Tag Archives: Khalid Ahmed

Parvaaz gears up for the launch of their album ‘Baran’

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They have one of the most distinguishable sounds emerging from the indie music scene in the land, and to top it if, they decide to lace their music with a generous helping of Urdu and Kashmiri lyrics which turn the Parvaaz album experience into a sort of bass-plated, high-octane guitar encrusted qawwali-esque pantomime. Don’t get us wrong, they are incredible, and certainly not stereotypical. Commonly categorised as Sufi rock, they are clearly influenced by psychedelic  overtones, and a very serious attention to lock-and-loop groove, especially in songs like ‘Itne Arsey Ke Baad’ which has a mounting guitar solo in the midst of a smooth, post-jazzy ambience. “Our music is a perpetual process of combining various ideas into one single piece of expression,” says the band.

There’s no doubt about it, Khalid Ahmed is the crowning jewel of Parvaaz. Not that we mean to, in any way, downplay the other members. Kashif Iqbal is a devil with that winding guitar which edges its way between the caressing words, each lapping into the other in a glorious flow of lilting, honeyed rock with somehow perfectly matches a paced, powerful beat and an encompassing interplay of sound which seems to encase the lyrics like a cushion. Fidel D’Souza is a bit of a jack-in-the-box, subdued and almost shadowy for the most part, with sudden jumps at a magnificent stretch of bass before ninja-ing back into accompaniment.  Sachin Banadur? He makes drumwork sound way too easy considering that he transitions from beat to beat with the ease of a cat. A ninja cat.

After their incredibly acclaimed releases ‘Dil Khush’ and ‘Behosh’, the guys return with a sort of culmination of their musical history in ‘Baran’.  Think of it as some kind of evolutionary destination which will narrate the saga of Parvaaz. Not much has been given away,  but Sanjeev Nayak from Swarathma is collaborating on one of the tracks with his violin, which is a treat in itself. When asked about their upcoming album, the band says, “Baran contains mostly our material we’ve been performing live for quite some time now, songs come together as work moves towards reaching a primary shape to the work.” To commemorate this album release, which is clearly iconic to them as a band and to all Parvaaz bands, the guys are kicking off a launch tour. The dates are as follows :

13th Aug: High Spirits, Pune;

14th Aug – Blue Frog, Mumbai

17th Aug: Museum Theatre, Chennai

6th September – Counterculture, Bangalore

CDs and merchandise will be available at all the venues, which is awesome news for all of us because really, people, we love the band far too much to not be supporting their astounding musical coming-of-age, right?

Find more information on their Facebook page :   https://www.facebook.com/parvaazmusic/timeline

Or stroll over to their bandcamp page from some amazing memories of what they are capable of : http://parvaaz.bandcamp.com/

Shreya Bose

Shreya Bose is an English grad who is rethinking her dedication to academia and trying to figure out the secret to personal sanity. Currently, writing seems like the only activity that offers both inspiration and catharsis. When free, she overdoses on Yukio Mishima and Kahlua.

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An Ode To The Blues feat. Blues Conscience, Hard Enough at CounterCulture, Bangalore

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Aditya Vishwanathan

Aditya Vishwanathan is a creative photographer from Bangalore. After being actively involved with multiple bands in the music circuit, he now documents gigs in and around town. In his free time, he loves to play with kids while listening to an old Michael Jackson album.

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Parvaaz at BFlat Bar, Bangalore

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Gaurrav Tiwari

Drummer at DIARCHY, and HR Manager at Genpact

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Behosh by Parvaaz

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Way back when in the year 2011, I had witnessed a live performance by Parvaaz at Legends of Rock, the audience was informed that Parvaaz was a Psychedelic, Sufi rock band from Bangalore and that they sang most of their songs in Urdu and Kashmiri. I distinctly remember hearing an audible moan from a metalhead a few tables away. Although most of us did not understand the lyrics, needless to say, by the end of the show the band had managed to turn us all into rabid fans with their amazing stage presence and lead singer, Khalid Ahmed’s explosive vocals.

With a number of “fusion music” acts such as The Raghu Dixit Project, Swarathma and Emergence making it big in India and beyond, the time is ripe for Parvaaz to be the next big thing. Their soulful, psychedelic rock, powerful vocals and eloquent lyrics are guaranteed to take them places. Although they are mistakenly categorized as a “Sufi-Rock” band because of their Urdu and Kashmiri lyrics they strive to shake-off all stereotypes and are hard to typecast into any genre. Parvaaz is a pioneer in the Bangalore music scene with their vibrant songs; deep, meaningful lyrics written in an unfamiliar language and unmatched vocals and stage presence.

