Wednesday 13 January 2010

Vinnaithaandi Varuvayaa Music Review | Ajit Mundra

1) Omanna Penne:
Steady and soothing.....a composition that oozes with spiritualness and introspection. I love how AR juxtaposes the Western rhythms with the Carnatic raagas first by the female voice, and weaving throughout the stylistic Nadaswaram, whose roots are deeply Carnatic, but expressed so universally in this track. Wonderful singing by Benny and the Nadaswaram ending is surely a page from the Rehna Tu continuum outro. Nothing fancy in this composition, but the feeling left behind is extremely elevating and cleansing. Fantastic start. (8/10)

2) Anbil Avan:
ARR at his playful best. He must have had a lot of fun putting this track together. There is nothing heavy or mindblowing about this track, but what makes it work for me is the joyful innocence in the melody and the very interesting sonic arrangements using a Shehnai type sound juxtaposed with a church organ sound. The musical interlude that has this also has some very nice, quick chord progressions that defy banality. The melody sticks easy and would be a fun song to dance with. (7/10)

3) Vinnathaandi Varuvaayaa:
Wow......what a minimalistic impact! Minimalistic impact is something that I have been missing from Rahman's ouevre in recent films, but here it is, in its full glory and form. Using a minimalistic sound template for a title song is quite bold and outside the box, but boy does it work for me!!! The acoustic strings (guitar? harp?) along with vibes and small bells create such a unique, peaceful ambience in this song that transports me into a dreamlike world. Beautiful string additions in the mid section only add depth to amazing vocals, chords, and heartfelt emotions in this gem, but likely to be underrated track. Delicate, subtle, dreamy, ambient, soft, restrained, soothing, warming.....I can go on and on..... Again, a track doesn't have to be complex and adventursome to be powerful....this is the genius of AR....he can create such a powerful ambience using minimal quantity. (8/10)

4) Hosana:
There is no other composer in India who can arrange better than AR. In this song, many of AR's strengths are showcased.....sound structure, layered, thick, yet uncluttered arrangements, symphonic textures, haunting melody, soothing ambience. The sound layers are so clean and crisp....that beautiful strumming acoustic guitar is so nice!!! Also worthy of metion is the high toned Scottish flavored flute and the subtle mandolin rhythms in sync with the main rhythms, punctuated by the pulsating string sections. The female choir with the angelic expression is one of the most beautiful choir sounds I've heard. This song sticks to you and won't let go. A complete masterpiece IMO that is one of the best songs that ARR has composed in recent years. (9/10)

5) Kunnukkul Kannai
Another playful techno oriented track with some pleasing electronic arrangements. The unique feature of this track for me are the string quartet type rhythmic accents throughout the give this youth song a very Western classical feel. Relatively simple by composition and sound, but again, a nice dance number with good melody. Rahman not living up to his standards on this one? Well, that's up to you to decide, but it's an enjoyable one for me, though If I had to pick my least favorite in this soundtrack, it's this one. (7/10)

6) Mannipaaya
I was looking forward to this song ever since I knew Shreya and AR would be singing it, a romantic duet. The song has everything I could hope for in a romantic duet....breathtaking melody, beautiful soundscapes, sophisticated arrangements, gentle ambience, subtle symphonic artistry. I love the piano backdrop and so many of the symphonic instruments can be heard in isolation...oboe, clarinet, tympany, flute, etc. A very subtle masterpiece in my opinion, that can only be appreciated by those with a certain musical sensitivity and emotional open-ness, and of course, who like mushy romantic numbers! The melody is quite drawn out with long contours, so it's not a song that's easily melodically remembered the first time go, but certainly sticks with you with repeated exposure. Strengths of this track...mood, delicate arrangements, subtle artistry, certain melodic sections, innocence, sincerity. One of the album's highlights for sure and I hope it's picturized well (9/10)

7) Aaromale
Wow.....just wow!!! AR takes a page from the Pink Floyd era, but nothing here is lifted or copied. Sensual, stylistic, clean acoustic guitar playing along with passionate and mindblowing vocals by Alphonse make this track simply mindblowing. What is so unique about this song is again, minimalistic impact with sound, instruments, but also chordal architecture.......there are only 2 alternating chords being used in the entire song!! Can you believe it? The chorus part which begins with "Susti Susti" harks on raaga Bhimpalas to create a magical effect....imagine...juxaposing a 2 chord bluesy guitar riff with a raaga based melody.....only AR....only AR.... The added percussions increasing the tempo only add to the intensity and sinisterness to this pathbreaking and out of the box track. And man, what an ending...the way the vocals fade out......oh man!!!! The ambience created is just out of this leaves me stunned, mesmerized, in awe. (10/10)!!!

General highlights of this album include minimalistic impact, originality, very sophisticated and classy arrangements, incredibly strong ambience and sound quality, and soothing influence. I don't think anyone will be complaining about sound issues in this album like we saw for Blue, as ARR I think paid a lot more attention to that aspect this time around, perhaps keeping our "Blue" feedback in mind??? The soundtrack also has a wide range of styles, sounds, musical forms that keep you interested. Because of the highly international, situational, and somewhat unconventional nature of the songs, these will only be appreciated most with time, post movie visuals, and by those who are most open minded about music in general. Those who only like the antara-mukhda type film songs will find the listening experience to be awkward and just too esoteric. Also, except for the first track with carnatic raagas, most of the rest of the album is void of obvious ethnic Indian sounds/styles/forms, consistent with the international and more universal musical approach. This again, may be a turn off to some. Like all new ARR albums, esp. ones like this that have some unconventional and new elements, it will take time to grow.

My overall rating....9/10. A distinct highlight of ARR's of the very finest musical packages you will find anywhere in the world today, not because of its complexity, wizzardry, or dynamics, but for sincerity, ambience, mood, minimalism, subtlety, and overall spiritualness. A nice instrumental track addition would have made this album perfect for me.

Thanks to Ajit Mundra for the awesome review =)


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