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Ajob band Ajob!
Ajob: (adjective): queer, strange: wonder-inspiring.

Formed in 2001, Ajob, a young fusion band, have finally released their self-titled debut album on September 9th. Ajob consists of the talented vocalist & guitarist Labik leading, with Momtaz on tabla, Harold Rashid as guitarist with 3 members of the former band Magraine, Resalat on bass, Bari on guitar & Saion on drums. Let us evaluate the album, which consists of three Lalon songs and the rest originals!

Fusion has always made sense. Whether it was fusion of two different songs (Jay Z and Linkin Park Collision Course) or fusion of two different genres (Lalon geeti and modern rock), fusion has always made an impact. And special thanks to bands like Bangla and quite recently the band Ajob, fusion is on its high-end!

Lalon geeti is something that inspires oneself. If you listen to the words and try to understand what the underlying message really is, this means you have the knack for baul songs. Ajob features two baul songs, and with this folk/baul trend following in almost all of the tracks, Ajob's album is a taste apart.

The first track titled 'Ajob Bondona' is a beautiful guitar intro for the next song 'Chokher Pani', a song by Meena Barua that makes you reflect on about the special person who is far away. The song starts off in slow vocals, and bounces back to life right in time to make fusion sense! The song is beautifully sung by Gaurav, which adds up to the whole moving atmosphere. Unfortunately, the overuse of guitar solo was a drain according to some listeners.

The next song is 'Adorer Manushta' and according to the band, this is the only song that resembles the band's progressive nature in arrangements. Having a jolly chorus, this song got me singing in no time!

The next song 'Bhobotaney' is an Ajob original song. Amidst all the chaos in the beginning of the song, a mad musician is trying to find out whether he is sane, insane or anything else. Catchy track makes you really smile! Probably my favorite track of the album.

'Tomar Shurey' is the only love song in the whole album. Gaurav wrote the song when he was quite young, and the tune seems like that too…a slow rock version. The song features Habib on Piano and, according to the lovebirds, is quite beautiful track! 'Ami hashi tomar shurey… kaadi tomar shurey…bhabi bachi tomar shurey…'

The longest track 'Achey Moja' also by Fakir Lalon Shai gives you a sense of jazz with a taste of progressive rock and is beautifully composed by Resalat. Achey Moja tells you about the fun side of life. The way the song is written makes you wonder how did Lalon make a beautiful song about human emotions, using such simple but stirring words. A guitar solo in the middle of the track adds essence to the peppy mellow track!

'Khomo Oporadh', the next song is originally by Fakir Lalon Shai; a six and a half minute track. 'Mohajona' follows the sequence and is the song of a devotee singing about Almighty… another song written by Gaurav. I am not sure if this track stirs the soul as the others do however!

'Bishal Achey' is the title of the next song. The band dedicated this song to Bishal who is Gaurav's cousin. According to the band, Bishal inspired Gaurav into composing. The song is sober, and features Bishal's pre-recorded voice and guitar solo that was recorded back in 1997.

'Manush Guru' is one of the famous Guru Totto songs of Lalon Shai. After listening to this song of Lalon I discovered my beliefs in a new way! The next track 'Diner Sheshey' features Mark on guitars. The song talks about envy, and the way people behave at the end of the day. Cleverly composed and a perfect signing off the album I must say!

According to me, Ajob has a promising career with fusion. However, sometimes they might consider using a bit more sophisticated instrument every now and then. This might truly add up to the ambience of their compositions. Another point I noted is that most of the songs (apart form the Lalon geetis) were composed in such a way that the vocals did not need go high, a bit more experimentation might have created a different impact. 'Achey Moja' however was very experimental and different, the kind of 'ajob' composition expected from Ajob. Kudos for that!

And this is not all…
There is a surprise about this album. Is it the number of songs? Is it the composition? Is it G. W. Bush's voice? Or is it something totally different? Well, find out as you listen to the album! The album will move you, grip you, and make you wonder about your inner self. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy right now.

This review by the author has nothing to do with RS's views. If you think she has been a harsh critic, then bug her at critico.nino@gmail.com

By Shamma M. Raghib

Feeding frenzy

Ah yes, Ramadan, the month of abstinence, temporary starvation, the consequent gluttony and then of course the consumption of two indigestion pills. We get it all in this month of holy guzzling.

We, being Bangladeshis, are all endowed with inborn qualities and talents such as being natural gluttons and face stuffers. Nothing pleases us more than to stretch our stomachs to their digestive limits and then puke it all out because of the acidity.

This indulgence of ours in food is at its max when were fasting. The urge to gorge on any type of edible commodity, when restrained for far too long (not eating for the whole day is a way too long a time for the people of this fine country) tends to burst out wildly when we are allowed to eat. That's why you get to see three to four course Iftar adverts in the papers and all over the restaurants of Dhaka.

In the olden times Iftar used to be a religious event. These days Iftar is like one of them eating contests you get to see on TV. Along with the normal Iftar items you have everything on the table form ice creams to soups. It's a banquet everyday with the table creaking under the wait of dishes served. I know people who start eating at the start of the Maghrib Azan and don't stop until it's time for Esha.

