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Co-VEN and good company
By Madeeha Syed
They have been around for a little more than a decade, and yet Co-VEN made their presence felt only a couple of months ago. Previously underground, they are now featured quite regularly on the airwaves with two of their videos, Sailing Fast and Third World Celebrity, both being the products of the Rola production house headed by Uns Mufti and Ali Jafri.
Co-VEN which stands for Company of Vicious Earth Navigators, recently launched their album through a gig held in the confines of a mall in Karachi, cleverly timed to coincide with the opening of the flagship store of Levi’s, also their main sponsor. The line-up comprises Sikandar Mufti on drums, Omran Shafique (of the band Mauj) on lead guitar, Sameer Ahmed (of Mekaal Hasan Band) on bass guitar and Hamza Jafri on rhythm guitar and vocals.
The event itself started roughly two hours late and was attended by quite a few celebrities from the entertainment industry, namely the Josh duo Qurram and Rupinder along with Umar Anwar, Tapu Javeri, Faizan Haq, Adnan Malik, Anoushey Ashraf, Ayesha Toor, Abubakr from Nabila’s, Qasim Raza, Nini and more. There were also a number of those who found Co-VEN’s music a little too loud for their tastes, lounging outside or browsing through the store.
Where Sameer Ahmed’s bass line throughout the performance was impeccable, he had a tendency of quietly working wonders with the guitar, losing himself in the performance albeit not in an outrageous manner. At times, he seemed oblivious to the audience. Hamza Jafri had amazing vocal strength as he belted out heartfelt lyrics. However, one must say there were moments when one could not comprehend his words, even as he sounded good musically.Sameer Ahmed’s bass line throughout the performance was impeccable and he had a tendency of quietly working wonders with the guitar, losing himself in the performance albeit not in an outrageous manner. At times, he seemed oblivious to the audience
Perhaps the only shortfall to the evening, other than the late start, was that the sound system did not do justice to the performance. Even fans of Co-VEN’s unplugged performances felt like cringing during certain moments where the guitars, vocals and drums appeared to be going in completely different directions.
In the launch gig, the boys performed some of their more popular hits, Third World Celebrity, Sailing Fast and Boundaries Broken among others from their album, which is a double edition containing two CDs. And although Co-VEN claims that the band’s title has nothing to do with the literal meaning of the word ‘coven’ (a gathering of witches), their album art work displays a faceless woman with a star in the centre of her chest, a crescent encircling her as she holds a large butcher’s knife in her hand.
Toward the end of 2002, there was another band that had begun to make waves in the industry: Entity Paradigm (eP) was an amalgamation of two very popular underground rock bands from Lahore, Entity and Paradigm. Ahmed Ali Butt and Fawad Khan were working on a sitcom titled Jutt and Bond and were asked by the director to compose a song for it. Hence Hum Ko Azma was given birth.
With the soundtrack becoming a humongous hit and with the Battle of the Bands just around the corner, the band-members decided to fuse both bands and enter the competition. They ended up becoming the runners-up, losing to Aaroh, which was enough to get them working on their debut album, Irtiqa (Evolution), which became a massive hit after its release the following year.
Perhaps what set the band apart, other than the extremely large line-up (eP was an eight-member band in all), was that their music fused rock and rap with soulful lyrics for what can be considered Pakistan’s first concept album. Their live performances were also a visual treat in itself. It isn’t often that you come across a large band that has every member perfectly synchronised to each other’s performance.
Their break-up earlier last year was a source of heartbreak for many, and since then people have speculated as to its cause. The only plausible explanation that one can think of is that the band was just too big to manage. It’s difficult enough hiring a band with that many members and disagreements amongst the members themselves are bound to spring up.