In a country obsessed with cinema and filmy music, it is truly a feat to maintain a loyal fan base with non-film albums. But considering the immense talent and unique music of Kailash Kher and his band Kailasa, it's no surprise they are one of the most popular bands in India. After three memorable and successful albums - Kailasa (2006), Jhoomo Re (2007), and Chaandan Mein (2009) - Kailasa is back with with their new album, Rangeele. As the title suggests, it's a colorful album, but 'colorful' in the way that Kailasa does best - soulful music influenced by folk, sufi and western traditions.
The album doesn't exactly start with a bang, but instead with the melodious, calming and foot-tapping Rangeele. It's just as effective. It's a mostly acoustic song with hints of saxophone and flute that give it a classy flair. It also sets the mood for the rest of the album, which stays melodious with rustic influences blended in.
The next track, Tu Kya Jaane, actually goes one step better than the title track. It's a song about unrequited love and a complete devotion to that love, but remaining fairly upbeat throughout. Kher's soulful voice carries the track through its beautiful arrangement. The cherry on the cake, however, is whenever fellow band members Naresh and Paresh come in with the chorus. The harmony between Kher, Naresh and Paresh works really well, especially the last two minutes of the song where the tempo builds. This one will make you go for repeat listens.
Albeliya starts on a slow piano track, which gradually builds into a rather catchy arrangement. However, the vocals and lyrics don't carry as much gusto as the two previous tracks. The best part here remains the arrangement.
The following track, Yadaan Teriyaan, bears a suspenseful, haunting quality from the very beginning. A song about haunting memories, the orchestration and Kher's vocals have an intensity that works well to evoke a sense of longing. It's one of the instances where Kher proves once again the great versatility of his voice. The Yadaan Teriyaan Acoustic version has a much more somber feel to it, not as intense or haunting. The effect is that of a song that is more sad and dejected, which is not quite as impactful as the original version.
Kher jumps right into Daaro Na Rang, kicking off a beat that calls for almost immediate foot-tapping. The song has a very unique arrangement, blending what seems like Middle Eastern and country western influences with a steady drum beat.
Kathagaan is an incredibly refreshing track in the album. It changes the tone immediately with its peppiness. Kher seems to be having fun with this song, getting into the full spirit of singing a story. It also helps that the arrangement and vocal backing is inspired, adding a new sound to the already diverse Kailasa palette. A fun listen!
The following song, Babbaji, makes a complete flip turn, going for a much more somber mood. It's worth a listen but one of the weaker tracks in the album since it doesn't offer anything too new to the album.
The mood picks up once again with Samvaad (Hudkaan Maan Bitti), a fast-spaced, comical song. Kher once again has fun singing this one, playing with his pitch, tone, and even accents. The song also features a special appearance by Kher's two-year-old son Kabir, whose vocals add a good dose of innocence to the whole track.
One of the special tracks in this album is Dharti Pe Jannat Ka Nazara, which brings in Amitabh Bachchan for a short cameo. However, more than the cameo, the song itself is uplifting, spirited and memorable. As Kher told The NRI in an interview, the song was composed for the show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' (the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'), which would explain Bachchan's cameo and also its generally upbeat feel. It's short and sweet, but makes you want it to be longer.
The album ends with Ujaale Baant Lo, an evocative song that allows Kher to explore his more serious side. The song warns of darkness taking over the world and calls for the spreading of light. It's a meaningful listen but perhaps not the best choice as the final track of an album that has otherwise maintained a colorful, spirited feel throughout.
Kailasa's Rangeele adds another feather in the band's accomplished cap. They retain their unique charm and wonderfully fused music throughout this album as well. As with their previous albums, Rangeele boasts songs that will be remembered down the line, proving once more that Kailasa is one of the best contemporary bands in India today.
For more information on Kailasa's upcoming world tour, visit Saregama Events.