Friday, September 28, 2012

MUSIC REVIEW : GANARAJ ADHIRAJ




For those who don’t know, gulraj singh is a music composer who also plays the harmonium and the electric keyboard. He is a regular in Shakar – Ehsaan – Loy’s group, and he even was a part of SEL’s episode of Coke studio at MTV.

Last year he released an album “Ganaraj Adhiraj” featuring 10 tracks. Call it lack of promotion or the effective curbing of piracy, this album wasn’t available on any pirated website (A commendable feat indeed). Thus, naturally not many heard this album. But it was praised critically by everyone who heard it.

This year the composer is back with “Ganaraj Adhiraj 2012”, and this time he again includes the 10 songs from last year’s album. Thankfully due to good promotion, this time people are listening and buying this album.

Since I started blogging months after it released, I decided to review both last year’s and this year’s songs.

“GANESH MANTRA” is a short mantra which is sung by Gulraj singh and ehsaan. With a haunting beginning, it serves as a perfect opening track. Gulraj singh’s vocals are really very good.

“GANARAJ ADHIRAJ” starts off with a strong guitar loop. Shankar mahadevan sings this song with finesse. He is spot on in every note, and the “ganaraj adhiraj” portion is particularly very well done. Hear him change scale and tune totally in the second antara and return back to the base loop – awesome. The lyrics are worth listening to carefully. Gulraj uses a lot of instruments in the background, and the result is quite a melodious final product.

“JAY JAGADISH” is a highly experimental track. Beginning with a cello, it has a rather different beat. Salim merchant and hamsika iyer sing this one. Salim merchant sings in too high a scale. I really loved the arrangements by gulraj singh – lovely.
Overall, the song is worth a listen, but will take time to grow. I found it slightly paled in comparison to the other tracks.

“DEVA HO DEVA” has a loud and grand feel to it. Gulraj’s arrangements are again brilliant. Add to that a flawless rendition by Shankar mahadevan and we have another superb song.

“TUM JEEVAN” sees gulraj attempting accepella. The song starts off rather strangely, before finally settling down. Gulraj’s rendition is very good; he sounds like shankar mahadevan at places. But I felt the overall arrangement of the song could have been better. Somehow it didn’t sound too proper for a ganapati song. Nevertheless, it is a decent listen for the lyrics and vocals by gulraj and Sukriti kakkar and Prakriti kakkar.

“JANA GANA BHAJA MANA” is a fantastic track – it begins as if it is a lounge track. Prajakta shukre’s voice is awesome. The song changes genre going into a full ganapati mode (Hear it and you’ll know what I mean.)
A very different and melodious track, I loved this one.

The 2 best songs of the album introduce us to Shankar mahadevan’s two sons – Siddharth and Shivam. And both of them are fantastic.

“BOLO NA BOLO” begins with 10 year old Shivam mahadevan’s vocals. His voice drips off purity and innocence. He is very very good in his rendition, effortlessly variating his scale. He is accompanied by Akriti kakkar (Very melodious) and Alyssa Mendonsa (Her typical soothing voice). Do listen to this one. It is a gem of a song.
The song has an instrumental version by Ashwin Srinivasan. With a mind blowing combination of flute, piano and background manjeera, this one is a beauty.



“TU HI HAI” is my favorite song of the album. Shankar mahadevan’s elder son Siddharth mahadevan sings this one. I really loved his voice. The tune of the song is reminiscent of A.R Rahman’s compositions. The icing is the “Mangal moorat ho” loop – it is brilliant. Add to that hamsika iyer’s short interlude which is good too.



I make it a point to listen to “Tu hi hai” and “Bolo na bolo” before sleeping at night – a very enthralling experience. Both the junior mahadevan are definitely chips off the oild block – definitely going to follow their daddy’s footsteps as far as versatility and singing is concerned.

Lastly we have a “GANESH AARTI TRADITIONAL” which is a rousing seven and a half minute aarti sung by a large number of singers – Akriti kakkar, Aparna kaur, Arpita mukherjee, Gulraj singh, Meenal jain, Prajakta shukre, Rajiv sunderesan, Rohan pradhan, Sachin thapa, and Soumil shringarpure. PHEW!
The outcome is a very fitting end to the album – an aarti which is soothing and a fitting ode to Ganesh ji.

This was the ten track album which released in 2011.

Twenty days back, Gulraj singh released “GANARAJ ADHIRAJ 2012” consisting of 6 new tracks –



“GANAPATI BAPPA MORYA” is an energetic “Ajay atul” type of ganesh song. With marathi lyrics, the two singers Dr Ganesh Chandanshive and Shankar mahadevan totally own this song. They infuse a lot of energy into the song. This one is bound to be played at ganpati pandals.

“JAYA JAYA HO DEVA” is the best track of the new 6 tracks. One of my favorite singers Vijay prakash sings this one along with Siddharth mahadevan, and both of theme are just awesome. Their classical rendition is perfect and one cannot decide which one sings better (Kudos to siddharth as he matches Vijay prakash’s vocals at every step.)
Gulraj singh does a clever thing by including a very addictive loop of “Jaya jaya ho deva”. It gives an anthemic feeling to the song, as observed by one of the reviewers of this album.

“VANDAN HO” sees Hariharan after a long time featured in an album. The song begins as a pop-ish song with Hariharan too sounding as if singing a pop sing. But as the song progresses, he is back to his melodious awesome self. The song gets even more beautiful with the introduction of tabla (Brilliant!) in the background. This one is musically a treat for hariharan fans.

“TERA NAAM VED PURAAN” is sung by Nandini Srikar. A semi classical fusion song, nandini is as usual very good in her vocals. Nothing in the league of her recent melody (Duaa from Shaghai), this one still stands out due to her singing and some nice instrumentation by gulraj singh and some neat guitar rendition by abhay.

“BOLO NA BOLO” arrives in another “pop version” this time. While Loy mendonsa’s “Vakratunda mahaakay” rendition sounds a little out of place in the song, this time young Shivam Mahadevan gets the entire cake to himself – and he devours it. LITERALLY! He is just too good and sweet in his singing. The antara portions are even better. DO LISTEN TO THIS ONE just for his singing. The pepped up music arrangements worked for me compared to the almost unplugged version in 2011’s album.

FINALLY WE HAVE THE “TRADITIONAL AARTI” by the famous “LALBAUG CHAA RAAJAA PARICHAY SAI BHAJAN MANDAL” and it is sheer brilliance. The chorus in totally flawless and goosebumps –
inducing. This one is perfect for being played as an aarti in all ganpati pandals or every occasion which requires a ganesh aarti.
Towards the end, it does remind us of “Deva shree ganeshay” from Agneepath as even the lyrics are the same.

OVERALL, this is the best non filmy album I’ve heard in a long time. It is a devotional album, but unlike the other devotional albums, this one is given a slight modern treatment with fusion elements at places. If the first album (2011) was sheer brilliance, the composer follows it with almost an equally good sequel. But I recommend this album especially for those two new finds – Shivam and Siddharth mahadevan.



For a festival which is celebrated on a GRAND scale, this one is a fitting tribute by Composer Gulraj singh and lyricist Manoj yadav.

MY PICKS – TU HI HAI, BOLO NA BOLO (ALL VERSIONS), JAYA JAYA HO DEVA, JANA GANA BHAJA MANA, LALBAUG CHAA RAJA AARTI.

MY RATINGS – 8.5 / 10
  

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