Mekaal Hasan Band
Saptak


4.0
excellent

Review

by OmairSh USER (18 Reviews)
April 19th, 2013 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jazz fusion with Eastern pizzazz

How does the mixture of curry and a beef steak sound? Or chicken vindaloo with scones? Not too tempting I’m guessing, however this fusion between the cultural inclinations of the East and West from a musical perspective can produce some rather delicious results, as shown by the music of the Mekaal Hasan Band.

Mekaal Hasan is one of Pakistan’s most revered musical figures, not only composing music for his own band and his solo work, but also producing the albums of quite a few mainstream artists. He has collaborated with legendary artists including Billy Cobham and Pete Lockett (who features on the closing track of this album) on his solo album as well as his band’s music. He is quite a busy man though unfortunately since the Pakistan music industry isn’t very receptive to music that lies pretty far from the periphery of mainstream pop and rock, artists like Mekaal Hasan, who’re inclined to compose music which is thought provoking and intends to push boundaries, don’t have the comfort of releasing their own albums regularly, and thus he has only managed to release 2 albums since the Mekaal Hasan Band’s inception in 2001.

Musically the band blends the cultural flair of Eastern classical, as is evident from the vocals and flute with both almost completely lying in this domain, with the compositional sensibilities of jazz fusion and hard rock from the Western hemisphere. Subtle nuances of other styles are also sprinkled throughout the record adding that extra dimension to the music. This concoction is birthed thanks to the diverse influences of the members with Mekaal Hasan having been brought up listening to old jazz records and other members of the band being veterans in the Pakistani classical music scene.

Saptak is much more positive in its overall mood as compared to the band’s debut Sampooran and while I certainly don’t mind that, I was hoping for the band to push further with the dark and experimental elements of that album, as they have on the haunting “Albaella”, and also include some guest musicians on the harmonium, tablas and sitar to name a few instruments. On the plus side the band has expanded on some of the funky elements from the previous album to great effect as is evident on “Sanwal” and “Bhagheshwari” with some absolutely great guitar playing and bass lines. There is some experimentation with effects and tones as well when it comes to the guitar and flute, with the piercing high pitched wail of the flute being very innovative and refreshing.

Familiar facets of the music that have returned include the brilliant, purely classical based, vocals of Javed Bashir, with his vocal melodies and infectious vibrato complementing the music in a sublime manner. The musicianship is still terrific, and if not better than before, with the solid rhythm section bringing the groove and laying the perfect foundation for the guitars and flutes which still adeptly play the tasty leads and unisons. I had hoped for the flute to be used more during the rhythm sections as it is used in “Andholan” and “Mahi”, as opposed to being used mainly for the solo sections.

Production and mix wise the album is a definite improvement over its predecessor with a very good balance being achieved between all the instruments without any instrument stepping on the toes of another. The album could have been mixed and mastered at a slightly higher volume to increase the impact of the music, but that’s a minor complaint as all the instruments sound so good you tend to get lost in the rich textures. Another minor gripe is that some of the melodies are repeated a tad too often in certain songs, and that can take away from the novelty of the tunes, some more progressions would have been very much welcomed.

There are pros and cons for almost every album but if the pros outweigh the cons by some margin then you can almost overlook the weaknesses and relish the encouraging aspects of the music as those are what you remember when all is said and done. The band’s follow up is expected to be released this year, with Mekaal Hasan hinting at a more aggressive direction. That sounds good to me, I hope the band treads further through unknown and challenging territories to push the envelope, as long as I get my thirst for quality fusion music quenched regularly I'll be a happy man.

Top Tracks

1. Bhageshwari
2. Huns Dun
3. Waris Shah
4. Albaella



Recent reviews by this author
Lunatic Soul Walking on a Flashlight BeamNo-Man Returning Jesus
Freak Kitchen Cooking With PagansAnders Bjorler Antikythera - Chapter One
Dark Tranquillity Where Death Is Most AliveGong Gazeuse! (Expresso)
user ratings (2)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
OmairSh
April 19th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

On a reviewing spree

Waris Shah (Official video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBtHFFBAZbE
Bandya (Live) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5TClouptEE
Chal Bulleya (Official video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4sKmGrjdDo
Andholan (Official Video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0b44qDxZb0
Jhok Ranjhan (Live) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chtrNpdiuCI
Albaella http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evQHkWW0lHI

The bands soundcloud page:
https://soundcloud.com/mekaal-hasan-band

The bands last.fm account
http://www.last.fm/music/Mekaal+Hasan+Band

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
April 19th 2013


4458 Comments


Just checked out the three videos. I am absolutely loving this. The live track and the first song especially. Really dug the flute
soloing.

Great review man, I might have to get this album. POS'd

PunchforPunch
April 19th 2013


6280 Comments


damn i can dig this

OmairSh
April 19th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks guys, yeah Hernan I can see you enjoying this, you can download it or purchase it from here http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mekaalhasanband2. There's some great flute and guitar interplay as well as great solos. The debut album is also fantastic.

Btw nice dig ;-).

Punch, damn that's a long artist name :P



Dreamflight
April 19th 2013


1760 Comments


Very interesting stuff here Omair. I'm certainly not really keen on Jazz, but the crossover and the flutes are quite appealing.

Very good review too.

OmairSh
April 19th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There's a good balance between funk and rock, check out the links to get a better idea if you haven't already, and thanks :-)

CaptainDooRight
April 19th 2013


30338 Comments


beasting on the jazz bro, will read in a few, but pos cuz i have faith

OmairSh
April 19th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Cap. Been in the jazz mood lately, jamming some Return to forever and Mahavishnu as well, join
me dude and enjoy the groove j/

DeputyExorcist
April 19th 2013


69 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is amazing, and precisely what I have been looking for to quench my Eastern meets jazz fusion needs.

I've been replaying my Shakti albums over and over....

Thanks for introducing this!

OmairSh
April 20th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad you like it Deputy, The debut albums also really good, it's a little darker.

I haven't heard Shakti but I think I need to check them out, McLaughlin with Indian musicians playing this sort of fusion, sounds really intriguing.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
April 20th 2013


21614 Comments


This sounds realy interesting, gonna check it out once I've listened to that 7 for 4 album.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

OmairSh
April 20th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

j/ :-)

OmairSh
May 7th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Waris Shah is absolutely sublime

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2013


21614 Comments


Still need to check this out.

OmairSh
May 7th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeppers

OmairSh
June 22nd 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There goes my 100% approval rating, rip.

Show yourself demon

SitarHero
July 22nd 2013


4746 Comments


Sucks about the 100% approval. RIP.

Excellent review though. This guy been on Coke Studio yet?

OmairSh
July 22nd 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks. Nah he hasn't, I've been expecting him to be but coke studios much more commercial and mainstream oriented than it used to be so I'm not sure of his chances of coming on.

denislg
July 28th 2013


5 Comments


Hey there! I finally took some time to check out your review, and it's definately well written, a shame that those neg people don't even have the balls to bring forth their reasons (when there is any). Anyway, that won't outshine your brilliant culinary analogy. ^^

It seems to me that even though such kind of music doesn't get the deserved attention in Pakistan, at least it bears some more recognition than here in Brasil, where most of those jazzers struggle to release such records and gain some feedback.

OmairSh
July 28th 2013


11924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man appreciate it. Yeah the genre's got a pretty specific audience, but what I love about jazz
fusion is that they experiment with other styles so the music sounds interesting. But still its tough,
it ain't catchy ya know.

I enjoyed Kiko Loureiro's solo jazz fusion album



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy