Dasavathaaram Soundtrack

I was skeptical about Himesh pulling it off in Dasavathaaram; but I had some hopes as he is going to work under Kamal’s command. I didn’t expect much from it and so I am pleased with the output. Infact, Himesh surprised me with the orchestration of the song. In my little exposure to Himesh’s music, I have never heard such solid orchestration in his songs. The songs are devoid of any bollywood or typical Himesh sound. If there is something that is typical of Himesh in the soundtrack, it is the catchy hook lines in all the songs and even that works favorably. Vaali and Vairamuthu keep the Tamil flavour intact and add quality to the songs with their meaningful lines. Except for the typical club item number ‘Kaa Karupanukkum’ and extremely hilarious Himesh’s version of ‘Oh ho sanam’, the soundtrack is worth listening.

Chakravyuham Soundtrack - Karthik Raaja

Karthik Raaja comes up with yet another beautiful soundtrack in ‘Chakra Vyuham’ with great amount of experimentation on orchestration and sounds in each and every song. The main melody of ‘Idhayathai Kaanom’ could have become just another folk number, but the synthbass pattern that loops around, soulful strings and various instruments subtly following the lead vocals add up to give a whole new dimension to this folk. ‘Ithu thaan Chakra Vyuham’ is kind of an interesting theme piece with various motifs running on vocals, strings, harmonica and chorus.

‘Neer aadiduvom’ surprisingly starts like a French opera and turns into hip-hop with a very catchy melody and a structure that alternates between monologue and singing. ‘Padaithal Kaathal’ is another short theme piece with a subdued starting and a punchy heavy bass rock bit in the middle. ‘Yei Unnidam’ is a typical Karthik Raaja breezy romantic melody which is heavy on melody, mild on beats and easy on ears. The songs in this soundtrack are hardly hit material but I sincerely hope that atleast this movie works for Karthik Raaja.


Breathing under Water

The instrumentals especially the new age ones are meant for creating a pleasant aural ambience. When we listen to such new age instrumentals while doing some work, it doesn’t demand our complete attention and yet it fills an unknown void. Whenever our attention turns to the music that plays currently, it sounds pleasant. We don’t know what the main theme of the song is, what the structure of the song is or how it flows and yet when we listen to the small part that suddenly grabbed our attention; it sounds so enchanting and makes us to continue our work that we are doing, with a more relaxed mind.

But all this doesn’t mean that new age songs are just filled with hooks played on ear pleasing classical instruments to create soothing soundscapes. It would have a strong soulful melody that leaves us awestruck when we take time to sit and listen to the album patiently, paying attention to the details of its structure, melody, rhythm and orchestration. There are instrumentals with complex melodies and harmonies meant for live performances where the listening experience is enhanced and become more exciting when we listen to the piece being performed live by the musicians. There are instrumentals with a simple melody, being orchestrated beautifully to be heard by us sitting in a dark room with our eyes closed.

‘Breathing under Water’ is an instrumental album which has music pieces that fall under all aforementioned kind of instrumentals. ‘Breaking under water’ surprises a listener from the word go, mainly because of its variety. Most of such instrumental albums turn tedious because of the same kind of melody, music, orchestration and fusion being repeated in all the tracks of the album. But in ‘Breathing under Water’, except for the constantly and aptly used Sitar, no two tracks sound the same.

‘Burn’ has trance meets pop meets electronica meets Hindustani kind of fusion. Sitar pieces go through e-gadgets creating unique sounds in ‘Slither’. The soulful main Sitar theme of the album is introduced in the title track ‘Breathing under water’ and like motifs in typical movie soundtracks, the same theme with some western touches is used in ‘Sea dreamer’ and there is a soothing reprise version too. ‘Ghost story’ rendered innately by Sunidhi chauhan is an intense melody with a constant folk rhythm. ‘PD7’ is a typical jugalbandhi we get to listen to in a fusion concerts, in which live drums, Sitar and Shankar Mahadevan’s vocals slowly and gradually increases the complexity and tempo of their renditions to reach the final harmonious crescendo. ‘Easy’ is less tight than other tracks but easy on ears with a simple melody rendered so lightly by Norah Jones. ‘Light glass folk’ is like a Sitar concerto with Sitar in the lead and symphonic strings adding an emotional swing from behind. ‘A perfect rain’ is a typical Bollywoodish soft rock number with exquisite vocals by Shankar Mahadevan. ‘Abyss’ creates a variety of soundscapes and moods with varied acoustic instruments and vocals. In ‘Oceanic – Part 1 (featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar)’ with heavy strings backing and pure live Sitar sound, Shankar prepares us for the part 2 which is for purists, who want to listen to Sitar without any ornamentation in the name of orchestration or fusion.

The only issue with ‘Breathing under Water’ is that some of the tracks are loosely arranged and not as tighter as other and that is one of the reasons why I prefer Anoushka’s ‘Rise’ to this one. But on its own, ‘Breathing under Water’ is a must listen for fans of new age music.


Vallamai Tharayo Soundtrack

Gone are the days when Bharadwaj use to give good melodies only for Saran movies. With Saran doing crass commercial movies these days, Bharadwaj doesn’t get much of scope in Saran’s movie to experiment or push the envelope. Though Bharadwaj is little inconsistent, when approached with right scripts and under good directors, he has given quality music. He does it again in ‘Vallamai Tharayo’ directed by a newcomer Madhumitha.

Though the composers always claim that they put equal effort for all the movies, from the final output, you can easily sense that when a composer has sincerely worked hard with an intention to make it work big. And ‘Vallamai Tharayo’ is one such soundtrack for Bharadwaj where he has put in a sincere effort.

