer Jay Dittamo provides just the right momentum that makes this track quite catchy and somewhat worth a hum. On the track "Do Dil", Salman absurdly moans, "Do Dil Itnay Kareeb/Dekho Phir Bhi Hain Ajnabee," with weak vocals. The track sounds more like a dance number with predominance from drums and seems out of place on an album that has nothing to do with beats for the dance floor. "Al–Vida", whose video is very first of its kind in Pakistan is again a better number on the album. Clear acoustics and lyrics that compliment the music, "Al–Vida" is one of those songs that will stay in your head and grow on you, very slowly. "Yun Hi Rahey Tu Meray Baad Bhi/Tujhe Sukh Dey Meri Yaad Bhi," these lyrics will form a place in your head. The vocals here aren't too great but then again, after listening to the whole album, they aren't that bad. One other winner on this album is "Ghoom Tana" and that has nothing to do with the music or the vocals but everything to do with the classically trained voice of Shubha Mudgal who steals the limelight from Salman with "Dil Sey Dilon Ko Jeetna, Mushkil Sey Na Darna." The remix of this song, however, well, even Shubha couldn't save it. With guitars taking a backseat and drums taking the forefront, the remix was just a mistake. The most interesting song on the album is "Terey Liye". The meticulously arranged riffs remind one of Jet's "Are you gonna be my girl". It's not a copy, though. A fast–paced number, only problem is the drumming which falls short. "Masjid Mandir", which has lyrics by Bulleh Shah is a song of less than two minutes with a dark, haunting feel to it. It is the only song where bass is fantastic. Now comes the shortcomings.: "Tanha", "Sagar","Munn Gum Sum", "Nachoon Gi" and "Mein Tum Sey Door" are huge disappointments. They sound redundant and without a cause.

Infiniti doesn't shy away from studio slickness. In fact, the quality of production speaks for itself. Being produced in New York and Hi Fidelity Studios in Lahore, nothing less was expected.

"Infiniti" fails to make a mark because it lacks originality and Sabir Zafar's inborn lyrics don't help. Most songs remind one of many artists starting from Jimi Hendrix' riffs to Nickelback to Staind, Foo Fighters and all those, whose end product is making a rock album. The subject matter on "Infiniti" is without a proper theme. It's loneliness, love, hope, loss, and romance – all thrown into one incoherent album that is been done to death my many rock acts of the west. It is very difficult for the listener to make out what was the point of this album. Perhaps, there really was no point. Salman Ahmad is Pakistan's most legendary guitarist and songwriter and has given us gems like no one else. That being said, "Infiniti" is a disappointing album from a man who stood his ground at a time when sufi/rock music did not exist in the land of the pure.

Maheen Sabeeh
The News International, Pakistan