11 Jul 2010
Noori yesterday announced their 3rd studio album for release this September to many fan girl shrieks from men and women aptly labelled noori nuts by another US based Pakistani (and Lahori) blogger who blogs at Dishoom Dishoom. For all my efforts I cannot find the name/identity of said blogger. Mystery to be solved some other time I am not being lazy (so maybe not).
Back to Noori. The album, which was previously rumored to be called Begum Gul Baqoli Sarfarosh (as caught on tape in a rather amateur Noori interview on YouTube, see below) is now reportedly called Rahi Yahan Kay. The band is yet to announce this on their website but my trusted music news source Koolmuzone reports this, so in high likelihood it is legit information. (Koolmuzone is another great story I need to find out more about, one of the main guys, Faiz Dar is apparently just 16 (as seen from Twitter bio) and the website has grown beyond its awkward naming into quite possible the best entertainment reporting in the country.) So it seems that Noori has let go of its long, funky album naming. But have they let go of more? (That last line is such an American journalist phrase)
Noori’s first two records, Suno Ke Main Hun Jawan and Peeli Patti Aur Raja Jani Ki Gol Dunya, were famously part of a trilogy on the human journey. The former being anthems of hope, drive, energy and passion and the latter a tale of when life goes astray. If Rahi Yahan Kay is the third part to this series, the question remains, what is it about? Love as a general theme, not necessarily romantic love, is a guess, but that’s about it.
Noori came on to an ailing Pakistani music scene with a bang. They had their bad fashion moments, but overall the band gained the status of the leaders of the revival of desi rock after the demise of Junoon (Entity Paradigm, or simple EP, were also huge, also had a cult following but were perhaps more niche as their rock was harder, stronger sounding and much more conceptual. That said they too perhaps deserve the same status). In one of these moments, Noori proclaim their songs are not love songs as they made their mark straying from the norm (see embedded video below, look for part with Noor’s sunglasses to a black backdrop). As their metal proved itself by 2005 though, and the continuing cult following after, the band revealed some of its earlier works that were still unreleased. In came Do Dil, Noori’s first composition, and first (yes) love song. The band then went on to redo Sari Raat Jaga as a ballad at Coke Studio 2 to resounding success. At Coke Studio 3 they presented Tann Dolay, to much criticism for its incompleteness, only for the studio version to be announced soon after and then released with announcement of the new album.
Along with promising a studio version of Tann Dolay featuring my other favorites Zeb & Haniya, the band also accomplished another milestone, answering criticism directly (really really directly). The band often remains absent from the mainstream for long periods at a time, and don’t regularly feature in interviews or news stories as regularly as other stars of the industry. This unique sort of press involvement with their video blog was a start.
Tann Dolay also presents insights into the new album. Off the mark it sounds groovier and funkier than Noori’s previous efforts. The sound is somewhat reminiscent of Mujhay Roko, one of the band’s underground hits of yore, in the days of Noori’s internet mania. Mujhay Roko has also been rumored to be part of this third record, though nothing concrete is available yet. The new Tann Dolay sees a stronger sound from Ali Hamza’s bass. One would expect he’s getting more and more comfortable with it since he picked it up after Peeli Patti. Hamza’s vocals also take front seat, and that’s been expected since his coming of age on Coke Studio 2, strumming to his banjo and claiming his trademark baritone.
Gumby (John Louis Pinto) will be a notable absence from this Noori album, which unlike the others will not rely on Gumby’s innovation and ability as a signature sound. With no full time drummer as part of the band the guitars may take centre stage, but you never know. Also absent it seems, is Mekaal Hasan, who recorded, mixed and mastered the first two albums. Mekaal himself has also recently taken a break from production and Noori has been partnering with Shiraz Uppal on releases since Do Dil. The band has been all praise for the veteran through all their work with him.
Not many big names make up Noori’s live band usually, with Ali Noor taking lead vocals and interacting with the crowd, occasionally picking up the guitar, and Hamza singing and strumming on either his bass or guitar. Salman Albert is back working with the band in the studio, and other names are to be revealed in the near future. The album is likely to be self produced, though, like they have been previously, unlike other acts in the industry who work with a seasoned producer separate from the band.
A track list of Kedaar, Tann Dolay, possibly Mujhay Roko and 1947 at once seems mellow and groovy. While Peeli Patti was at times slower than the first album, with Aarzoo, Meray Log, Jo Meray & Mein, it retained Noori’s signature energy. Fans can probably look forward to similar adrenaline levels in this album. Present with Hamza’s spiritual, hopeful, uplifting compositions will be Noor’s seasoned symphonies and angst-ridden genius (as one article called it). Where or how that presents itself is still open.Lyrically the album should be strong, considering Noori’s growing maturity and proximity to Urdu powerhouses in their renowned academic family. Noori’s lyrics, though always meaningful have drawn criticism regularly for often being simplistic and repetitive (mann, tann, re etc. being signature Noori).
Noori has been labelled awami (of the people) by one Pakistani newspaper, and they have shown their patriotic and spiritual sides after Peeli Patti. While their previous patriotism (nation wise per se) was limited to Jana Tha Hum Ne and Meray Log (and perhaps Dil ki Qasam), they really have gone more awami. With the runaway success of Aik Alif with folk troubadour Saeein Zahoor, the relevance of Kedaar, a song for the environment with the UNDP, a drattingly catch Jhoom Lay for the Cornetto Ice Cream Ad and even Madinay Main (embedded below), a naat by Ali Hamza, the band has experimented and shined. This album will be for the Noori cult surely, but is it meant to be awami? What Noori wants its fan base to be, tight and intellectual or a mass market will be an interesting question to pose after the release of the album.
I am a Noori Nut (too the annoyance of some friends and the common happiness of many others), and am very excited.