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By Musarrat Rahman

Let's take a break from the countless rock/metal tribute bands and focus on the more traditional style of music. It's time to get acquainted with Chirkutt!

Formed one fateful night in 2003 at Dhaka University, Chirkutt a band that doesn't really focus on a particular genre but dabbles in anything and everything that is easy on the ears has certainly come a long way.

They've got Emon Chowdhury on lead guitars and vocals, Sharmin Sultana Sumi as the female vocals, Pavel Areen on drums, percussions and keys, Pintu Ghosh on flute, violin, harmonium, percussion and classical vocals and Sabbir on bass.

Growing up, music has been a major part of every single one of the band members' lives. They each had their own personal musical influences, Bob Dylan, Manna Dey, Bhupen Hajarika, Moushomi Bhowmik etc, but they all had one source of inspiration in common: their families.

Since childhood they've all been influenced by their families' love for music and been surrounded by it some stimulated by their musician parents, some by their musician older brothers. The intense power of music deeply rooted itself into their personality and became a big part of who they are, leading them down this path.

Sumi, Emon and Pintu met at the university and started to dabble in their art while Sabbir and Pavel joined later, completing the five piece musical delight. Another musical muse for the band is each other. They feed off each other's talent and that inspired them to create music together. “The effect music has on people is also another inspiration for us” says Emon.

Even though, they've technically been 'around' for a while, they've only gained momentum since 2009. As with every starter band, they've had their share of problems and changes within the dynamics of the band but now their dedication has paid off and they've sky-rocketed into the spotlight.

They've done shows live, on radio and on television for such big names as Channel I, Charukola and ETV among others. When asked about their favourite show they couldn't just pick one. Every live show they've played has been outstanding and memorable. They've also done the theme song for Banglavision's Natok, 'No Problem” and organised 2008's 'Feel the Power' which showcased an individual's personal talent.

Chirkutt is a band that prides themselves on writing and composing their own music and lyrics but of course, they get help from their various talented friends.

“Our personal struggles influence us to write as well as life in general. We believe our songs are lyrically rich and we hope to keep it that way,” says the band. Sometimes, they'll even do covers, like their version of Baul Sobhan's Choto Nodi which is written by Shahana Bajpai.

So what does the future hold for Chirkutt?

“Staying together, making good music and getting recognition for our work.” says Sumi. “Surviving as a band is important too. They're so much competition these days with such talented young musicians everywhere.”

Most important, they want to keep on doing what they love while making their mark on the music industry. They want people to feel the power that music has to offer, and to make a change within by harnessing that power.

What advice does Chirkutt have for budding musicians? “Sacrifice is necessary. You have to be committed and make compromises for your band mates. They're your family and you need to think about their needs too.

"Surround yourself with positive people and positive thinking and don't waste time criticising other people's music. Most of all, love music and be dedicated to your art”.

Check out Chirkutt's singles Katakoli, Khajna and Bondhu amongst many others in their album Chirkuttnama.

Death Note

By Le Chupacabra

Light Yagami is too brilliant for his own good and can't seem to find purpose in life beyond going through the apathetic motions of what society expects of him. Chancing upon a little black book titled the 'Death Note', with the instructions, "If a human's name is written within it, that person shall die", Light's calm sense of logic makes him scoff at such an absurdity. Temptation beckons, however. What if such a thing were possible, he wonders as he lifts his pen.

"Seeing as how Chupa, Ero Senin and Kokoro-chan have referred to it in their articles, I'm pretty sure it has been reviewed. Even people who don't watch anime have heard of it!" cried a bemused Dr Who.

But it hasn't been reviewed in the Rising Stars to this day - believe it or not. How did we manage to get away with the odd name drop or reverential reference? Maybe that speaks volumes for its quality.

So, what makes Death Note such a universally loved phenomenon? Let's step back through the years and find its spiritual peers: Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell (Let's skip Studio Ghibli shall we? Ghibli films are simply transcendental - there is no scope for comparison here). Yes, they are all anime. Yes, they all have uniquely stylised artwork. Yes, they are all steeped deeply within Japanese philosophy; enough to make it educational, enjoyable, yet not so much that viewers find themselves haplessly inundated.

And that's where they cut off ties with all things anime. There aren't any silly tropes, there isn't that puerile sense of perverted humour, there are very few issues of dialogue being lost in translation - there isn't enough for anyone with the tiniest strand of xenophobic DNA to set off a mental trigger of antipathy.

