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'The lyrics by P Vijay paint a flattering picture of 'namma ooru' or our place. References to the pan-spitting habit go with descriptions of green everywhere, and all this is compared favourably with "foreign" customs, such as eating uncooked bread'


Space effects on
'Eppo varuvaro'

Shreeni dons his music composer's cap again and weaves some Enigma into his tracks


Ussele is Shreeni's second pop album, the first being Parvai. With a series of popular hits from films like Sapnay and Lagaan under his belt, Shreeni (full name Srinivas) has returned to do some non-film songs, and the result is this album.

Shreeni has also been singing title songs for the daily soaps on the Tamil channels. The veteran composer M S Viswanathan got him to sing ghazals for what is being advertised as the first ever ghazal album in Tamil.

Eppo varuvaro (by Gopalakrishna Bharati in raga Jaunpuri) was popularised by the great Madurai Mani Iyer. It is sung here by Unnikrishnan and Kalyani Menon, but it has been transformed into a modern Enigma-style number, complete with distant chants and space effects.

The beat is rap, but Enigma's trademark church music is replaced by some alaaps by Kalyani Menon. A deep male voice intones at the beginning, "Endan kali theera eppo varuvaro". An operatic rendition follows of the phrase Eppo Varuvaro. Nothing much to be said for Kalyani Menon's vocals, but this is definitely a memorable tune.

The title track Ussele ussele is fast paced, and the Arab and Indian percussion add a quirky quality to the layout. It is sung by Shreeni, Timmy, Karthik and Tippu. The acoustic guitars are inspired by the best dance tracks from the 70's. Tippu, who has many hits like Minnale to his credit, and Karthik (of Ale ale fame from the film Dil), sing on other tracks too. Kumaresh of the Ganesh-Kumaresh duo plays the decidedly Celtic solo violin on this track.

The lyrics by P Vijay paint a flattering picture of 'namma ooru' or our place. References to the pan-spitting habit go with descriptions of green everywhere, and all this is compared favourably with "foreign" customs, such as eating uncooked bread. Take the following cascade -- Kaithari kankaakthchi, mottamaadi kaatadi, kovil kolam karpooram, inbam, mela chattam -- these make up the strings of alliterated images. The song is repeated on side B.

Nila penne is by Shreeni, Karthick and Timmy. The beat is truly bass, and the track is an ode to 'asal muthu' or a pearl of a girl. Styled like a Western R&B ballad, the flutes and panpipes assume a Celtic touch in the interlude. The small inclusions of raga Kalyani add just that bit of interest.

Neil Diamond's You don't bring me flowers might have inspired the guitar intro to Mahalaxmi Iyer's slow, contemplative ballad Taalatum raagathil. The shift towards the end of the pallavi with the violin ensemble sending up rockets of notes is unexpected. The veena by Devi is played with crisp precision. The second interlude has more veena coupled with guitar notes. The song talks of life's intense moments, such as the music of the bamboo setting you on fire.

Pachakili pachakili has become popular with the TV serial Chembarathi. Very rooted in the folk -- both the flute passages and the actual tune. Some jazz lies in the bass guitar and the ambient riffs.

Chitra sings Mazheye, a soft, romantic and a folksy invitation to the rain. Again the heavy bass and synth sounds remind you that this is a pop album.

We are told that Srinivas hummed the fishermen's words Ussele ussele while trying out a tune, and the name stuck for the album. Ussele ussele is produced by Rajiv Menon of Minsara Kanavu and Kandukondein Kandukondein fame.

This is an album with a range of influences -- pop, of course, but also Karnatak and jazz. We had some difficulty locating it in Bangalore. Tamil film music is so overwhelmingly popular that efforts such as this, though light-hearted and in the "pop" realm, don't seem to find ready shelf space.

S Suchitra Lata 

Published on 21 Jan 2002

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