For those who believe the Pakistan music industry has nothing to offer, wait a second and think again. Guess you haven’t yet seen Nescafe Basement Season II. The first episode of the Season II aired earlier last week, without doubt left me wondering if it were really amateur singers coming up with the classiest & soothing covers ever.
Nescafe Basement was a platform initiated by Music Maestro Xulfi. It first came out last summer and grabbed considerable audience. This year around, Nescafe Basement came out bigger and better and with its very first episode, proved its worth. Running parallel to Coke Studio’s Season 6 this year, Nescafe Basement has successfully molded critiques to compare it with the previously successful Coke Studio. And to me, the young and inexperienced artists ingeniously mentored by Xulfi at Nescafe Basement have so far out done the much celebrated and coveted names of the music industry.
The first episode of Nescafe Basement Season II, featured two cover songs; Akhiyan originally sung by the much hailed and unrivalled Shafqat Amanat Ali in his time with the band Fuzon and Tere Ishq Mein originally sung by the celebrated Muhammad Ali Shaiki & Allan Faqir back in the 1980s for PTVs Rang Tarang. Both tracks have seen phenomenal success earlier at the time of their original releases, Akhiyan in 2005 and Tere Ishq Mein as early as in the 1980s.
The tracks were no less of a massive sensation when released earlier last week through the first episode of Nescafe Basement. Covered by relatively unknown amateur young artists, both the covers did absolute justice to the originals.
Coming to Akhiyan covered by Hamza Tanveer. Making an attempt to cover something by Shafqat Amanat is an achievement in itself and doing the job so well is next level success. The groovy rock touch added to the song and the impeccable acoustics give the energy to the song that kept youngsters humming to the beats of the track. The heavy and energizing lead guitar riffs leading to the softening sitar, flute and violin melodies manoeuvred the song into absolute success. For me the lines “tey Jind tere Na vi Na Layi, Mar Devin Mein Thoon Mukh na Mori. Dewaan Roun Roun Aeho Duhayi” were enough to bring those goose bumps. And the transformation of the soft tunes into the electric beats bringing the mood of the song to somewhat gloomy, that is indefinable ecstasy. Throughout the song, what silently added to the mood of the song were impeccable backing vocals. All in all, for me the song couldn’t be covered any better!
And then there’s Tere Ishq Mein covered by Asfer Hussain & Rizwan Butt. If there could be anything more soothing than this track, I bet it has to be worked REALLY hard on! Starting with a super soothing flute & matchless acoustics, the opening vocals of Rizwan Butt and the lifted mood of the song, it keeps you listening to all the harmonies, the vocals, the alaaps and every instrument with eyes closed and sheer focus. And then comes Asfer Hussain with the soothing vocals that keep you moving involuntarily to the beats of the music. The solo of lead guitar adding the modern touch to the folk couldn’t go unnoticed either.
For me the lines “Jisay Dariya Ka Paani Jeewan Day, Usay Dariya Ki Lehron Se Darna Kya” were the defining vocals of the song. Asfer’s complete control over the fluctuating high and low notes, Rizwan’s alaaps and the unmatchable backing vocals combined with the brilliantly played music, brought to screen the best possible cover of the 80′s phenomenon.
From the impeccable music to the fusion of Rock and Sufi genres, Nescafe Basement episode 1 is indeed a treat to the music fanatics.
Hails to the entire team of NB for bringing to screen fresh faces with immaculate music.
*Exclusive Review for PMR by Sameen Hassan – Writer at Smash Magazine