Will kick things off this week with a slightly dated song performed by fellow @PaceisPaceYaar host, Assad Hassnain aka @LeftArmAround. I was apprehensive when I first started to listen because of the content. There have been many terrible songs in this vein (Yeh Hum Nahi, Dehshatgardi Murdabad) but to my relief I realised Mazloom works brilliantly because it is part of the tradition of satire-pop we are amazing at (Laga Reh, Fraudiay, Ehtesaab) because there are no soaring fucking orchestras or melodrama, and the lyrics are razor razor sharp. The song is also a rare contemporary example of successfully using the 90s rock template. The song has a slightly amateurish but fabulously well-conceived animated video made by the talented @SuperJutt1. So here it is, one of the rare songs on the current political condition which genuinely works.
For the 90s Operation Clean-up generation, it seemed that the only creative genius to emerge from Karachi would be in target killing and torture tactics. So I feel unmitigated joy each time I find another example of the seemingly relentless emergence of wonderful music from my city. Janoobi Khargosh joins The Dead Bhuttos, Basheer & the Pied Pipers, Chaand Tara Orchestra and Placebo Laal on the best-band-name lists in recent history. The song is delightfully irreverent, looping over itself and never getting serious about itself. The band was discovered by @NadirShehzad26, the bewilderingly talented frontman for Sikandar Ka Mandar and the brains behind the upcoming Lussun Session series – basically the Coke Studio for underground music.
Sometimes the entire Lahore underground scene seems to be a Six-Degrees-Of-Poor Rich Boy game, which might sound like its not a good thing, but is actually a vibrant scene. If I’m not mistaken, Saad Follows is the guy who directs the videos for PRB, and his song follows that lackadaisical, non-linear, gently subversive nature of his videos. Hat tip to @bhaichod for linking me to him.
Saad Follows – Mould
Ali Sethi is a well-received author and a respected editor, as well as being renowned for his good looks. But he really should quit all those other jobs because of how gorgeous his music is. I am no aficionado of desi classical, and can’t give you any technical reasons for why he’s good. All I can tell though is that his voice has that ability to affect that visceral reaction that desi musicians seem to excel in, vibrating with emotions, each note seeming to quiver before it settles. Do also check out Ali Sethi’s song for the Reluctant Funamentalist.
Returning to the indie scene, here’s a song by empror lephant, another indie-electronic act. Its fascinating how many of these bands seem so comfortable with discordance, often completely ripping a melody apart and then reassembling it in another form. Both Submission and Carbon Joy are great examples, often seeming like they’ve completely come undone before being subtly resurrected.
Sajjad Ali is like a cheat-code to music respectability in Pakistan. Listening to his music instantly provides legitimate street cred, and yet both his musical inventiveness and durability make him admirable to the more burger types as well. This song is a reworking of an old Sajjad Ali classic, with the kind of lyrics that work with ghazal lovers and school-van drivers alike. Unlike his contemporaries like Saleem Javed he also has never fallen prey to bangs-and-whistles remixes, and yet keeps his music fresh.
A bonus song choice would be to check out Umair Shehzad’s Saraswati, which Sajjad bhai is promoting. Umair was a colleague at DawnNews and I’ve had the chance to speak to him length about his plans for music. This song here has some ordinary music, but his voice is memorable. Watch this space.
Finally, last week I had spoken about how Punjabi has truly nativised hip-hop. I know that sounds like a huge thing to claim, so I wanted to contextualise the statement. This week I came across an enjoyable remix of Billy-X’s Raatan Na Soye, which compelled me to put up the original. Check out the video, which is more instructive, but here is the song, which is the answer to the following question: I wonder what Busta Rhymes would sound like if he rapped in Punjabi?
Within minutes of posting this, @ImaanSheikh brought up a band recently featured on Vice. Its a Karachi based hip-hop band that is called the city’s best by Basim of Kominas. I’ve only heard it twice, but this deserves to be here, if only for the music. Imaan has dibs on writing about them and any subsequent hipster credit is owed to her.