Filmed without a live audience, this year Coke Studio feels rather cold and almost mechanical. Gone is the intimate relationship between the music and its audience, and instead we’re meant to listen to music that’s very carefully controlled and tinkered with. However, this time around there is much more to be listened to, more artists mean more collaboration and more collaboration means more music from the crimson studio.
Dastaan-e-Ishq (Nachna Peinda) by Ali Zafar with Baqir Abbas
An interesting track to say the least, here Ali combines his own song writing with a few verses of poetry from Baba Bulleh Shah. But it isn’t the fusion of the poetry or lyrics that spurs the listener—it’s the mesmerizing almost haunting sound of the flute, by the brilliant Baqir Abbas. Though he is not alone in setting the stage for this track, the award winning Babar Khanna leads the house band with his Dholak. Ali’s singing, although at his best, is simply not enough to match the work put in by the two classical instrument maestros. Even he admits their immense contribution, “Baqir Abbas has always been a great support and a magical flute player. His participation brought much more than I had expected.”
Jaaney Do by JoSH
There’s a lot of potential in this track. Both Qurram and Rup bring in their A-games as far as their performances are concerned and this is one of the few tracks we’ve heard so far where we hear much of the house band, but somewhere along the way, this track falls short of being a perfect blend of fusion music.
Ankhon Key Saagar by Shafqat Amanat Ali featuring Gul Mohammad on the Sarangi
If there’s someone who is completely at home with Coke Studio and its concept, it’s Shafqat Amanat Ali. His foray with Fuzon and its music have completely prepared him for Coke Studio but the track that brought him and Fuzon much fame doesn’t sound special anymore than it did the first time around. Granted we have Gul Mohammad on the Sarangi, but the song is taken to another level not a higher or better one.
Kinara by Atif Aslam with Riyaz Ali Khan
Thanks to Coke Studio, we’ve seen a completely different side of Atif Aslam. Whether you love him or hate him, his singing talent and voice cannot be denied. Kinara is actually a tricky track in itself—being of the Rock and Grunge genres. But throw in Rohail Hyatt’s careful direction and Riyaz Ali Khan’s soulful performance and the track actually takes a life of its own.
Saeein Zahoor featuring Ali Hamza on the Banjo – Toomba
Probably one of the best tracks that we’ve heard so far from Coke Studio 2, proving that if anything that was missing from the first installment of CS, it was the venerable Saeein Zahoor. Toomba was composed and written by Saieen himself, he reveals, "This song speaks of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Baba Farid Ganj Baksh, Baba Bulleh Shah and other great Sufi poets and saints and is a tribute to their dedication and belief to spreading the correct faith and the right path." Ali Hamza’s contribution, while sizable, is completely eclipsed by Zahoor’s performance.
No matter what the criticism, Coke Studio 2 is being heard everywhere by everyone. People are already looking forward to its future installments and have their own personal favorites. Goes to show that once again, the magic of Coke Studio has enthralled audiences with the fusion of music and once again brought people together.