Kamijee 'Jeevan' Review by Aman Hassan
Today I am very excited to reveal to you something that I call a true master piece in music.
On July 3rd Kami Jee(Kamran Khan) released his highly anticipated solo album titled "Jeevan". "Jeevan" in english pretty much means "life".The title really does complete justice to the music inside the record.
The album clocks around 49.3 minutes with some of the most experimental yet perfectly gelled instruments working in unison with one another. The poetry on the album is nothing short of excellence in its own right. Before I get in to describing what your ears will feast upon , a little background on Kami Jee is definitely in need.
Kami Jee to many true music appreciators in Pakistan is not a new name. This man has been working behind many of Pakistan's most well renowned names during the 90s. The list of artists he has been associated with is pretty huge to mention in this review.A few things he has worked on are Junaid Jamsheds Solo album "Us Rah Par",the title track for the movie "Rakht"which he composed with guitar virtuoso Nabeel Nihal Chisty,his musical works on the super hit movie "Khuda Ke Liye" in collaboration with Shoaib Mansoor etc.Kami Jee is not just a gifted composer but a proficient Pianist/Keyboardist. During his time in Pakistan he was one of the most prominent session keyboard players you would see at most of the live gigs or in recording sessions for many solo artists during those days.
Besides being a creative and powerful force for many artists behind the scenes he finally made his onscreen appearance in one of the biggest musical events in Pakistan during 2002 called "Pepsi Battle Of The Bands". The competition had bands from all over Pakistan;the competition included a huge pool of talented musicians out of which the winner was an exceptionally good four piece band by the name of "Aaroh". The band "Aaroh" meaning Ascending order in musical terms was a band formed by Guitarist Nabeel Nihal Chisty and none other than Kami Jee on Piano/Keyboards. The bands lead vocalist was Farooq Ahmed and on Bass there was Khalid Khan. The band came out with a very memorable record which to this day I listen to and absolutely adore titled "Sawaal". Sawaal showed the first citing of pure creativity of Kami Jee and Nabeel Nihal composing absolutely beautiful and memorable riffs and melodies.
Due to issues best known to them,Kami Jee and Nabeel Nihal departed from the band. A lot of fans that were followers of Aaroh were quiet disappointed with the end of what can easily be called one of the greatest bands in Pakistan. Aaroh continues without its founding members,regardless of this loss, as they say with the end of something good comes something even greater,and Kami Jee's debut album proves this statement clearly.
Let's get in to the songs in their respective orders.
This is the title track of the album. I heard this back in 2009 when it came out as an internet release and I was absolutely not surprised by the beauty of this track.The lyrics have been written by Ovais Suhail and Kami Jee.This is one of those tracks that describes perfectly the loss of someone that means a lot to you in your life. Kami Jee's polished ears pick out the perfect notes of melancholy on this track. The blend of guitars,bass,flute,and drums is beautifully gelled in with one another. Rahat Ali ,a very talented vocalist and flute player, has done a marvelous job on this track. The guitars were also very well presented. Sayyam Rana is truly a gifted guitar player and he completely shows that on this track. When I initially heard his stuff in his band "Gurus Trilogy" I didn't take much notice of his playing but on this record "Jeevan" he has certainly made me a fan;more about his fantastic playing as we move forward to the other fantastic songs on this record.
2. Tum Ho Khafa-
This track has a beautiful intro with Kami Jee's beautiful Keyboard synths and then a beautiful unison section of Guitars and Flute. Sayyam Rana and Rahat Ali play a few notes,all perfectly placed during the intro. Then Ali Razas melodious vocals make this song even more epic. Kami Jee has written beautiful guitar parts for this song specially the Chordal structure of this song is so harmonious it would just make you feel like as if you are walking on top of water,you would actually get that feeling when you listen to this track with your eyes closed. At least that is the feeling I get when I hear this track. One thing I really liked about the way Kami Jee composed the guitar solo for this track is how he balances virtuosity with musical beauty effortlessly, Sayyam does complete justice to Kami Jee's composition. What makes this song even more special is that the lyrics have been written by a very creative mind from Pakistan who has worked on all sorts of projects from Dramas to big Music Productions etc;I am talking about none other than the great Shoaib Mansoor. His beautiful poetry gives even a brighter light to Kami Jee's beautiful composition. All in all a beautiful romantic number.
This song has a very interesting intro as well. It starts with some wonderful sitar lines played by Ustad Imdad Hussain in Raaga Charukeishi and then the Guitars,Bass,and Drums come in transitioning the track in to Raaga Jog. The bass work on this track is exceptionally good. It's very well presented by Zeeshan;Zeeshan is also one of the big session names in Pakistan and Kami Jee's experienced ears picked the right man for the right job. The song is a perfect representation of a creatures life on this earth and it beautifully describes the course of life in this world. Kami Jee and Ovais Suhail once again wrote beautiful poetry for this track.
4. Na Janay:
This song is absolutely beautiful. The beginning of this song reflect shades of Raaga Kaushak Dhun. Kami Jee has embroidered Eastern and Western music perfectly on this track. The beauty about this track is it's got your basic Drums,Bass,Guitars,and Vocal arrangement but what makes it absolutely stunning is how Kami Jee has presented it. The Chordal structure is really harmonious and some of my favorite chords have been used in this song. If you like big ringing chords, this track would certainly please you. Sayyam does justice to the song once again with his well balanced and intricate playing. The guitar solo in this track is probably one of my favorites from the album;Sayyam played some great bass on this track as well. This song has been sung beautifully by Glenn Silverious John- he is truly a very gifted vocalist. This song is one of those songs that would leave a lasting impression on you and would strike a nerve in your mind and heart in one way or the other. The way I look at it is that whoever listens to this song would have their own outlook from the song-that is the beauty of this song. To me personally,the feeling I got from this song was as if someone is asking questions about their life from him/herself. A perfect example of Soul searching for me.
