9 Feb 2011
Every time I hear Raat Jaagi it makes me think of how influential Junoon really was.
Disclaimer: All the conclusions of this post may be completely coincidental, or totally untrue. But we’ll give it a shot.
The main riff is really reminiscent of many non-Sufi Junoon songs which employed similar riffs such as Khooey Aankhein and Heeray. Ali Alam’s (I think that’s him singing there) vocals have this great quality of being upbeat all the time, and yet being able to extract various emotions without changing tone drastically. From the upbeat, comforting, happy vibes of Ham Naa Rahay, he switches to a sort of unsettling, teasing broken vocal here. Ali Alam is no Ali Azmat, but I think both the band and the fans have taken to the energy in the music, evidenced by this life performance, and go with the flow. And rather uncannily, Ali Azmat too has the skill to evoke raw, unsettling emotion.
But if you’re still looking for more Junoon references, the song even quotes “ye waade jhoote, ye kasmein jhooti hain“, from Khooey Aankhein.
I often feel that Junoon has been the most defining of bands for post 2000 acts. The Vital Signs and Nazia Hasan were of course present, but no one has managed to mimic the Signs’ Floydian sound or Nazia Hasan’s true funky pop vibe. Unfortunately commercial music has shifted from pop that pushed boundaries to cheap rock that is often meaningless, loud, noisy and quite frankly an insult to audiences’ intelligence. Interestingly, the only band which openly cites The Signs and Nazia Hasan as important influences has gone on to define a completely unique sound itself, which has also remained largely unimitated. The Strings sound that’s composed of broken guitar riffs, unusual rhythms generated from vocal harmonies, guitars or eastern percussion that take center stage ahead of the drums, with keyboards often accentuating the melody along with melodious guitar solos and a huge vocal range. Perhaps that is hard to imitate.