Mizmaar - Sitara (2007)

Musicians keep sprouting up out of nowhere with a few compositions in their pouch, waiting for the right moment to release themselves via a video or two, which is somehow considered a prerequisite for survival in modern day music in Pakistan. Unfortunately, most artistes have failed at this game. But there are a few exceptions and one of them is Mizmaar.

Literally meaning a star, Mizmaar consists of Kashan Admani on guitars and compositions, Daniyal Badshah on vocals and Alfred D'Mello on drums. The blokes have tried to reach for the stars, a bold effort indeed but they are not there just yet.

For a band like Mizmaar, that has nothing to lose and everything to gain, hiccups from their first album, where lack of exposure and professionalism kept their musical identity closed and untapped, the band now stands on the verge of a new beginning.

What strikes one about Mizmaar is their sense of the music business. Before coming out with “Sitara”, the band not only signed up with a relatively reliable record label here but also teamed up with Universal Music for overseas spread.

With their new album, one thing is clear: Mizmaar men have grown up as musicians. And their latest album, “Sitara” is definitely an ode to full-grown vocals by Daniyal and Kashan's maturity as a songwriter. And even though this trio still lacks a bevy of steady hits, it is nonetheless a commendable effort when compared to their debut.

Mizmaar has returned after five years. And for quite some time, “Sitara” has stayed in the walls of Dreamstation studio, the production house of Kashan Admani, the band's guitarist, where it was recorded, mixed and mastered.

But Kashan has been under fire. And mostly it has been because of his involvement with other bands, the most recent being Raeth, who went onto pick up a Lux Style Award Best Music Album nomination earlier this year. But Kashan brushes away all such allegations.

A considerable amount of time has passed since Mizmaar's debut “Kash” came out. And between now and then, a string of bands have come out. But that hasn't scared this trio away. They are back to remind people of what Mizmaar is all about.

A smart move that Mizmaar employed was the use of lyricist Sabir Zafar. The man has worked with some of Pakistan's most well-known artists and with “Sitara”, it is clear why Sabir is still one of the best in the field of lyrics in Pakistan.

Thought-provoking wordplay is his forte and here he does an ace job. And even though “Sitara” is filled with tragic lyrics, fortunately, they don't sound mundane or immature.

Coming to the album, one finds a cover that features the musician's close up snaps in surprisingly good print. In the past we have witnessed that impressive cover inlays and artworks are impaired due to printing and they usually end up looking like fallible marketing tactics but in this album, it works.

The musical story begins with “Barson”, a melodic tune that starts with keyboard work and works its way through drum beats and bass guitars. While both instruments are known for their strident noise and bass, the song however, is kept to an urbane touch. Kashan's vivid guitaring puts an end to the song. A decent beginning indeed!

Another high note on the album is the title track, “Sitara”. Daniyal's poignant vocals fuse in with electric guitars making “Sitara” a focused track. The video for the same has been on air and goes on the lines of remembering a beloved one that has gone missing. While the video is nothing to write home about, it is the song that catches one by surprise.

Next up is “Hai Pyar Kia”, one of Mizmaar's finest tracks to date. Slow and rhythmic, surely there is an aura of sophisticated cool here, where beats and sequences make this a soulful track of hope. However, very superfluous repetition of the chorus might bore the listener. “Pal” comes next, now a seasoned track as the video has been out for quite some time and people have heard and seen its video for a while now. The version is a reworked sketch of the older version of “Pal” but still lacks the substance and remains quite average.

From loud and upbeat melodies, the album slows down again with “Ajnabi” where low keyed music fuses with vocals that speak tragedy in romanticized tone.

The loud numbers don't fit in the best of ratings, same goes with another thrilling number “Logon Ko Rehne Do”, which can be skipped without giving a second thought. After that, one finds an acoustic version of “Sitara”. The lyrics sound as relevant as ever with a bluesy guitar solo, another forte of Kashan to put in more than one version of a hit track. The album shoots up again with “Sajna”, a trendy yet customary funky piece where guitar chimes but it's nothing more than that.

Following up is “Pani Pe Tasweer”, another song with quizzical lyrics that somehow manages to retain the woozily intimate quality as its predecessors. The fading conclusion which draws curtains for the track is also interesting.

On “Dil Ki Tarah”, Kashan unleashes electronic strings. This one's for the fans who want Mizmaar of the first album, loud and hardcore.

And then follow the remixes that have become a rage in the music scene these days. Another version of “Sitara” comes hopping along which is a club mix of the original and is average at best.

Another strong reminder of Mizmaar's debut album comes with “Barson (Remix)”. But this remix is lighter in sound and wraps the musical journey of “Sitara” on a high note, giving the listener much to remember.

With all said and done, Mizmaar has come back into mainstream music with “Sitara” and, this album is proof that Mizmaar has made a solid effort.

Tahir Yahya
The News International, Pakistan