A soulful endeavour

A soulful endeavour

For those keen on semi-classical music, Kaavish's work is a must-listen

Gunkali, the album

Semi-classical’ is a tag that is often loosely used. Writers (like yours truly) employ it to describe everything that cannot be labelled purely classical — from thumris to kirtans to ghazals to qawwalis. However, rarely do bands ever get to be called ‘semi-classical’. An endearing exception happens to be the Pakistani band ‘Kaavish’ consisting of lead vocalist and pianist Jaffer Zaidi and accompanying guitarist Maaz Maudood. The word ‘Kaavish’ indicates a struggle, an endeavour, and Jaffer, who happens to be the son of legendary Pakistani singer Nayyara Noor, is the baritone soul of this elegant undertaking. Their first album ‘Gunkali’ (yes, in honour of the raag) was released in 2007 and the band have also performed some truly soulful melodies in several seasons of Coke Studio, Pakistan. (Check out the lullaby ‘Nindiya Re’ in Season 4 of Coke Studio). For a fan like me, it is difficult to choose one among the several gems in the album, but if I am held at gunpoint, I will go for ‘Piya Dekho Na’ as one of their most sparkling numbers. 

Jaffer’s deep voice echoes all over the mustard fields he sings about. The track, with its traditional arrangements and minimalist lyrics, is umm..soulful, never mind how cliched that sounds. The passionate longing for the beloved and the yearning for togetherness both rush at you just as Zaidi’s voice rises from the nether and reaches a crescendo in sync with the subtle orchestration. And once the song is over, it lingers in the lining of your skin...just like the essence of the ‘raat ki raani’ flowers so dear to this lover awaiting his beloved.

Play By Ear will showcase a potential earworm every week for you, the discerning listener, who is on the hunt for some musical serendipity and is keen to explore genres beyond pop and Bollywood.