Strings : Koi Aanay Wala Hai (ACD)
Complete list of tracks
Review: From THE NEWS, Sunday, March 16, 2008
No it's not called Dhoop. The next Strings album is tantalizingly called Koi Aanay Wala Hai. It's an apt name for the most anticipated album of the year.
Strings, as one music aficionado put it recently now fall into the category of "classic". This Strings fan is well into his 50s. With their melody, lyrics by Anwar Maqsood and a signature style that they have never veered from, Strings have become a listening habit in Pakistan. And they've penetrated so deep into our consciousness that they're not going anywhere.
Strings are all about consistency and a mellow attitude that they have made uniquely their own. They are not about 'Garaj Baras' and are definitely not scratching their heads and wondering 'Hum Kis Gali Jaa Rahe Hain'? Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood are self assured, co-pilots of the enterprise that is the Strings and they're cruising along hitting all the right notes and that too all over the sub-continent!
Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood have long been the most chilled out guys in the music industry. They occupy their own world. Both are happily married to the women they fell in love with years ago and have children; Bilal, three and Faisal, two. And they have never been into making statements. They don't take up political causes. They will do a 'Beirut' but they won't tom-tom the fact all over the place. They do what they do and they do it well, but they do it very quietly, so at the end of it, all you hear is the music.
'Koi Aanay Wala Hai', the song starts off from where the excellent 'Aakhri Alvida' left off. This album sees a reinvention of the Strings. There are breaks between rhythm and melodic bridges that reach to a crescendo and then goes around for another spin. It's a definite departure from Duur and Dhaani. The music is more rocking, the sound is definitely edgier, but it doesn't sound like a whole new band. Faisal and Bilal know the Strings signature well and they stick to it.
"I look at us as a brand like Nike," says Bilal. "Strings are a brand and there is a philosophy behind it. We know what we have to do."
Faisal easily takes over from Bilal and launches into the story of the shooting of the 'Aakhri Alvida' video. "We were shooting on the sets of the film and you remember the scene with guns on display?" he asks unassumingly. Who would forget the 'Aakhri Alvida' video? It was a breakthrough lesson in how Pakistani musicians can use Bollywood for their own advantage.
"Well originally Sanjay Gupta, the director, wanted us to play with the guns, load them and stuff," continues Faisal in that husky baritone. "I was very excited by the idea, but Bilal stopped me saying, 'Do we really want to send out the message to our fans that the Strings are into guns?' I thought about it and decided he was right. Guns are not what Strings are about at all.
"Bilal smiles. There is an easy awareness between them. And music producer Rohail Hyatt who has known them for ages says that they are very easy. Part of their charm he attributes to the "nice boys next door syndrome, which is how they are." Yet he sees them as two separate entities. "They are very different people," he tells Instep. "Which is why when you ask me about them as a unit, I can't answer because I look at them as two very different individuals." According to Rohail, Bilal is the creative mind, while Faisal has the capacity to be very real and the skill to deliver. And the success of the Strings, Rohail attributes to their difference. "They compliment each other very well."
He echoes how Faisal and Bilal describe their relationship. "When one is slipping, the other brings him back on track."
There it is again, the subtlety that has become a trademark of the Strings. It's in their music, it's in the way they talk and it's in the way the way they view the scene and how they choose to play their game. From videos to concerts to music and interviews, it's done with a dignity and grace that's hard to find in the rat race that the burgeoning music scene in Pakistan has become.
Meanwhile offers keep rolling in from across the border and the sky is the limit for them in India, but Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood are holding back. It is more important to be Strings than to be big in Bollywood, which is precisely why they'll manage to do both. It's better that the destination be Duur for two musicians who hold the journey above all else.
Strings : Koi Aanay Wala Hai (ACD)