Saturday, December 19, 2009

Album Review: Chup by Zeb and Haniya

Artiste : Zeb and Haniya
Label : Fire Records(Pakistan), Unreleased(India)
CD Price : Rs ??
Cassete : I don't know, haven't seen any.
Website :

Today I will be doing something that I haven’t yet done all this while. I am writing the album review of an act which hasn’t yet released in India and also this would be the first album I am reviewing without buying the original CD, thanks to free download on the net. Its not that I support piracy or illegal sharing on the net, its just that I am not savvy with credit cards and a big dumbo when it come to buying things on the net.

Zeb and Haniya are a female duo from Pakistan. They are settled in Lahore but are originally from the NWFP town of Kohat. They are cousins and are ethnic Pashtuns. Zebunissa Bangash the vocalist and Haniya Aslam is guitarist and the prime creative force behind the band’s music (lyrics/tunes). She has also lent vocals to some of the songs in the album.

Their debut album “CHUP” comprises of ten tracks, 9 original and 1 traditional/folk. The album opens with the title track ‘Chup’. This song is a tangy-timid, yet refreshingly melodious one. I read on the net that this was the very song which they casually uploaded on the net, and from where the journey began. Well you cam read all these on other sites.

Chup” is essentially an effeminate song. The lyrics are extremely seductive yet very decent and calm. Especially the lines “Muskurahat meri boley kya? Socho na!”, had a very spoiling effect on me. Now whenever a girl smiles at me, I tend to think she is considering me, you know what....... It’s only the next morning while shaving/tooth-brushing, the mirror reminds me that’s impossible! No complains! After all society has constructed arrange marriages for us-like fellows only :P.
Seems like these girls know, what guys like and what guys like actually ;).

The next track “Rona Chor Diya” is a bit faster and a bit bolder from the first one. The song is very catchy, and is built on the age old feminist theme of “woman’s emancipation from the emotional clutches of a man”. The lyrics are beautifully written in a way that expresses anger, disgust and joy without any attitude. Nice and energizing song.

Kabhi Na Kabhi” is my personal favorite. This song has a very closed-in-a-dark-room sense in it. It’s a beautiful song, another one on “woman’s emancipation from man” theme. Especially I like the antara part “ baatein teri na maano, bhooli mai wo sapna”

alternative cd cover
Track#4 “Paimiona Bitte(or Bideh)” is a love song in part Pashto and part Darri(Afghan Farsi/Persian). Lover anticipating beloved through the intoxication of wine. A complex explanation of this song revolving around Sufism, religion and spirituality has been given here . Whatever impression on Afghan music I had(that being of a caravan, campfire flavor) I could have never imagined that it could be moulded so seamlessly into jazz blues music. There is another version of it(not in the album) which they have performed on Coke Studio and which is fully in Darri. You will sureley become an addict if you give it a listen at this site .

The fifth track is yet another “closed-in-dark-room” song and this one has an even stronger flavor. But part of this song has an “out-in-sunshine” flavor also. I could not understand what exactly has been expressed in “Kahaan” per se, but I guess its something like a man investigating/soul searching into his broken relationship. Like a tosspot Devdas accusing his arrogance after he realizes that he left Paro out of ego-war, but loves her indefinitely.

The next track is a gem, one which adds a little variety to this album, which has been transitioned into a dark room due to earlier tracks. “Chal Diye” is a complete out-in-sunshine/moonlight song. A complete takeoff from the gloomy songs, it starts with beautiful tunes on flute and guitar. Melodious and tranquil, as it is, this song expresses the joy of being free, out in the wild, and having found a friend there, sharing feelings with him/her.

The seventh song on this album is “Aahan” and when you listen to it, you’ll say “Aahaaaa, kya baat hai!”. This song like most others on this CD are mellow, calm and tickling. I am yet to comprehend what’s meant by the lyrics, but I sense some girlish emotions. An unofficial video of this is available on Youtube, which has been made using high quality animation by some well wisher.

Track#8 “Sah Na Sakey” is a moody, happy go lucky song, one which extends “Chup” in more casual or rather freaky manner. Till now I have not patiently listened to this one and I usually skip while the CD is playing. This song can be gracefully put into the category of a filler, without which no album can ever be made :P.
If you’re not happy with my perspective, then call me bad listener. I have no probs.

The penultimate song on this album, “Aetbar” needs special mention, since it is the only song for which a music video has been made and that too a classy one. The contemporary dances shown in the video, aptly complements the music. The music is yet another “dark-room” rendition which is again built on the feminist emancipation theme. The song, as someone rightfully described, is very Claptonesque ( I must confess although, that I am not aware about the fine details of Claptonesquism!)

The CD ends with “Banke Touri Jogan” which seems like to be taken from a raga. The lyrics are written in typical language of Hindustani Classical music, i.e. “Braj Bhasha”. This is the one and only fast paced song in the album, and to which one can dance as well(sorry! No bollywoodish moves please)

Some general things about this album. You will find no chaos in this music, which seems to have made a very respectable place in our bollywood music now a days. The songs are surprisingly smooth and melodious, something very untypical of today’s music. Haniya’s song writing is fantabulous. Her command over writing lyrics is truly amazing. Zeb’s vocals are smooth and is of melt-in-mouth(ears to be precise) consistency and very very sexy seductive! It is not like that of a classical singer’s wavy, turbulent, storm-in-the-ocean type but that of a clam lake in the oasis. Haniya’s vocals are a bit mature and husky but blends seamlessly with Zeb’s . Sometimes I get confused where Haniya has left and Zeab has picked and vice versa e.g. in “Rona Chor Diya”. Hildegunn’s saxophone is fabulous and is the core of many of the songs in this album, e.g. “Chup”, “Kabhi Na Kabhi”.

Overall this album has very new sounds and the lyrics are meaningful but not overtly philosophical. Four songs of this album have been re-created in the Coke Studio, and mind you they are awesome and highly addictive. By now I have listened to this album many times over but still I am not tired.

A must must must buy!

1 comment:

  1. I take back my comment. This album has absolutely no fillers. I am listening to "Seh na Sakey" day and night