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Sunday, September 14, 2014

I - A.R.Rahman

It has been few years since A.R.Rahman stopped caring about new sounds in his music. Rahman’s arrangements have become straight, quite, calm and restrained. He has been concentrating on constructing quirky and unique melodic structures that he can call his own, than concocting never-heard-before sounds and instruments in the arrangements which he did quite a lot in early days of his career, and which he figured anybody is able to do these days. He is even open to making an all conventional song in all aspects and exploring if there is anything definitive that he could create in that space. I absolutely love this phase of A.R.Rahman, in which, the general opinion is that Rahman’s music isn’t exciting anymore. However, I also love that playful A.R.Rahman who spins a fine yarn with strands and threads of extremely varied musical fabrics. He does that in the breath taking Aila. A melody that seamlessly swings between Jazzy, operatic and conventionally filmy, beats that is techno which out of nowhere jumps to Punjabi somewhere in the middle, there is a serene Hindustani choir piece seamlessly seeping in an interlude — you just can’t predict what happens next in this song. A.R.Rahman at his freaking experimental best.

There is a flip side to this experimental streak when it is pushed to an extreme, out of which is born a song like Ladio. I get where this is coming from but I wish it had turned out like “Hey Hey Yenna Aachchu Unakku” instead of a “Bailamore”. I still like the Kasada Thapara hook and its variations throughout the song. The overt techno sound apart, I don’t like what I think is the main melody line of the song. When I first heard the samples of song before the audio release, I thought they mixed Radio Mirchi theme song with I song samples by mistake. I admit I hated Merasalaayittaen song when I heard it the first time, which I like now, but I don’t see that happening with Ladio ever.

With Merasalaayittaen, Rahman is playing straight to the gallery, and he badly goes after a simple, hit song, and he gets one. Due to that conventional synth hook, I thought Rahman’s being lazy and is taking an easy root, but he isn’t. Give the word Merasalaayittaen to any composer in the world, no one would have thought of musical phrase that Rahman has come up to fit the word in. The song is upbeat, but it has a neat flow of melody which wasn’t apparent to me in my first few hearings of the song. I was so worried about the simplistic, crowd pleasing arrangements, and the processed voices, that I looked away from the melody. Even the remix version is fine, where some musical layers in the original song are fleshed out and brought to fore.

Chinmayi’s Ennodu Nee Irundhaal is yin to yang that is Sid Sriram’s Ennodu Nee Irundhal. One is a straight, conventionally presented tamil film romantic duet, while other is a spectacular orchestral-rock version of the song with a grand choir following the lead voice (I like the way the chorus is mixed in the songs throughout the soundtrack) and dramatic orchestral twists and turns all the way. And just how charming is the melody of the charanam that goes Unmai Kaadhal! Vintage A.R.Rahman melody that is. And pallavi sounds like what came out of Shankar asking Rahman to retain all different melodies he tuned for the verse “Ennodu Nee Irundhal” in the song. It could have easily become monotonous, but it doesn’t, beautifully flows like one whole seamless melody.

Pookkalae Satru Oivedungal is that simple semi-classical romantic melody of every Shankar-Rahman soundtrack, using which Shankar travels to exotic locations with his lead pair and make them dance in front of most beautiful and picturesque places in the world. That Guitar motif that accompanies the main melody sounded so distracting initially, but have gotten used to it now, and gives an instant signature to the song. Both Haricharan and Shreya Ghosal exquisitely ooze the romance out of what sounds like a raaga based melody. Sweetest song of the soundtrack, and some call this song’s genre as 90s Rahman.

A.R.Rahman’s “I”- Ladio is the ugly truth, rest of I is Beauty.


Pragathi Sundar Pinchi said...

Super Review.

I tried to listen all the songs more than thrice to get the actual feel of it. But as you said Ladio falls flat with no change in my initial liking, which was weak. But Aila Aila is class!

KT followed by I! Such versatility. God bless ARR and his earnest fan and reviewer,You.

Venkat Sai said...

Great review! I gave it 3 listenings back to back due to my impatience to start liking the album as soon as possible. And as I said in my twitter comment that I found it underwhelming, maybe my impatience led to that hypothesis. I am taking a break from all that initial impatience and am going to let myself naturally go back to I and give it its proper due. I did like "Ennodu Nee Irundhal" (both versions), "Pookkale.." (most of it) and Mersalaayiten (both versions). However even these, I felt it didn't create enough feelings in me to go ga-ga over it considering ARR's reputation.

But as usual, you are the man to review like this! :)

Sunil Malhotra said...

Superb review Suresh Ji

please check mine if you have a moment.


Anonymous said...

Best review , pookal is my fav, followed by ennodu (chmayi), Aila and so on.

Anonymous said...

Nice review. I too feel the same exactly. I tool felt the same for merasalaayiten and now i like that song. Even after multiple listen, i do not like ladio that much. Exactly you wrote what i felt

MusicLover said...

I just don't understand why do you guys have to listen many times just to forcefully liking it. There are thousands of better songs that you can instantly hook up to. Life is short guys. Any song you repeatedly listen, it will sit on your head.

Syed Nizamudeen said...

@Music Lover:

Instant hook ups are just like instant noodles and that are something that follows current trend and they are highly predictable.

Songs of ARR are different, musically and Vocally. It has certain additional details incorporated in each track and those does not get recognizable in the first listen and but grows when we hear later or listen during some other occasion.

PS: All ARR tracks are not slow poison. There are instant hits too.(I loved Aila Aila in first listen. Many loved Ennodu,Pookalae,Mersalaayten in first listen)

We don't forcefully like an ARR track. It's the tracks which make us like them.

Anita said...

Actually loved Ladio!