Kaavish: Full Circle, at last

Kaavish are finally ready to release the album that has been in the making for about six years. Once can only imagine the efforts put in by Maaz Maudood and Jaffer Zaidi (also former member Raheel Manzar Paul) for these past years, along with their current producer, Faisal Rafi. As a producer, Rafi was the captain of the ship that is Gunkali, so why did it take so long to reach the harbour of listeners? “The album in essence was redone; the original had been done in Jaffer’s home studio. Anything that is redone usually takes twice the time so that justice can be done to the original compositions.” He also mentioned that the entire album is played live and hence, the recording of the album was dependant on the schedules of the musicians.

For one thing, straight away upon listening to the album, you can actually tell that the hard work, blood, sweat and tears, put into it have actually paid off.

The band starts the album off with Chand Taare a track that sounds nothing like the rest of the album itself — though not in a bad way. This is the sort of song that you’d have in any commercial album but it’s pretty clear that the band are not comfortable performing this song, because this is not who they are. When we last spoke to the band (Kaavish: Speaking to the soul, October 5, 2008, published in Images, Dawn), they insisted on a need for such a track, to have it as their first track and so got it over quickly, perhaps so they could get down to the ‘real business’ of their music.

Things get really moody real fast with the onset of Chaltay Rahein. But it’s not sad, it’s the sort of melancholy track that reminds you of the bittersweet things in life and how no matter what happens, life goes on. Even the poignant lyrics reflect the sound of the track, “Kaisay kahein, kissay kahein, kehna ha kya, chaltay rahain.”

Sunn Zara is where things become a bit moody. The dark undertone of the keys is only kept alight by the powerful and mesmerizing flute. As the song picks up, the darkness is gone; thanks to the beacon of light that is the vocals. Jaffer’s voice is carefully placed so when he sings the listener hangs on to every word.

When Faisal Rafi spoke about the music being performed live, one would think about how different it would make to the sound. Bachoan and Tere Pyaar Main are where one notices that difference the most. These tracks are definitely slower than the first few tracks and perhaps for obvious reasons, we’re almost half way into the album and the band is settling into itself nicely. Out of the two, Bachoan is better, simply because it seems less overdone and tinkered with, rather than Tere Pyaar Main — which, although good, it seems as if too many cooks spoiled the broth on that one.

Where Jaffer went all over the place in Tere Pyaar Main, he seems very focused in Piya Dekho Na. In fact, his voice is the star of this track as it carefully serenades the music around it.

At this point in time, starting with Moray Sayyan through to Dekho, there is a distinct lack of variety of songs on the album. Nearly all tracks so far are classical, which makes the second half of the album sound as one continuous track. These songs are all great and have their own merits on their own, but just don’t sit well with each other.

Finally Dim Main Meray and Koi Hai Toh Sahee close the album; both the mood and the pace of the album change slightly as the band says goodbye to the listener. It is indeed a sweet parting, but after listening to the album in its entirety, there’s a feeling of emptiness — or something missing. Perhaps it’s the wait and the expectations that are to blame here; after all, this album was six years in the making. It is only natural for the listener to expect more.

Those expecting to find pop or commercialism on this album will be severely disappointed. Kaavish have already made clear they are about music at its purest form. Gunkali is all about Pakistani music at its core; it celebrates its history and heritage brought into a new era.

On another aspect, Rafi notes that in the time span of six years, the band itself has improved drastically. “The band has matured immensely through the recording and production process, their true potential is becoming more and more evident.”

Indeed, if this is just the first effort of the band, Gunkali is just the beginning of their journey.

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