What does Death Note contribute to these stallions of Japanese animation? A simple concept that whispers to the darkest corners of our own hearts; devious characters and roiling tension that makes you glad that the edge of your (computer) seat is soft and padded; the best and worst of humanity bared in naked glory. And the protagonist they choose to cross blades with the increasingly antagonistic Light is one for the ages.

However, this can't be simply about good versus evil, can it -- how else can you explain the personal conflicts faced as you want to support both L and Light? The show will keep you pondering past the haunting ending song.

Of course, it never hurts that it is quite easy on the eyes, with enough candy for both sexes. Potent usage of framing, focus, facial expressions and high-frame animation helps commit a large number of scenes to memory effortlessly: you haven't seen someone munch on crisps unless you've seen Light at it.

A soundtrack of singular distinction soon paves the way for evocation and association the way only a John Williams piece can.

"Wait, is this the perfect animated series?" you ask incredulously. Of course not. This kind of cat-and-mouse play between two such memorable personalities requires that you often suspend your disbelief. The final third (roughly) of the anime really loses the keen knife's edge the show was deftly balancing on all this time -- it is only redeemed by the ending chapters, but just about. And there's something eerily empty about the world the characters inhabit.

If these were such debilitating flaws, a lesser series would have fallen from grace without a fight. Death Note has always been about struggling with the demons within and around us -- and it's one battle where a few buzzing flies mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. And what a scheme it is.

By Shaer Reaz

Right. Getting straight to the point, Electronic Games is one of the most misunderstood developers you can buy games from. They've given us gems like Mass Effect and Medal of Honor Allied Assault, then went ahead and ruined the moment with games that made us want to rip out our collective VGA/HDMI cables; case in point - Crysis.

The fact that EA is supreme overlord of the Need for Speed franchise might make racing gamers sweat, but as far as a car nut and semi-game nut in me is concerned, they haven't crashed and burned yet. That'll happen in 2012, if you believe in the Mayan prophecies.

2009's NFS Shift was a fine game; with a load of faults that caused gamers to rip it up and shred it into tiny little bits just because EA claimed it was a simulation racer. The Gran Turismo and Forza crowd, for once, united against a common foe and kicked NFS Shift in the hard drive.

It was a great game until you actually drove in it, said the “proper” gamers. The cars, the customisation, the graphics and even the race queens were fine, they said, but it was never meant to drive like a sim racer. It still received pretty high ratings from gamer sites, quotes from which were used on DVD boxes to further promote said sites.

Now, Shift 2: Unleashed has been, for lack of a better word, been unleashed on the same crowd. So does the new version conquer all hearts and set things straight?

Apparently, no. The game has major issues with wheels. Even the most expensive wheel will have problems with Shift 2. The XBOX 360 controllers have major sensitivity issues, while PC keyboards feel like a lazy dog that never ever wants to play fetch properly. Major amounts of understeer plague every single car in the game, with even the slightest tweaking of the suspension geometry (more on the tuning later) the car oversteers violently, throws you around and if you do crash, it turns your car into a melded fish-frog creature.

Which brings us to the damage mechanism. Either your car is a shining metal beast, or it's a crumpled heap that looks like someone bashed its face in with a fly swatter.

It's still largely better than Shift 1, where, for some reason, the headlights stayed intact even if you hit the wall at 100,000km/h while the rest of the car fell to bits around you. Plus, the whole damage system seems pointless, since after every race, your car is magically repaired without a cent from you.

The cars are all beautifully modelled (when not crashed) and the customisation system, although featuring the same “package” system from Shift 1, still holds some charm for the car nuts out there. The car list has some well appreciated additions to it, with a lot more cars coming in DLC packages in the coming months (along with much needed patches).

Sadly, EA and Slightly Mad Studios still don't know what cars make a good car game, so the initial car lists the game ships with is only just palatable. The vinyl system is revamped and the rim catalogue is a lot more intensive, taking into account old school Japanese classics.

The tuning option still has “advanced” and “regular” versions, allowing you to apparently “fine tune your beast to get everything out of it”.

All in all, it feels like a rehashed version of Shift. The only new (noticeable) additions are: intros to each race group featuring real world race drivers such as Vaughn Gittin Jr and Chris Rado; a few new cars and welcome additions to the track list; official FIA GT1 and GT2 class cars and racing; night racing (overhyped); helmet cam (utterly useless and insanely overhyped); and nonlinear career progression.

Still not a good enough effort from EA. The GT5 and Forza 3 crowd will stay away from this by the hordes. PC gamers still have no other option, so 99 percent of EA's revenue will come from disgruntled PC gamers. I'll have fun with GT4 on a PS2 then.


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