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Ragas and surprise chords

Ritika is a new teenage singer whose debut album just about scrapes through

Sony Music
Rs 55

Vanraj Bhatia, the thinking composer known for his scores in films like Shyam Benegal's Bhumika , attempts a pop-fusion album for debutant Ritika. His touch is evident in places, but the album as a whole won't count among his best work. Ritika is essentially a teenage album, giving no scope for the more ambitious work we have come to associate Vanraj Bhatia with.

Ritika's voice is slightly nasal. That in itself needn't disqualify her music; Nazia Hassan managed quite a few enjoyable numbers with a thin, nasal voice. Ritika does not have the strong classical grounding that a Shuba Mudgal does, but you must grant that she is confident, and she definitely fares better than Suchitra Krishnamurthy.

Badal in raga Miya Malhar is the best number in the album. Its orchestra is made up of piano notes, a flute (Rakesh Chaurasia), a tabla (Taufiq Qureshi) and a dholak. Ritika sings a couple of classical flourishes. A discordant element is the violin tones taken from the synthesizer. The lyrics talk of a young girl remembering her childhood when she hears thunder.

Mehboob, written by Sandeep Atre, has a pop track reminiscent of Abba. The beat is racy: good programming.

The video track from the album Aur bhi hain husn plays down the idea of physical beauty, a rare song in the world of pop with its obsession with good looks and Miss World titles. The lyrics are by Mehboob, a very popular name in recent Hindi cinema.

Na jao is written by Ritika herself. Koi deewane by Sanjeev Atre is another fast track and Ritika's voice sounds good. The beat is Latino and the piece has varying tempi giving it some movement, but it's like hundreds of routine numbers the Mumbai film industry churns out.

Choune choune by Suman Sarin is a slow number with a dreamlike quality. In places it reminds you of sound tracks from movies like Lion King, especially in the grand string ensembles, key flute bits and also the chord progression.

Dil Cheez hai matches the heavy percussion dance songs in films. It says the heart is something to be lost, so go ahead and lose it. Nothing very remarkable again.

Dheeme dheeme has a collapsing flute phrase which spirals in on itself and with its sparse percussion it is the quiet of the night when memories of the lover are strong and a rendezvous is planned.

The music arrangement and keyboard sequencing is by Zubin Ballaporia. A major drawback of the album is that it has too much sequenced music, and too little acoustic sound. The chord progressions are unorthodox, but that can't make up for all the other things lacking in this tape.

S Suchitra Lata

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