Parvaaz (which means “flight” in Urdu) came to be in March 2010 when two of the three original members and childhood friends- Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal reunited in Bangalore while they were studying here. The band is truly a brainchild of these two talented musicians from Kashmir. After one of their original members and bassist Neil Simon, Rhythm guitarist Adarsh Deokota and drummer Somarshi Bhattacharya were not able to continue with the band, Parvaaz settled into its current line-up with Khalid Ahmed on vocals, Kashif Iqbal on lead guitar, Fidel D’Souza on Bass and Sachin Banandur on Drums. It is not an exaggeration to claim that Khalid Ahmed has the strongest vocals and best showmanship of all the lead singers out there in India. Their songs and live performances have distinguished them from the rest of the herd. Parvaaz’s electrifying performances led them to win numerous college fests and they have been steadily gaining popularity since their performance at the Fireflies Festival of Music and Arts in Bangalore in 2011.

After much speculation and doubt, the band released their debut E.P. called Behosh on 13th July, 2012 and if this is to be considered a teaser for their planned album then nothing short of extraordinary can be expected from their album. Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal have penned the lyrics for all the tracks on this album in Urdu and Kashmiri, as is the case with the rest of their songs, and are unapologetic about it. They write and sing in the language they find comfortable and anything else would seem unnatural. Their sound incorporates elements of Sufi, Jazz, Blues and Psychedelic rock beautifully without being unpalatable to mainstream audiences. One can get a sense of their confident, electrifying and unabashed live performances from the five tracks that they have chosen to put in this E.P. As the band puts it, they want their listeners to lose themselves completely to the music and quite literally become “Behosh”. All the tracks on Behosh contain mesmerizing instrumental interludes and deep soulful lyrics. A sense of nostalgia and melancholy pervades the album and they have managed to create a seamless flow from song to song. Behosh starts off with a funky, psychedelic sound and progressively becomes more peaceful and melancholic.

‘Behosh’, the title track, begins with a funky, ominous, psychedelic bass section and leads into the vocal acrobatics of Khalid Ahmed. This track is a perfect mix of Psychedelic rock and blues with the addition of amazing vocals. The guitar solo section followed by the Harmonica interlude provided by Jerome Mascarenhas really drives home the blues influence on this track. Just when you thought the song would end quite tamely, the frontman’s oft mentioned amazing vocals kick in and the song ends in a glorious flourish.

‘Marika’ immediately shocks you with an almost primal scream. Written for a female friend of theirs, named Marika, from Norway, the song contains some great instrumental sections like the previous track. This track is a delicious mélange of frenzied vocals and guitar riffs accentuated by the brazen laughter track thrown in. A very memorable song as I instantly recognized it from their live performance a year back. ‘Marika’ is sure to get your pulse going with its racy drums, suggestive lyrics and energetic lead guitar.

After the first two energetic pieces, the E.P moves onto a mellower ‘Itne Arsey ke Baad’. Penned after Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal met their friends from back home, this song captures the heartbreaking distance from and the fervent longing for their homeland. The lazy, bluesy music belies the intensely nostalgic and heart wrenching lyrics. If you are not suffering from melancholia, you might just end up leaning back, closing your eyes and enjoying this relaxed tune and forgetting all about the otherwise heavy subject matter.

‘Dil Khush’, literally translated as “happy heart” is an uplifting tune and is the longest track on the E.P clocking in at over eight minutes. It celebrates the joie de vivre that comes from blissful ignorance. The sound of rain welcomes you to this optimistic track with its thumping bass line and brilliant guitar dominated interlude. I might be prudish to admit that I did not particularly like the three minute drum solo. Maybe they got a bit carried away with the theme of celebrating life with this drum solo as it seems disjointed from the rest of the song and unpleasantly jolts you right when you are getting into the groove of the song. Kashif Iqbal’s delightful guitar riffs and unrestrained playing are the high points of this track.

At last, my favourite song of the album- ‘Lolmatlai’ is trippy, soothing, utterly beautiful and an appropriate end to this album. Listening to this track one can’t help but compare Khalid Ahmed to the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This track is fully written in Kashmiri and speaks of the object of one’s love. ‘Lolmatlai’ instantly transports you to another worldly and ethereal place (should I daresay Kashmir!) and I couldn’t help but lament at how short this track was. The dramatic and orchestral sound achieved by the deep bass, guitar strumming and percussions does not distract from the clean, breathtaking vocals on this track.

