The duo of Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj have been busy since their debut album released in 2002. They have provided music for the movie Let’s Enjoy, have traveled with TBS, remixing and letting a helping hand to various productions. Now they have come out with their follow up album titled Midival Times. I recently received a promo copy of it and was a little skeptic as I put it in my cd player (I was not a big fan of their debut even though I think it has some gems on it).
The first thing I noticed is that this album is a lot more lyrical than I expected. It has an impressive list of supporting musicians and vocalists including Ustad Sultan Khan, Anoushka Shankar and Vishal Vaid. This raised my curiosity and expectations.
Ustad Sultan Khan is featured on the second track called “Saathi”. His vocals are beautifully mixed in with his sarangi compositions and lively beats . Reminds me of “Veli Malarae” from Reflections Vol.1, which I think was one of the stand out tracks on that album. Anoushka Shankar with her sitar on “Rebirth” is in top form and is the star of the track. “136” offers us a high energy track with Vishal Vaid’s bols and Ajay Naidu’s rhymes. “Khayaal” has Vishal Vaid singing a ghazal by a chill out beat that is not overpowering and the focus is definitely the vocals. This along with “Rebirth” is destined to be on numerous lounge and chill out compilations in the years to come.
The second half of the album gets more fast paced and high energy with Kesariya, also featured on the Let’s Enjoy soundtrack kicking it off. This track doesn’t really go anywhere in it’s seven minute journey and you just feel let down by the end of it. “Ali” on the other hand is something else. Kailesh Kher sings this old folk song flawlessly and just as flawless are the PunditZ’s banging beats. You will be tapping your feet and nodding your head in no time. “Hold On” brings the album to a close on a less hectic note and is a perfect closing track with sampling from one of the great movies, Pakeezah. The atmospherics and midtempo beat will calm you down and let you appreciate the tabla interludes.
My only gripes about this album are that with a voice like Abida Parveen, they should have used a longer or different sample to develop “Ranjhan” a little more and give people a chance to really appreciate an outstanding vocalist. “Enemy”, although starting off beautifully, looses its fluidity somewhere halfway between rock guitars and electric drums.
With an impressive list of supporting musicians, immaculate production and attention to detail, the punditz have proved that they are here to stay and have matured as artists. The album is not perfect but damn close. Get this for your collection if you don’t already have it.
Also check out an exclusive video for Ali here.
11. Hold On