Album Review : Penn Masala – Pehchaan

(  The lyrics for Main Tanha and Pehchaan can be found here. )

I did the unthinkable last week. I bought an album. Yes. I spent money to buy music. The only other time I remember being involved in the process of buying  music was when a 4 year old cribbed for Apoorva Sahodarargal cassette for Pudhu Maappillaikku song. I have heard Penn Masala before, even performed two of their songs ( No Injuries To Anyone ). But totally forgot about them over the past year or so. But then pointless browsing at times leads you to something  good and once such recent expedition has led to this. For those who have not heard about them, they are an a capella group based in University of Pennsylvania, who specialize in fusion mixes of Eastern  Melody and Western Pop. Here is my chaar aana on their album, Pehchaan. 

A very good start to the album, blending both the songs very well and is one that  shall strike the right chord even with newbies to this genre. The transition back from Only You to Oonche Oonche Parvat is the best note in this track. The humming during Aisa Koi Saathi Ho part brings out the best of the vocals.  Tempo of Only You has been raised to meet Neeley Neeley’s pace.

Definitely the best track of the album for me.  The way the notes move higher in the Every Breath part is just out of this world.Wohhohoo <– listen out for this piece. It is representative of the kind of energy in the entire album.  The final 15 seconds of this song is why i like this song so much.

I hate this song. Ok. I hated this song. Every single bit of it. It was on all the radio stations when KANK was to be released. After listening to it a few times, I decided I will near listen to it. All that changed after listening to this version. The chorus, in the background, brings out the best in the song. Moments where they are humming a totally tangential note to what  the vocalists singing are amazing.
Vocalists should take the credit for this one. The original song has been most reproduced with a lot of care. Continuing with the Used to Love You bit all throughout the Kangna part was a nice choice.
I love the album version of this song. Haven’t heard a lot (less than 50 times ) of the film version. The powerful beat boxing start, which slowly gives way to the  “Dhin Dhin” loop and then the aalaap is just out of this world. The performance continues with the same energy with the “Janana Janana” bit and some awesome silences in the background. The only problem I had was with the end. The aalaap could have been a chorus or atleast higher decibel level, to go out on a high note. In Atif’s version, his voice was overempasized. I am assuming these guys stuck with the music bit from the original album version.
This is the reason I bought this album. Heard this once on their website and made that impulse debut purchase on iTunes. I am very glad I did. Such a clean arrangement. The way the humming slows down and then picks up pace is awesome.  The lyrics at the end are why I like this track : Kya Patha Ki Kaun Hoon Main, Shaayad Mujhmein Aag Kahiin… Jagaao Usey
Once again the start, coupled with the prominence given to the piano track when compared to the original,is what struck me in this track. The Adnan-esque vocals are not as repulsive as they sound when rendered by the man himself. 

Main Tanha – Own Comp 


Another one for the vocalists. The I Am Alone and Main Tanha lines are the best. After listening to it a lot of times, I could see influences from Lukka Chuppi in the interludes, but that was in the BG part.

The originals vary in tempo with the latter being faster, but a compromise has been reached in this track. I was happy to see Dosti’s lead in the last 20 seconds, a bit that I really love. If only they had even Small Town Girl’s lead.
A soothing rendition of one of my favorite songs. Vocals go back , giving prominence to the BG track. The Hindi lyrics and the use of  Cheb Khaled’s bit later in the song was nice to hear.
I hadn’t heard the Paheli’s version before this but had heard the Telugu tune. Having heard all the three, this track does more than justice to its predecessors. The transition to Aaj Jaane ki Zidda Na Karo was a pleasant surprise. Feels like you are listening to a nice Bhajan.
The second track I heard and ever since been humming the tune. The timing of Alaipayuthey was great, but the vocals for that just did not sound right. But the rest of the song more than overcomes that bit. Definitely in the top 5 of the album for me.
After listening to the songs a few times, I tended to forget that the songs are  a capella and started treating them as normal ones.I felt that this a very good indicator of how much I liked it ( and hence how good the album is 😉 ) From a few other reviews, I learnt that this one was much better than the previous album.
P.S. : The own compositions can be heard on their website radio in their entireity and other track samples are also put up there. 



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I am a hypocrite.

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