What's Cookin' In The Studio?

Band: Kaavish
Album: Gunkali
Band Members: Jaffer Zaidi (vocals, keyboard, compositions) Maaz Maudood (backing vocals, guitars) and Raheel Manzar (drums)

They are the young lads with a distinct sound - extremely mature and very different from what their contemporaries are working on. Coupled with more than seven years of experience in the music industry, Kaavish seems to target a more mature audience via their debut album, "Gunkali". The word ‘gunkali’ itself literally translates into an early morning raga signalling a new beginning. The mixing and mastering of the 10-track album have been done by Faisal Rafi, who has also worked closely seasoned music producer and ex-Vital Signs band member, Shahi.

Embodying an orchestra-oriented sound, the album is predominantly composed of romantic ballads and slow numbers, beautiful poetic lyrics and soulful melodies, creating an overall amorous ambience. The Kaavish hit, "Bachpan", has been changed to make it sound fresher and other songs that stand out in the album are "Tere Pyaar Mein" (The Umar Anwar-directed video featuring Arshad Mahmood and Javed Iqbal has already scored a recent hit with audiences), "Morey Saiyyan" and "Naraz". Nayyara Noor has also contributed to the album by penning down the lyrics of "Choti Khushiyan" (also a well-known Kaavish song) and also by helping the band with the overall lyrical content of the album.

With the kind of music that the album embodies, Kaavish’s music is not exactly rock or pop concert material - the band doesn’t plan to perform much but when they do, they plan to make it a worthy experience for those attending it - assembling musicians to create a small orchestra and holding concerts will not be an easy feat.

Other notable musicians who contribute to the album in one way or the other include guitarist Shallum Xavier, bassist Khalid Khan, and violinist Javed Iqbal. Definitely one of the most-awaited albums of the year, Kaavish will give listeners something different to listen to.

Band: Mizraab
Album: Vabastagee
Band Members: Faraz Anwar (vocals, lead guitars, compositions), Irfan Charlie (drums)

After years of surviving on the album "Maazi, Haal, Mustaqbil", the band is finally ready to hit the stage to promote their new album, "Vabastagee". This album is a definite contrast to the previous one where hard rock music has given way to soft ballads and a slight inclination towards jazz, reflecting Faraz Anwar’s decision to become more sober with his music. The video from a song in the album, "Ujalon Mein" (directed by Soheb Akhtar), depicts the softer side to the band and shows a definite improvement in Faraz Anwar’s vocals.

The 13-track album which includes re-done numbers from the previous album as well embodies an overall pop-rock sound. When asked why they haven’t managed to sign up with a record label yet, Faraz Anwar said: “The game is different now. Ever since channels have come up with their own record labels, an artiste approaches the one whom he thinks will give him more promotion on their channel. But there is a lack of professionalism.” He is reluctant to name a date of release which he suspects wouldn’t be respected by a label.

Adnan Ahmed has penned the lyrics on the album, adapting them to Mizraab’s newer sound, as he did with their last album. The songs to look out for is the sophisticated-sounding "Ajnabi", "Haal-i-Dil" and "Woh Aur Mein".

Band: Desitec
Album: Desitec
Band Members: Fakhr-e-Alam (vocals) and Shani Haider (vocals, composition)

A person that has been found on numerous cover inlays, Shani Haider, will soon be known as a different musician. Not only contributing to the music but also having lent his vocals to the album as well, he has teamed up with Fakhr-e-Alam and together, as Desitec, they have compiled 12 songs for a self-titled album.

True to its name, the duo has attempted to fuse a desi element in techno music.

A notable feature of the album is a collaboration with Indian singing sensation, Alka Yagnik, in the song "Yeh Mulakatain". Shani is of the opinion that their album will stand out since dance music has never been properly made or promoted in Pakistan, and the album also has certain elements of hip hop to it as well. Standing out from the rest of the tracks in the album because of a complete change in its musical style, "Tere Liye" is a slow, soulful track that will blow most listeners away. It is also the only song that is rich in both melody and lyrical content, setting it apart from the fast-paced songs in the rest of the album.

Although Shani has contributed vocally to the album as well, Fakhr can be found rapping in songs such as "Ranjhna", "Mehbooba" and "Pyar Ko Samajh". The duo plans to release the album in India and Pakistan simultaneously, provided they can find the right record label. It’s time to replace desi dance numbers imported from the UK since Desitec sounds better, if not the best.

Band: Azal
Album: Azal
Band Members: Ali Rajab (vocals), Ehtashaam ‘ET’ (vocals), Shahbaz Ali Khan ‘Shabi’ (keyboard, compositions) and Sameer Ahmed (bass guitars)

One of the latest bands in the ranks, Azal is another story teeing off from a production house where a set of individual music lovers felt creative chemistry brewing whenever they got together. That chemistry and creative collaboration enabled them to compile an album and they now stand on the verge of an album release.

With the inclusion of bass maestro Sameer Ahmed, the band found the experience and the professional touch that they needed, further complemented by Rajab Ali who is the younger son of renowned classical singer Zafar Ali Khan. His vocal talent soon becomes apparent as his voice is rich and well-practiced. The quartet has already completed 10 tracks for the album with the video for the bubbly rock song, "Aisi Taisi", having already been shot and set for a release on the airwaves, giving listeners a whisper of what to expect from the rest of the tracks.

Another mentionable song is "Zehr" which has a more contemporary approach towards the fusion of rock and classical, and is themed on everyday issues faced by Karachiites. The album is a reflection of the band members’ experiences which is also predominantly apparent in their track, "Basti Basti" (Ghetto).

The album is Karachiite to the core, since everything from the recording, composition, mixing and the overall content that the album deals with has to do with the city. ET seems to be more than just a vocalist, and has also proven his worth by penning down most of the lyrics. At the end of it all, the band is relatively new, hence an element of doubt about their actual performance remains - the pendulum can swing either way.

Tahir Yahya
August, 2007
Dawn, Pakistan