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Is he the next big name after Rahman? Harris Jeyaraj hits the Tamil music scene with an album loaded with expectation
When you hear the first song on this album, you'll wonder why it sounds so much like Rahman's Mustafa mustafa from Kadal Desam. Azhagiya theeye has the same sort of orchestra arrangement: the same Latin chords, the emphasised bass, and the same chorus and the Anglicised enunciation of the words. Harish Raghavendra and Timmy sing this about the "beautiful flame" (that's what 'azhagiya theeye' means). Vaali sprinkles in a lot of modish English to describe the girl's effect on this pair of youngsters.The best thing about Vaseegara is the timbre of the lead voice. It's Bombay Jaishri, the classical vocalist, and she handles some very trendy pop inflexions, mixing them with some subtle Indian-style nuances. Her voice plunges sensuously into the lower octave, and reaches up to the higher notes with equally delicate feeling.
The prelude features a flute that plays straight, uncomplicated notes. In fact, Naveen's flute is very prominently used throughout this album. Just loved Thamarai's words, and their feminine imagery that frames the emotions of love.
Also loved the tune. Looks like there's a heart at work on the music. And there's some very attractive syncopation. Certain words like Pinnalerandu seem awkward since they are elongated to make them sit on the beat.
Verenna by Unnikrishnan and Harini is disappointing after Vaseegara. Some odd Karnatak phrase endings from Harini remind you of the same tricks in Rahman's songs like Telephone manipol from Indian.
Venmathi is by Tipu and Roopkumar Rathod, who recently sang on Vaada, an album with music by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and lyrics by Gulzar. With its deep drum passages and mandolin bits, it sounds colourful, only it reminds you again of Rahman -- possibly Snehitane from Alai Payuthe -- in its orchestral arrangement.
Ore nyapagam is a voice (Devan) on guitar chords and has the effect of a chant. O mama by Shankar Mahadevan, Tipu and Clinton is a self-reflexively derisive song, calling itself a 'therukoothu', a 'western' and a 'thandana' song. The sax comes in briefly like in songs from an early Rahman hit film, Duet.
This number shows flashes of wit in its rhymes: 'Bismillah' goes with 'playfull-a'! It takes a dig at other Rahman songs, especially the Gopala number from Kaadalan. Veerappan and the hostage crisis and Bill Gates show up too!
The Vairamuthu-Rahman break-up was widely discussed in the press. The poet reportedly remarked, at a public ceremony, that Rahman should tone down the background score and highlight the voice portions so that the words in the songs are heard better, and the suggestion prompted Rahman to throw him out of his camp.
The press is now going to town with news that Harris Jeyaraj has fallen out with Rahman. Regardless of their personal equations, the debutant composer will have to think of ways to stop his critics from calling him a 'xerox shop owner' who has set up business in Rahman's neighbourhood!
S Suchitra Lata
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