It is an all-melody soundtrack with typical Bharadwaj sounds in it. This soundtrack is like a compilation of the kind of the songs in which Bharadwaj is best at. You get an ‘Enakena yerkanavae’, a ‘Thaiya thaa’, an ‘Unnodu vazhatha’, a ‘Naana ithu naan’ in one soundtrack. The melodies are kept simple with heavy Hindustani flavour. The songs are supported with an elegant orchestration done by careful layering of pleasing short melodies on many classical instruments. Ofcourse, there is a rock mix with indispensable electric guitars in most of the songs. ‘Vallamai Tharayo’ reminds us once again that Bharadwaj is here to stay as a composer.


Ramesh Vinayagam - The Unsung

Listening this song which Chinmayi has posted in her blog, watching SPB’s interview in NDTV’s Super south, watching Jaya TV’s Ragamalika, and watching the video of Srinivas’s performance in last year’s finals of Raj TV’s Raajageetham made me to revisit University, Nalathamayanthi, Ye Nee Romba Azhagha Irukkae, Jerry and Azhaghiya Theeyae soundtracks. Yes, I am talking about the unsung Ramesh Vinayagam, who inspite of being more talented than most of the successful composers in Tamil Film music now, is yet to get his due. Ramesh Vinayagam apart from composing music for movies sang few songs for other composers and also did orchestration for other composer’s songs.

Srinivas never forgets to sing the ‘Kasthuri Maan inamae’ song he sung for Ramesh Vinayagam in the movie ‘Azhaghiya Theeyae’ in his concerts, S.P.Balasubramaniam when talking about young composers, put Ramesh Vinayagam along with Illayaraja, A.R.Rahman and Vidhyasagar. The strong knowledge in classical music, his technical acumen in finding faults in a singer’s performance, his interest in varied genres of music are there for everyone to see in the show Jaya TV’s ‘Raagamalika’ in which he judges the aspiring singers. In one of the episodes, P.Susheela herself was amazed by the level of depth in the details that Ramesh Vinayagam gives to singers on how better a song can be sung. And further, his latest composition for Jaya TV’s serial ‘Simran Thirai’ is a sample of Ramesh Vinayagam’s talent and superior taste in music.

Ramesh Vinayagam is one of the rare composers who established a clear identity of his own in his music right from his first soundtrack. I still remember watching the trailer of ‘University’ which had mostly visuals from the songs. What a smashing debut it was. Ramesh’s music doesn’t sound like any other composer’s. In this era of Rahmanism, it is really hard to find one such composer.

An easy way to judge a composer’s ability and talent is by listening to his soft melodies and by checking if it has got that eternal feel in it. Ramesh’s melodies for sure have that eternal quality. I still cherish listening to ‘Vizhigalin Aruginil Vaanam’, ‘Kasthuri Maan inamae’ from Azhaghiya Theeyae, ‘Yen intha nenju’ from University, ‘En Swaasathil’ from Jerry and above all the romantic waltz ‘Enna Ithu’ from Nalathamayanthi which would definitely find a place in my list of 100 best melodies of Tamil Film music.

Ramesh Vinayagam brought in some rare genres of music into Tamil film music and while doing so, he didn’t make it sound totally filmy; he sticks to the basics of the genre of music and yet makes it an interesting filmy song piece. ‘Stranded on the streets’ from Nalathamayanthi, ‘Ullalae Ullalae’ and ‘Boom Theme’ from Azhaghiya Theeyae, ‘Nenje’ and ‘Vimmavey’ from University are such rare pieces of music which fortunately made its way into a Tamil movie through Ramesh. Even the kuthu numbers or the so called rhythm based numbers are done with so much taste and an aesthetic sense by Ramesh.

Ramesh Vinayagam is a man of orchestration. Be it any song, there is a clarity and elegance in his orchestration. Ramesh has a unique way in writing Vocal harmonies. Some of vocal harmonies he introduces in the interludes of the songs and the chorus parts he puts as a parallel layer of the lead vocal melody are so deep in melody, complex and brilliantly written.

I am surprised that none of the directors who worked with Ramesh Vinayagam went back to him again. Take any successful composer in Tamil film music, they all have had a very strong bonding with some of the best directors of their era, and I sincerely hope that Ramesh Vinayagam finds one as soon as possible. I want to listen to more and more of his music.


Tashan - Vishal Shekar

I am not a big fan of Vishal-Shekar’s music. I have always felt that their music has been grossly overrated. Despite giving many hit numbers and showing their talent in few songs, I feel that something lacks in their music, the one that makes a listener to eagerly wait for the composer’s next soundtrack release. They are yet to establish a unique style of their own or at least I haven’t noticed any so far. Yet I feel that they have it in them, but no filmmaker has brought it out completely. I liked their ‘Jhankaar Beats’ very much but after that none of the soundtracks of Vishal-Shekar could be called complete. Though ‘Om Shanti Om’ was a big hit and had a variety of songs, I don’t think those songs would have become such a big hit if it were composed for a not so well marketed movie. BUT…

Vishal-Shekar hits bull’s eyes with ‘Tashan’. The soundtrack with an eclectic mix of wide variety of musical genres in all the songs is a sure shot winner and a rocker all the way. Ofcourse, it is heavy on rhythms, hooks and there is too much of fusion, but amidst all of that, the melody in intact and Vishal-Shekar has cleverly concentrated on the melody part which is packaged so well with clever arrangements and varied sounds. Only concern is that (or this could be a compliment too), the music sounds too SELish to me.