Velo Sound Station is the newest kid on the block sporting shiny kicks and fresh talent, but is it living up to the hype?
Pakistan's music scene has been undergoing a revival in the last decade with Coke Studio, Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Nescafe Basement and other music platforms showcasing their creative efforts in innovative, experimental ways.
Add to that the recently launched Velo Sound Station and there’s a game-changer in the mix.
A welcome inclusion to the entertainment industry
In the past few weeks since Velo Sound Station came to town, there has been considerable talk of the 'new guy', mostly good, some bad and a few arguing its connection with a nicotine product - and the subsequent decision of artists to come onboard, the irrelevance of a live audience, and why all the songs are not originals.
But these seem a bit excessive, after all we’re here for the music.
That said, Velo Sound Station brings healthy competition to the table, plus it's producing a range of genres, both a win-win. As long as the brand is not blatantly marketing or asking artists to endorse their product on the platform, does it matter?
But then again if netizens can argue a harmless biscuit ad is vulgar, there really is little hope for the rest.
Among the nitpicking is also the comparison of Velo Sound Station with Coke Studio, which is unfair as the former has only just entered the arena and the latter has been around for more than a decade; CS is a more experienced platform and frankly the contrast is premature given that Velo Sound Station has hardly even released half of its episodes for this season.
Also, there is always room for more music, we're here to encourage growth, not stunt it.
On to the main bit.
Pop the music
Velo Sound Station, produced by veteran artist Bilal Maqsood, premiered two weeks ago with Umair Jaswal, Natasha Noorani and Atif Aslam kicking off the first episode. It hit a high note and proved that there is abundant talent, old and new, in the music industry. Let's break it down.
Umair Jaswal's 'Gagar' was the best fit to launch the brand as it brought spirit to the new show, and what better way than to do a remake of a song by one of the pioneers of pop music in Pakistan?
Though some say the song didn't quite do justice to Alamgir's brilliance but the iconic singer's prowess is unparalleled, and Jaswal's rendition was an imaginative composition with a more contemporary spin.
Jaswal's deep voice and punchy dance moves were the energy the electrifying number needed and although the catchy beat makes it hard not to listen to it on repeat, the star of the first episode was undoubtedly Natasha Noorani's 'Baby Baby' for its meticulous composition (take a bow, Maqsood); the fluid transitions and the execution of tension and release was brilliant.
This newcomer called attention to her golden voice adding depth and softness to the groovy number. Noorani owned this Baby and no one could have done it better than her.
And that concludes the pick of the bunch from episode one.
Then comes Atif Aslam's 'Kadi Te Hans' which was melodic and a bold remake attempt. The song was not a favourite, however, the artist’s impressive display of vocal range underpinned the song.
The promising first episode set high expectations for the following one, but the second episode featuring Aima Baig, Shamoon Ismail and Strings, fell short even though it presented original songs with striking music styles.
Aima Baig's 'Tu Quiero Mucho' was a sweeping number. Unlike many local songs that feature a foreign touch, surprisingly Baig's alluring Latin inspiration did not come across as trying too hard. Major props to her delicate yet charismatic voice coupled with the dramatic musical arrangement.
Speaking of language, Shamoon Ismail's 'Confetti' was a vibe. The novel piece had a gripping hook, a trippy feel and Ismail's signature style written all over it.
The singer's seamless segue between bridges is praiseworthy and this number may just become the it song blaring out of cars because it's funky, playful and retro.
Coming to the final act of the episode, Strings' 'Pyaar Ka Rog' was a clear nod to the 80s with an experimental use of synthwave. The musical arrangement was in harmony with Faisal Kapadia's smooth vocals and the overall way it was stylised worked well. That said, it was nothing to write home about.
Of the six releases, Noorani, Jaswal and Ismail leave a lasting impression and dare I say, the others almost pale in comparison - to be fair, the experienced artists (Aslam and Strings) are held to a higher standard.
Two episodes down and Velo Sound Station is proving a worthy contender with its fresh take on music and signing on of notable talent. The only hope is that future offerings continue to build on the standard and are just as adventurous or more.
Surely, Velo Sound Station has proven it is not just any kid on the block.