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In odds and evens:
2009 in a 'Musical' retrospect

By: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
Photo: Aneek Mustafa Anwar

It's pretty hard to feel disconnected from the local music scene these days. With traffic signals promoting FM channels, retail outlets screaming out a hyped number or someone you least expect humming a pop whistle, the advert of the pop-funk-remix wave has struck everyone some way or the other. In its second leg of the New Year's special issue, RS takes a walk back into what 2009 meant for the music and its movers-n-shakers.

High Pitched, Ultra Funk'd and Pop Culture
If you haven't figured it out by now, the past year was much about pace, dance and modern electronica. Any Fuad featured artist would be a testament to that. Ultra-volatised distortions, tuned up vocals and occasional background rapping have settled as popular features, predominant of Mila's 'Redefined'and Shireen's 'Matwali' where both pumped up the charts and adrenaline flow in congruent force on hitting the market.

“The shift from Bollywood to local productions is really great! We were dancing to Disco Bandor all evening at my brother's wedding last month. Both ways, the girls were on the floor so why not opt for a deshi number over a foreign one?” exclaimed a gleeful Ridwan, sophomore at one of the universities in town.

That being said (and exceedingly imagined), a paradigm shift from foreign to deshi products, particularly in terms of music is an admirable achievement. The trend (accountably pioneered by Habib Wahid, the just-above-30 producer and composer) of fusing folk with modern electronica to create a hip number was further popularized by Fuad al Muqtadir, while artists like Ornob and Bappa Majumder introduced new dimensions to the culture with varieties of instrumental combinations for easy listening. The concept of remixing traditional songs with a fresh new flavor and fervor is now a physical success and widely accepted.

In retrospect, Adit feat. Elita and Mahadi and Hridoy Khan scooped crowd accreditation with their respective releases. The former rated as No.3 on Radio Foorti's user-polled Top 100 of 2009 with 'Hridoy' from their album Ontohin. Meanwhile, Rafa feat. Topu's Shey Ke, Hyder Husyn's Na Bola Kotha and Ornob & Friends LIVE remained in close competition.

A Fresh New Start for OSTs
Whoever thought the day of the Google crowd from “digitally imposed” Bangladesh blending with Dhaliwood motion picture culture was over has sorely been dis-proven this year. Exemplified mega hits Monpura and Third Person Singular Number, their respective pre-release original soundtracks have not only gained wide acknowledgement, but also built a publicity momentum leading to movie releases. Combing today's most popular artists, namely Topu, Habib, Fuad, Ornob, Bappa Majumder and Krishnokoli (amongst others), the soundtracks burst into an immediate success with further vulgarisation via the FM outlets. Following the same trend, recently released Jaago has also comfortably fitted itself in local halls within weeks.

So, what is it about these soundtracks that make them top favourites? According to music enthusiast and band member from the underground scene Shafinur, the numbers have been a breakthrough not just for their non-conformity with the familiar, ludicrous and much criticized OSTs from Dhaliwood, rather for blending in young musicians, producers and directors who all have already been recognized as top-notch artists on a single platform.

“Let's face the fact. I'm an unlikely audience for a local movie soundtrack. Yet, I was moved by the blues and easy listening, folk-ish works from Monpura. The movie itself had great cinematography coupled with a simple storyline, thus making the tracks perfectly complimentary to the environment. I love how the lyrics echo common emotions through an artistic stroke of words.”

True that. The sound of the soundtracks have resonated a blend of fusion with folk and pop culture, while retaining to a somewhat signature style of its corresponding artist or producer. Granted, Habib featuring Nancy's 'Didha' (OST: Third Person Singular Number) and Krishnokali's 'Jao Pakhi Bolo Taare' (OST: Monpura) secured their places on top of the charts within weeks of their release much due to their respective artists' personal vibe into the music. Thus, the numbers effortlessly attracted the 'ready established fan base and later, the wider and unexpected audience.

Rock Bottom for Rock?
By now, you must be wondering about the mainstream and underground rock scene. While this year cannot be entirely proclaimed as a spur of underground talents (in comparison to previous years), it has nonetheless been an interesting year. Evergreen Warfaze came up with Pothchola, but their widespread popularity came from live concerts. Electric, magnetic and flawless, the Warfaze force to entertain the crowd remains at its quintessence.

In addition, Shunno's Notun Srot, Metal Maze's Corporate Robot and Reborn were each critically acclaimed on various levels. They carried the freshness, intuitive youth fuelled distortions and intriguing drum work, characteristic of a time when underground music was peering 'over the ground'. The much anticipated, double-disc record Rock 202 and 303 were the talk of the crowd by resurrecting bands in tandem current 'rockstars' and somewhat, reminisced on the sheer goodness and energy of the progressive underground scenes during the earlier years of the decade. However, what kept the scene alive were the live gigs with new bands emerging alongside the familiar ones and acoustic hangouts for the bit o' creative spin.

In a nutshell, it has quite a year. Whether you wholesomely enjoyed in terms of music is a difference of opinions. Pop culture revived, hip numbers shook the floor and our audience found catchier tunes to hum to. On a personal note, your truly can only label this year as 2009 feat. Various Artists, in trend with “He featuring Who”, a year of highs, lows, commercial successes and silly disappointments.




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