Iftar itself has evolved from what it used to be. It's not a family meal where everyone sits at the same table waiting for the Azan. The Iftar of today is a social gathering at some fancy restaurants where you probably won't even hear the Azan because of the babble of conversation and the music being played to give the place ambience. I remember an incident when at one of them aforementioned restaurants I had my Iftar fifteen minutes after the Azan was sounded mostly because I was too busy yapping with a friend then to keep an ear open for the Azan (the fact that some Western California style classical music was being played might have contributed to).

The whole frenzy of eating Iftar is what goes around and around the heads of those fasting. The fact that this is supposed to be a religious month where the devout are supposed to be atoning for their sins is nowhere near the list of priorities for the common fasting man. The likely thoughts are the items being prepared at home and the different eateries all over Dhaka that the person will munch on come Maghrib. This is the month of abstinence. Only people don't actually abstain from anything, rather they abstain from abstinence itself.

I know a lot of people who take the month of Ramadan as the perfect opportunity to lose a few pounds and slim up for the clothes they'll don on for Eid. Only at the end of the thirty days of hard fasting we see that the hand on the weight meter dips down lower than before, indicating gain of weight rather than loss. We can safely blame over eating for such a disaster to take place (yep, not fitting into Eid garb is no less than a catastrophic disaster for some).

When it comes to stuffing our faces, sadly it doesn't just stop at Iftar. The meals afterward are more or less on the same scale (meaning you could still call them a veritable feast) as Iftar. For example: Right after Iftar a person is inclined to go outside to offer his prayers. On his way to the mosque he probably notices a cylinder of Pringles on display in a shop. Because he's been fasting all through the day he feels he deserves such a treat so he buys the crisps and manages to finish all of it before even reaching the mosque. On his way back he notices that some dude is selling chotpoti and decides he could do with some. So he has some anyway. Once home he sits in front of the TV to watch the latest pirated release and in his lap is a bowl of the leftover shemai. Then comes the time for dinner (how the hell can he stomach so much? There should be a limit to eating). Since he has been fasting he thinks that he should at least treat himself to a tasty (and probably huge) dinner. So he stuffs himself then as well. At around four in the morning the dude wakes up for Seheri. Since he has to fast the whole day he decides he needs a hearty meal to help do it. So he blows up his already bloated stomach some more. Then he goes to sleep.

There you go. The eating frenzy is all that reigns supreme throughout the month of Ramadan. The values that are supposed to be practiced are all probably forgotten. While we're stuffing our faces there are people who are staving in the streets but really who cares? The feasts are waiting for us to digest them so let's go do that…

By Tareq Adnan

Book review
The Elder Gods

If a fantasy writer got high on, well whatever s/he decided to get high on, and decided to merge a Tolkien-like story with elements from a sitcom like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, the result would be something like The Elder Gods. This is the first part of The Dreamers, a trilogy by David and Leigh Eddings.

The story is set in a world not unlike ours, which is split into four Domains, each presided over at any point by one of four deities; two gods, and two goddesses. There are actually two generations of deities, and while one generation works, creating and destroying, the other hibernates until a cycle is completed. Interestingly, despite having all these godly powers, the gods and goddesses are beholden to Father Earth and Mother Sea, and these two entities call the shots.

Every fantasy story has a villain, and this one has That-called-the-Vlagh, a mysterious evil entity that spews out creepy mutant beasties by the thousands in order to take over the world and turn it into a huge nest and feeding ground. Initially, the Vlagh wasn't much of a threat, so the elder gods just left Father Earth and Mother Sea to their own devices and pursued their own interest. Dahlaine of the North Domain studied evolution. His younger sister Aracia ruled over the East as both queen and goddess, spending her time in one of many palaces and temples, being adored by her fawning subjects. Then there was Zelana of the West, a solitary goddess who lived in a cave under the sea and spent her time singing and writing poetry. Finally, there was Veltan of the South, who was banished to the moon by Mother Sea for telling her to wear stripes, and wasn't allowed back for aeons.

The story opens towards the end of the cycle of the elder gods, when the Vlagh had finally become a Major Headache. Dahlaine decides it's time to stop fooling around, gathers up the infants who would become the new gods in the next cycle, and deposits one each to each of his siblings, keeping one for himself. These are the Dreamers, whose dreams foretell the future, and the Dreamers can use their dreams to manipulate weather and natural processes. Zelana receives charge of Eleria, who has the first dream about the impending invasion of the Western Domain Dhrall. Panicking, the elder deities set about recruiting humans to form an army to battle the servants of the Vlagh. The fun they have to pick from tribes and races that are at war with one another, and convince them to unite against a common enemy about whom they know next to nothing.

The recruitment leads to a strange and uneasy alliance, not unlike the Fellowship of the Rings. The F.R.I.EN.D.S connection comes in with the characters. Dahlaine is a bit of a nerd, like Ross; Zelana a control freak like Monica, Aracia is the self-absorbed Rachel herself, and Veltan has his Joey-like moments. As for the humans, the sarcastic dialogues amongst themselves would make Mr Chandler Bing proud. The Eddings have taken their time to develop a convincing plot, and their characters grow with you. The surprises are a bit late in coming, but the humour gets you right away.

My copy of The Elder Gods was a gift from a well-loved uncle, so I'm not sure about its availability here, but Words n' Pages has a decent fantasy collection, so that would be a good place to look.

Sabrina F Ahmad


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