Magix 'n' Curses
..the argument continues

Monday, October 03, 2011

Tum Ko - Rockstar

The first time I listened to the album, I remember allowing a thought to flit through my mind - that Tum Ko was probably the only weak link in an otherwise near flawless album. Rahman, as he has done innumerable times before, proved just how wrong I was. If there is one thing I'm thankful for, it's my habit of looping the entire album instead of looping specific songs. The sudden "aha" moments that you encounter from the least expected places are what I live for. Such instances are what makes listening to Rahman such a joy. From "weak link", Tum Ko has risen rather swiftly in my estimation. I wouldn't be too surprised if it ends up becoming my favourite track of the album within a week.

RGV (in a rather brilliant piece on Rahman) had once observed that Rahman's orchestration seems to rise from the depth of the singer's voice. I could see what he was talking about in Tum Ko. The soft strings in the background, as Kavita Subramaniam croons the first few lines in a breathy voice, give way to the absolutely divine sarangi. For a very brief moment her voice branches out from the sarangi as she continues to hum along. Sheer magic.

There's something about the sarangi that allows it to bypass normal channels (of being processed by the brain) and finds its way straight to your heart. (insert predictable pun on marketing it to the West as heartstrings)

And those tablas. How does Rahman make them sound so unique? Remember the brilliantly placed tabla bits in Kilimanjaro? I'd developed a sort of aversion to tablas as I got increasingly frustrated with the tedious dinkchak beats in hindi music through the 90s. But under his helm, they seem to have their own quirks, their own character almost. The flourishes in Tum Ko have a mind of their own as they stop and start without warning. If that interlude hadn't knocked you breathless yet, Rahman throws in (or simulates) a panflute for good measure. Out for the count. I could play this song on an unending loop just for this interlude.

Her tremendous vocal depth carries the song along to the end. The way each line is completed without allowing it to taper away, the way the full depth of her voice kicks in as it hangs in the air for a fraction of a second longer than you expect it to... makes me wish I'd learnt music just to be able to appreciate it better. And to know what to say :)