ACappella Records, Rs. 590 on iTunes

Acappella is a glorious celebration of the voice and all its rich possibilities. At its perfection, it can convince a generation dependant on electronic music production that the best can come from acoustic tools as basic as your voice coupled with an imagination. And CollegeDesis’ A cappella album is proof enough of that. With 13 tracks both in English and in Hindi, arranged and recorded by acappella groups across colleges in the US, the album is a reflection of the immense vocal talent student communities host.

The first track — Chai-Town’s ‘Tujhe Bhula Diya’ — serves as a good introduction for the uninitiated to acappella, with its straightforward rendition of the Hindi ballad built on a bed of gentle yet precise vocal percussion. The next is a far more adventurous arrangement featuring the album’s technical expertise in creating ‘mashups’ — tracks that combine two or more songs, seamlessly blending in and out of each other. This time it’s Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ and ‘Shukran Allah’ from the film Kurbaan. Dhamakapella’s combination of the rapping in ‘Airplanes’ and the melody of ‘Tujhe Dekha To’ is interesting. Taal Tadka’s ‘I’m Yours/Tere Bina’ is especially well arranged with portions where the lyrics of both songs are sung simultaneously. ‘O Re Piya/ Rolling in the Deep’ is a slightly over-laden acappella take on Shankar Tucker and Rohan Kymal’s earlier mashup of the two. ‘Ishq Kabhi Kariyo Na/Naughty Girl’ is one of the few mashups on a minor.

Among the mashups, the highlight of the album is Taal Tadka’s ‘Fix You/Maa’ — beautifully blended together with the original texture of both songs maintained. Both lyrically and musically, the usual assonance of mashups is absent and the song therefore, stands independent of its parenthood. Almost as well done is ‘Drops of Jupiter/Pehli Nazar Mein’ as the percussion pattern of the first feeds well into the second. The last one minute of overlapping is absolute brilliance. Among the singles, Raagapella’s ‘Woh Lamhe’ is a gorgeous goose-bump affair absolutely devoid of the beat-boxing found almost everywhere else. Its magic is purely in the intricate backing harmonies, the splendid vocal dynamics and a confident lead voice. The group does a fantastic cover of the Tamil song ‘Oru Malaai’ as well, replete with turntable effects.

Keywords: Acappella