Ali Zafar – Jhoom (KM Album Review)

February 16, 2011

By Hasan Faridi

It’s not about the King of Pop. It’s all about Pakistan’s Prince of Pop.

Ali Zafar first rose to real fame with his first album Huqa Pani (Shisha water?) in 2003, becoming a instant hit ending up selling around 600,000 copies worldwide and winning several major awards and nominations in the process. The artist then displayed the more mature side of him with the second album Masty (Fun) released in 2006. Looking at the album cover, the only thing that matured was his pecks. But it was an improvement nevertheless.

The new album, Jhoom starts a new chapter.

The album has been mastered at the world famous Abbey Road Studios by Alex Wharton, famous for the likes of The Beatles. Jhoom was released on Valentines Day. As Alif Records distributed the album in Pakistan, Yash Raj Music distributed it to India and the rest of the world.

Jhoom is a Sufi album, and it takes my music to another level,” said Ali Zafar in an interview with KoolMuzone.

Talking about his self-discovery Ali said,

“Self-discovery leads to all other discoveries. During my brief journey through life, of which music gas been an integral part, I have been nothing but fascinated by the process of discovering and learning. It is fascinating that has led to the creation of Jhoom.

Indeed my biggest breakthrough thus far has been that happiness is not related to fame or fortune but to discovering the ‘self’ and its highest potential to serve itself and others in the process.

Jhoom has also been a big learning experience from a technical perspective starting from the time when I began to practice the art of recording, mixing, programming etc in 2007 after I set up my studio namely ‘Alif Studios’.

Since U worked on it mostly by myself learning through trail and error besides interruptions due to my extensive travelling and other engagements, it took me longer in its execution. But I have spent countless days and nights working on it with a hope that it will stand the test of time. I pray that I have succeeded in some measure.”

In his latest album, Ali explored his mystical and mature side by touching upon Sufi and Semi-classical music, and invites the listener to drift into a mystical land of spirit and soul.

Jhoom kicks off with the title track “Jhoom” (Written, composed, arranged and performed by Ali Zafar. Bass by Imran Danish, tabla by Jari, guitars by Ali Zafar), a slow classical track that soothes your senses so much you lose track of time. Seriously. The track is over 6 minutes. The R&B version (Produced by Abhijit Vaghani, Mixed by Aftab Khan) near the end of the album is for those with a more contemporary taste. Nevertheless, the song is all about a traditional love story, and the official video shows that. Expect love throughout the whole album.

“Tu Jaanay Na” (Written and composed by Yousaf Salluddin, arranged and by Ali Zafar and Baqir Abbas. Bass, keys and flute by Baqir Abbas, guitars by Ali Zafar) and “Jab Say Dekha” (Written and composed by Ali Zafar) are exactly that. They are more upbeat tracks, and sound like the types of songs that Junaid Jamshed would sing in the early 90s. Before he started singing Islamic songs that is.

We get to hear great instrumental production in the mellow beautiful tracks “Jee Dhoonta Hai” (By Mirza Ghalib, composed and arranged by Ali Zafar. Bass, drums, key-boards and guitars by Ali Zafar. Additional rhythm guitars by Danyal Zafar), “Koi Umeed” (By Mirza Ghalib, composed by Yousaf Salluddin. All instrumentation programmed, performed and arranged by Ali Zafar) and “Jaan E Man” (Written by Fazal Ahmed Karim Fazli, composed by Nisar Bazmi, orignally sung by Mehdi Hasan. All instrumentation programmed, performed and arranged by Ali Zafar). Classical and contemporary concoctions like this are exactly what Ali is good at. These songs tend to be rather emotional, but it’s not too bad. Not all hope is gone.

Especially with the next number “Nahin Ray Nahin” (Written, composed, arranged and keyboards by Ali Zafar. Performed live at Coke Studio produced by Rohail Hyatt with the Coke Studio house band alongside Baqir Abbas on flute. Mixed by Rohail Hyatt), which is enough to put a smile on your face. If not, just watch the outstanding performance on Coke Studio. Luckily, the album has a total of 4 tracks that were performed on Coke Studio. Forget the box of chocolates or roses, Coke Studio is a real Valentine’s gift.

Yar Dadhi Ishq” (All music performed live at the Coke Studio. Vocal Re-dubbing @ Alif Studios. Orignally sung bu Ustad Jumman Khan) stands out from the crowd. Not only is it so recognizable, but it is the most upbeat song in the album and probably the best song of them all. The variety of Eastern and Western instruments fuse together in perfect harmony like in “Dastan-E-Ishq” (Astai written by Ali Zafar, antras taken as verses from poetry by Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain. Composed by Ali Zafar alongside Baqir Abbas for Coke Studio. Programmed and performed by Ali Zafar as studio version with guitars by Tahir, bass by Imran Danish and flute by Baqir Abbas). The Middle-Eastern vocals at the bridge are perfection and they are so catchy it makes you want to try them. But then you fail.

If you plan on reaching the seventh heaven, without having to take your life (not recommended) listen to the longest track “Allah Hu” (Performed live as a folk fusion @ Coke Studio with Saieen Tufail, produced by Rohail Hyatt), featuring the mind-blowing voice of Tufail Ahmed. Both voices are combined, backed by steady drumbeats, a funky bass and other instruments angels probably play to perfection on the high clouds. One word to describe the song? Magical.

And last but certainly not the least, the album ends with “Dastan-E-Ishq” (Dhol version) (Programmed by Ali Zafar). Although not too different from the original, it now includes the most awesome drum known to man. The Dhol. Without this song, your wedding probably wouldn’t even be complete.

The more you listen to Jhoom, the more you get stuck in. At times it’s lovey-dovey and emotional, and sometimes it’s spiritual, taking you beyond the stars, until comets pelt you and your stuck on Earth again. Although not for the tastes of headbangers and moshpit warriors, Jhoom gives you the original sounds of the Middle East fused with a variety of musical influences Pakistan can be proud of.

Jhoom as we know was released on Valentines Day, a day about love and compassion. But shouldn’t we show love and compassion every single day? Jhoom says exactly that. It’s all about love.