Now here is a song that isn't very new to me but I still love this song as much as I did when I had heard it first. I heard this track some years back;initially this was sung by Dilara Khan who co-wrote the lyrics for this track. Then last year this came out as a single and this time I heard a new side of this song. A very talented song writer Arooj Aftab re-sang this; Arooj attended Berklee College Of Music and to my knowledge now is a graduate from the school. The song is basically about love,betrayal,and pain. What sets it apart from other songs based on this theme are the straight up lyrics,melancholic vocals,groovy bass,dark yet subtle guitars,beautifully harmonized violin sections by Saleem,and the only track that has been sung in English on the album.Kami Jee does his magic once again on this one.
6.You And Me-
WOW I mean just wow! This a beautiful instrumental and a very unique one as well. You and me comprises of Imdad Hussains Sitar playing and Saleems Violin playing. This track is epic! the feeling it will give you is of complete peace and serenity. It's like a spiritual communication between the human and its creator. Kami Jee has wonderfully portrayed spirituality on this track. One of my favorite instrumentals for sure!
Here we have another beautiful spiritual track. Rahat Ali does his magic once again with vocals on this one. The starting Vocal Melody is derived from the title track of Aaroh's debut album "Sawaal". As we move along in to this track it completely changes its mood:you would feel a surge of energy going in to your body and you would feel as if you are in another world when you listen to this track.This track has a very unique character due to the beautiful usage of Oud guitars being played by maestro Naser Musa,which gives it an outstanding personality. This is a very well thought out piece of music; I truly believe this a beautiful tribute to Hazrat Ali(R.A).
8. Yeh Shaam
- Yeh Shaam is such a treat to listen to. This song is originally by the pop legends of Pakistan "Vital Signs" comprising of three prominent members:
Other associated members with Vital Signs have been Nusrat Hussain,Salman Ahmed,Rizwan Ul Haq,and Aamir Zaki ,who were the guitar players for the band during different time periods.
I remember hearing the cover of "Ajnabi" by Aaroh,which is another Vital Signs classic. I remember how the song was given new depth due to Kami Jee's and Nabil Chisty's input in it. So I was totally stoked to hear what Kami Jee did with "Yeh Shaam" and I can tell you his arrangement of this song is nothing short of excellent. I remember getting out of the music store yesterday and placing "Jeevan" inside my cars disc player and after hearing 2 tracks in order,I directly went on to this rendition of Yeh Shaam. The beautiful intro of Sayyams Guitar,going in to the beautiful and perfect notes of the flute played by Sajid told me right away how epic this entire rendition would be. As I kept listening I noticed the Bass was beautifully arranged by Kami Jee and played by Sayyam. Sayyam did an outstanding job on both bass and guitar on this track. The guitar solo is absolutely epic in this and Hamza Jameel does complete justice to the vocals. All in all this is by far the best Vital Signs cover I have heard so far. Kami Jee has given this song a completely new light and most of you Vital Signs fans would be delighted to hear this.
If you like techno,then this track is for you. I already explained how the original Jeevan is. I am not really a big fan of electronic music/techno. But to my surprise this club version in collaboration with DJ Ali Mustafa is absolutely great. Sayyam Rana on guitars once again keeping everything in balance to keep the original charm of the song. I really liked how Kami Jee balanced the whole Club/Techno environment with guitars still in its place. Rahat Ali plays some new notes with his flute on this as well and they sound perfectly in place. I would call this effort a complete experimental success.
Kami Jee has finally decided to end the album with a beautiful thanks to the all mighty Allah(God). This song is pretty much a Hamd. Hamds are Islamic/Religious songs in praise of God. The legendary Junaid Jamshed sings this song beautifully conveying Kami Jee's lyrics and musical concept behind it with full passion and honesty. The backing vocals by Glenn John give this song a very unique character as well and I can say Kami Jee has beautifully arranged this track. All in all a wonderful full circle ending to an epic album.
is a gift for all true music appreciators and Kami Jee has done an outstanding job fusing all sorts of elements/harmonies in one place. This is what I call complete fusion with a combination of Eastern classical harmonies,outstanding flute lines,usage of exotic instruments like the Oud,beautiful western harmonies conveyed through the guitar,outstanding pool of unique vocalists,beautiful poetry,and wonderfully programmed Western/Eastern percussion makes this album a wonderful representation of "World Music" and a must- listen.
Kami Jee's Jeevan has to be one of the best albums to come out in Pakistan and this effort by the genius would be remembered for years.
Musicians On This album:
Guitars: Sayyam Rana
Bass:Zeeshan Khan/Sayyam Rana
Oud Guitars:Naser Musa
Vocals: Junaid Jamshed,Glen John,Rahat Ali,Mohd Ali,Ali Raza,Arooj Aftab,Hamza Jameel.
Lyrics:Ovais Suhail,Kamijee,Dilara/Arooj,Shoaib Mansoor.
All music arranged,programmed,conducted,mixed,engineered,and produced by Kami Jee aka Kamran Khan.