Behosh is a succinct sample of Parvaaz’s body of work and a perfect reminder as to why Parvaaz has such a large fan base. The five tracks on this E.P cover varied topics and musical styles and yet do not seem haphazardly placed. They have managed to capture the energy of their live performances in this near perfect E.P. Enough cannot be said about Khalid Ahmed’s vocals; passionate, perfectly enunciated and unmatched in power and complexity; no other lead singer can hold a candle to him. Each track on the album is a harmonious blend of ridiculously good vocals and beautiful instrumental pauses and to truly enjoy this E.P I will repeat what was suggested to me- lock yourself up in a dark and tranquil room, close your eyes and listen.

The band members financed the E.P themselves and produced it on a shoe string budget and a lot of hard work. So yes, their music is awesome and yes, it is tempting to download it illegally but don’t be a nasty freeloader and buy the E.P which is now available on Flipkart as well as digitally on  OkListen. Enjoy the music and the beautiful album artwork. Also, as you wait for their upcoming album with unbridled enthusiasm make sure to watch them live; which is the best way to witness the phenomenon that is Parvaaz.

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Anusmita Datta

Anusmita Datta is an ardent day-dreamer, music lover, die-hard foodie and occasional writer. Her obsession with pandas is sometimes disturbing and she can be often found lusting after momos!

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Parvaaz at Italia, Bangalore

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The Hindi-rock genre has been much maligned in the recent past. A large percentage of the output that’s clubbed (sometimes unfairly) under this sub-genre is the MTV-friendly dreck that you hear on your local radio station during peak-hour traffic. Enter Parvaaz – their official bio steers clear of the H-word and classifies them as “blues/psychedelic rock”. One listen to their music and you realize that Parvaaz are indeed a band that are deeply rooted in 70s Brit blues-rock, with the added twist of Hindi/Urdu/Kashmiri lyrics.

The venue – Italia – known more for its vegetarian Italian food (!) than its live music, provided the setting for an intimate, smoke-free gig. Parvaaz, joined by their new bassist Fidel D’Souza, started their set with a swirling, post-rock influenced jam which was the furthest they deviated from their signature blues sound during their set. The band quickly settled into their groove with ‘Itne Arse ke Bad’, a number that managed to sound psychedelic and dirty simultaneously. Set-highlight – Behosh’s riff had all the swagger of Mick Jagger in his pomp and a thumping bassline that was catchier than a rickroll. A feature of Parvaaz’s setlist was their uber-groovy bass lines ably performed by Fidel. Frontman Khalid Ahmed’s quiet demeanour betrayed him at one point when he mentioned that the feedback he often received was that he did not interact with the audience enough whilst on stage. Ironically that proved to be his only substantial interaction with the sparse 40-odd people seated at the venue.

Their set also featured their debut single ‘Dil Kush’ which starts off like all good debut songs should but then had the audacity to have an indulgent and out-of-place 3 minute drum-solo section in it. ‘Marika’ was another song featured that began with promise but then petered out and ran out of useful ideas before it reached its conclusion. The catchy ‘Azaadi’, about freedom and the lack of it in India, was the penultimate song of the gig and it finally got some heads-a-bobbing and lips-a-moving in the crowd. The wonderfully written ‘Ziyankaar Pt I’ was the fitting finale to this short concert. The song used a repetitive two-note bass line in the verse and some arpeggiated chords over it to build an eerie sense of guilt which perfectly complimented Khalid’s vocals on this track. Guitarist Kashif Iqbal was tight without being overly flashy and had a lovely guitar tone although certain chord patterns he used seemed to repeat in a few songs.

This fledgling band seems to have gone through quite a cycle during their short tenure in the music scene. From playing small-time college fests to winning the prestigious B-School of Rock at IIM-B earlier this year, they’ve come a long way. Vocalist Khalid is one of those talents that can effortlessly transition from a passionate Urdu couplet to a high-pitched, primal shriek. (Listen here at the 8.02 mark. yes that’s his voice!) 2012 probably has a lot in store for them. Only word of advice: fewer drum solos please.

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Sohan Maheshwar

Jack of all tirades, total shirk-off. Follow Sohan on twitter! @soganmageshwar

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