Lets just begin by saying that you have probably never heard of anything like Tajdar Junaids music. This doesnt mean that it is too left off the centre and needs exceptional patience and concentration to understand. On the contrary; his music is uplifting, inspirational, melodic and calming and something you can listen to in the background while you go about your life. His songs are like the background score to a day lived fully and in contemplation of the past, present and the future. You cannot help but smile at the soothing and nostalgic tone of his songs.
Tajdar Junaid is a Kolkata-based musician who seems to be born to be a musician. A musical hippie at heart, he draws inspiration from film, literature, art and life for his songs and always strives to combine eastern and western musical sensibilities seamlessly in his music. An immensely talented musician, he taught himself how to play the ukulele, charango and mandolin and uses them extensively in his songs. The blend of such disparate influences with heartfelt and soulful lyrics is what makes his music so unique. You could call his music eccentric, but that would only prejudice you towards it. Listen to his music with an open mind and prepare to be blown away.
An experienced musician, he has tasted the kind of success that most musicians can only dream of. He has created music for documentaries, TV programs and theatre productions. More importantly, his music has been featured on the soundtracks of movies by legendary filmmakers like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap. His immense talent has also led him to work with acclaimed sound engineers like Paul Salty Brincat and collaborate with composer Michael Yezersky on the soundtrack for The Waiting City. Apart from enjoying mainstream success, he has collaborated with a host of local and international artists like Karsh Kale, Fred White, Greg Johnson and Amyt Datta. It is no wonder that his music does not fall squarely into one category and manages to straddle various genres without a hitch. Although he is a multi-instrumentalist, he seems most comfortable and proficient with a guitar and uses it to great effect on his songs.
However, having played for many years with numerous bands across various genres, he decided to quit the mainstream music scene all together, disillusioned by the commercialization. He even went so far as to take a complete break from the music scene to cleanse his musical palate and find inspiration. He spent his sabbatical obsessively listening to music by artists that have inspired him, learning to play new instruments and immersing himself in various art forms to relight his passion for music. All this led to the creation of his debut solo effort What Colour Is Your Raindrop. Tajdar wrote the songs on this album over a period of about four years and the album is an insight into his life and his story.
According to him, the album is a collection of ten stories about him and the title What Colour Is Your Raindrop seems to ask the listener to think about his/her story. Tajdar was particularly influenced by the music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Albert King and Iranian cinema while he was working on the album,which allowed him to create an album that reeks of his rejuvenated passion for music. When he felt he was lacking in some way and needed help expressing what he was feeling, he collaborated with other artists in an effort to make each song as true to his feelings as possible. The album features 18 artists from around the world playing more than a dozen various instruments such as the sarangi, oboe, paino, sarod,charango, duduk and Glockenspiel.
Only a musical genius like Tajdar can allow so many different influences on his album without it becoming chaotic and the songs becoming disconnected. He has managed to reign in the different sounds on his album to create a harmonious mix of different styles and genres without losing the overall theme of the album. As a result, listening to the album is akin to taking a musical journey around the world as well as a trip down memory lane. Tajdar has managed to present various musical styles in a familiar way to his audience. This is probably why the songs on the album are already so successful with two of them being featured on the movie Sold produced by Emma Thompson an achievement very few other artists can claim. Calming and poignant, listening to this album is like breathing in the smell of the earth after a shower.
The whole album has a very hippie feel to it and focuses more on the music rather than the lyrics to convey emotions. Also, this is probably one of the very few albums I have heard that has so many fully-instrumental tracks. The music on the album is simplistic and positive, devoid of drama, soulful and easy on the ears.
The album begins with the track Though I Know- written as a farewell song for one of Tajdars closest friends. This track is more folksy and pop-rock with a great twangy intro. Tajdar brings through the sadness of parting with his vocals, which contrasts well with the string instruments. With lyrics like The wind is blowing, but it wont carry my prayers to you, the track could have become very melodramatic and sad. Instead, the song is slightly bittersweet and just a tad melancholic. This song features a host of plucked string instruments and is a very sing-along track.
Aisle, the next track on the album, is inspired by the process of introspection and reflection and just being with ones thoughts. It is a peaceful instrumental track switching between uplifting and brooding moods. The harmonium in the intro can be quite jarring but the track soon mellows out into a guitar and violin dominated song. As a listener, you will not miss the lyrics as the music is so emotive.
The album then moves onto another instrumental song Dastaan. This charango is heavily featured in this song and the track is a very atmospheric song. It is one of the darker and more depressing tracks on the album and is one of the songs featured in the movie Sold. Tajdar has left a lot of pauses and blank spaces in the song to give people the time to think about their stories. One of my favourites on the album, the song becomes particularly emotional when the sarangi kicks in.
The next track Mockingbird is in complete contrast to the previous track. The music is uplifting although the lyrics talk about being in two minds about a relationship. It features guest vocals by Greg Johnson, one of the artists that Tajdar Junaid considers an inspiration. The vocals are great, but the sarangi stands out like a sore thumb in an otherwise pop-rock track. The song could have been much better if the Hindustani classical component had been toned down a bit.
This is followed by the title track What Colour Is Your Raindrop, a nice acoustic and light track with no lyrics just light humming by Tajdar. This song is dominated by the guitar and the djembe and is particularly laidback. This is another instrumental track designed to put the listener in a reflective mood. Unlike the previous track, the sarangi goes very well here and lends a nostalgic tone to the song. However, this track is meant to be interpreted differently by different listeners so feel free to draw your own conclusions.
The First Year is somewhat similar to Dastaan, but is more orchestral and theatrical. This track progresses beautifully and builds up slowly with the violin, viola, sarangi and cello making the song grand and atmospheric. Like Dastaan, it is another favourite and one of the more melancholic and moody songs on the album and was the last song to be recorded for the album. Another instrumental track, it toys with ones mood bringing up angsty and darker emotions unlike most of the other uplifting tracks on the album.
Ekta Golpo is the only Bengali track on the album and as the title suggests, this song talks about a story of a king with eight horses. A fun track featuring vocals by Anusheh Anadil and Satyaki Banerjee and it has a very Baul feel to it with the Baul influence being very clear from the get-go. ´Ekta Golpo is a great break from the other mellower tracks and it is memorable just by being so different.
The album changes tempo with the lullaby Aamna, a track that Tajdar says he wrote for his niece. One can only imagine how musically inclined his niece will grow up to be if this track is her regular lullaby! A soulful instrumental track composed entirely on the acoustic guitar. However, in an album with so many instrumental tracks, Aamna does tend to disappear.
Prelude to Poland is yet another instrumental track but is far more western classical in nature than the rest of the album. Also, unlike the other tracks, the piano has been used to great effect in this song. Beginning languidly and solemnly, the track grows steadily ominous and chaotic and lifts up again ending on a quieter note.
The last track on this album is ´Yadon Ki Pari a beautiful homage to his father. Tajdars father can be heard reciting one of his Urdu poems in the intro, which is innovative and interesting. The poetry suddenly gives way to the drums, which give the track a very rock and roll feel. With the inclusion of heavy distortions, this track changes tempo and is the most rock-influenced song on the album. It is interspersed with recordings of his father reading poetry accompanied by some melodic violins. Overall, it is a very fitting end to this album and sounds almost like a celebration on having put out such a great collection of tracks.