Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Aaina Jhyaal: Mirror and window of Nepali folk tunes (Review)


As I headed to the studio of Paleti to listen to Nepathya’s songs from their new album, “Aaina Jhyaal,” I continuously wondered if it was too early for this celebrated band to release an album, because their “Mero Desh” was released only a few months back. But all my wondering and pondering got shooed away as soon as I started listening to their compositions.Certainly, “Aaina Jhyaal” is a better ensemble than “Mero Desh” which completely focused on various socio-political conflicts that the nation was going through for a decade.

“Aaina Jhyal” is a beautiful treat to the ears, with some of the finest compositions backed up by power-packed words, and performed by a household powerful voice. A collection of 10 numbers, what makes “Aaina Jhyal” a must-buy is that after quite sometime, this 9th volume by Nepathya reminds you of those original flavors of the group that presented in its yesteryears’ box office thrillers like “Nepathya” and “Bhedako Oonjasto.” With the band’s lineup changing now and then over its two-decade journey, Nepathya certainly had to go through various hurdles to maintain the branding of the band.

With “Aaina Jhyaal”, it seems like Nepathya is back in form. Often popular for promoting traditional Nepali folk instruments, Nepathya’s “Aaina Jhyaal” beautifully assembles the tunes of folk instruments like madal, sarangi, flute, damphu, and tungna.
As you start moving from one track to the other, the compositions turn more graphical to you. Nepathya has mastered in picking up local folk tunes and melodies in this ensemble that makes the whole album sound rich in a variety of tunes. In addition, the compositions are complimented beautifully in the diction of singer Amrit Gurung, who has worked hard on understanding the typical ways of pronunciation of words in different ethnic communities of Nepal.

The first track, Palla Gharka Baika Chaandika Kanganaa, makes you understand the lifestyle of the Karnali and Gandaki regions through typical words picked from the communities and sewn with the tunes of madal, tungna and piano. Sailaijyu, the second track in the volume, picks up beautifully in the chorus. A percussion-based composition, this particular track is good at high notes.The drooling of the drums is a little too much in Jogale Hunchha Bhet, the third composition. Though the drum overshadows Gurung’s vocals to a certain extent, the rhythmic pattern of the lines are taken care of innovatively to justify the musical trends practiced in south Gorkha

As you continue to focus on words, you slowly realize that “Aaina Jhyaal” explores extensively into Nepali cultures, lifestyles and musical forms. From addressing to Tamang Selo music to highlighting the relations between the peoples of Manang and Lamjung, and to the trekking routes to Upper Mustang, this volume by Nepathya engages you throughout, with each of its numbers having many things to share.

A special surprise is the title track “Aaina Jhyaal,” which is a poem originally written by Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Nepal’s present National Poet. Nepathya, who failed to do justice by making a remake of Amber Gurung’s rousing composition of Gopal Prasad Rimal’s fiery “Raato Ra Chandra Surya” in its last album Desh, has not distorted the beauty of Ghimire’s poem this time. In fact, the words are carefully embroidered in a constant moving tempo. This is one of the most difficult compositions in the album, and has the rhythm moves extremely tight in the presence of only lead notes on guitar and piano. The vocal variation that Amrit Gurung attempts in this track is also worth a special mention.

After three years of workout, “Aaina Jhyaal” is definitely worth every paisa for its folk fusion, experimentation with tempos, vocal variations, and power-packed lyrics.

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