Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Aath...Athara: Accepting the new 1974 AD (Review)


As soon as I started going through all the tracks of 1974 AD’s recent release “Aath…Athara,” I could quite relate my feelings to that of singer Nima Rumba and choreographer Rachana Gurung Sharma who had told me that they missed Firoze Syangden’s flavor in the recent release.Indeed, “Aath…Athara” makes you miss Firoz Syangden, the versatile vocalist, who left 1974 AD more than a year ago.

After “On Air”, which was released four years ago, 1974 AD definitely took a long time to come back with a new album. Firoze’s splitting from the band not only shocked many fans of 1974 AD, it also created some problems for the band. Because 1974 AD was a well established rock band in Nepal, definitely the other band members had to make sure that they didn’t lose their credibility and it was equally difficult to keep up with the expectations people have from the band.

One of the oldest bands now, 1974 AD’s Aath…Athara though lacks the original flavor of 1974 AD, the new experiments with sound and vocal, however, is not disappointing. In fact these masters of Nepali rock music have maintained their quality, even with this new lineup in the band – Sanjay Shrestha in drums percussions.

Many of those who bought this album must have been thinking what has “Aath…Athara” (8 – 18) has to do with 1974 AD! Too many figures, to get anyone confused. Well…1974 AD chose these two numbers 8 and 18 for their new album because one day they suddenly realized that both Manoj Kumar KC and Nirakar Yakthumba of the band were born on the 8th day of the month while Adrian Pradhan and Sanjay Shrestha were born on 18th. Besides, this was 1974 AD’s 8th album.

Now coming back to the compositions of Aath…Athara, this new album is a mixed bag of some extremely good sounds, some well tried and some tried but failed tunes.Adrian Pradhan does full justice to his own lyrics through his vocal on the first track “Timi Bina” where Nirakar Yakthumba’s composition loses its charm in the middle of the song. It’s beautiful how the voice of Pradhan takes on a slow paced rhythm guitar in the beginning but as it grows, too much of percussions break the flow of the melody.

It’s okay to be experimental, but I strongly believe one should not go on experimenting at the cost of killing one’s originality. In the second track “Yaha”, vocalist Adrian Pradhan should have refrained from trying a metal voice, which doesn’t suit him well. Pradhan whose voice came out beautifully in his solo album’s track “Sara Khusi Sameti” seems like a look-alike of Yogeshwar Amatya and Robin Tamang to a certain extent in Yaha.The notes of electric guitar don’t seem to go hand in hand with his vocal, thus distracting the beauty of the composition. Pradhan makes his comeback quickly in Sanjay Shrestha’s lyrics and composition “Aaja Kaha.” The composition is soft – the vocal range moves softly with the music packaging and the chorus is taken care of beautifully while the words are very contemporary to connect to young listeners.

“Bardaan”, third in the ensemble, is one of the finest ones among the total eight numbers. It’s beautiful to listen to the rhythm guitar, lead notes and the keyboard being played very melodiously. The way the musical range picks up the scale in the middle of the song with the medley of bass guitar, drums and experimental flute notes is very creative.“Ma Ko Hoon” is again a fusion between rock and metal. This time, Pradhan’s attempt of experimenting with his voice is however not failed. The bass notes with the major chords on guitar and drum suit the entire composition. The only fallback factor is that this song is an adaptation of Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Poudel. Though it’s beautiful to listen to, the composition however fails to go close to the feelings that Poudel tried portraying through his poem.
Manose Singh’s “Rain Song” is definitely the track stealer. The flute notes are clean and highly spiritual. The alaps taken in between is worth special mention. The rhythm compliments the flute without overshadowing its mellifluous sounds.

The last two tracks “Chhu Tadha” and “Bijayee Hau” are dominated by Adrian Pradhan’s signature singing style. Chhu Tadha has a better composition with a flute piece by Manose Singh dominating other instruments for a minute. Pradhan has opened his voice more in this second last track while in “Bijayee Hau”, Pradhan’s voice is dominated by the percussions.

All in all, Aath…Athara is a must-have for various reasons: It’s a new music by the new lineup of 1974 AD; it definitely has some good music to listen to; the lyrics are not repetitive; it’s a different story in each song; to listen to Adrian Pradhan as a vocalist of this prominent Nepal rock band.

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