Hasan Abbas – Streams of Soan

Music has always had a cathartic value for me.

It has also served as an outlet to learn, experience and share my thoughts and feelings with the world. That said, I feel blessed that my evolution as a musician has always had a positive support amongst my family, friends and listeners who have helped me and inspired me as this evolution has continued.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost - Cover

With that, as times have changed and with the experience and perspective I have acquired, I have made a conscious and deliberate decision to refresh and reinvigorate my musical image.

With Streams of Soan (S.o.S), I hope to embark on a new journey as I prepare to release a new E.P and actively work with other musicians and a dedicated team to realize this new journey of my passion.

I hope you all are as excited as I am as a new chapter begins – stay tuned on Patari and Facebook for all upcoming updates about my music: Streams of Soan

[After getting his super secret agent cover blown, Hasan Abbas comes up with a new name: Streams of Soan! Here's a link to his previous work: http://patari.pk/home/artist/Hasan-Abbas]

Zohaib Kazi’s Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher

In case you missed it over the holidays, Zohaib Kazi’s album is out in full. The album features a roving cast of Karachi’s best musicians: Jaffer Zaidi, Zoe Viccaji, Sara Haider, Omran Shafique, Abbas Ali Khan among other.

The record was released with an accompanying graphic novel, and is a sketch of space, of the future, of the unchartered – most importantly of something new and different. In its newness the album retains a familiarity of early 2000s Pakistani pop. It has spiritual links to Coke Studio, as it does to Junoon’s Piya and to Vital Signs’ Hum Tum. This is an album of sound-scapes, but it still makes still, for great pop.

Kazi’s journey to this point is quite remarkable, and there is no doubt now that he ranks among the country’s best record producers.

This is Ahmer Naqvi in a profile on Kazi for the National:

In what was the first of many serendipitous moments, a friend noticed that three of the tracks he had made seemed to be hinting at a larger vision, and he encouraged Kazi to pursue it. Those three songs were part of a film soundtrack Zohaib was working on that had only one problem – there wasn’t any film. iphone 5s replacement screen Spurred by his friend’s encouragement, he decided to start writing the story he had wanted to be filmed.

Almost three years later, Kazi mailed a CD with one of his songs to Rohail Hyatt, one of Pakistan’s most acclaimed musicians and, at that time, the producer of the show that would define the last decade of Pakistani music – Coke Studio.

 

Zahra Salahuddin interviews Babar Sheikh from Dusk

Great profile of the metal band in Dawn:

When it comes to heavy metal or extreme music, the ’90s were a special time as a lot was changing, Babar recalls. While mainstream bands ranging from Iron Maiden to Judas Priest existed, at the same time there was an underground metal scene erupting the world over — including in Pakistan.

The article is written on the occasion of the release of Dusk’s latest single, which itself is commemoration of the band’s 20th Anniversary:

The band’s links to Karachi’s music scene are extremely diverse. Both in terms of the number of Karachi’s stalwarts that have played with the band, and the number of acts the band’s members have been involved in.

Quite special also are the band’s collaborations with other metal acts from across the world, releasing records together with bands from Singapore, India & Japan.

In all of this lies a deep love for metal. Often at the fringes of most musical tastes, what is heartwarming about metal in Dusk’s case is not just whether it makes for easy listening all the time, but that it is played with such love. You get a sense of the band’s connection with the music when you listen to Babar Sheikh talk to Patari about the band and about the context in which they played:

If you’re new to Dusk, like me, you can get a feel for their music using our new Popular Tracks feature on Dusk’s page.

Pop Sitars

Noorzadeh Raja has this great mellow-afternoon soft-rock song that we featured in Haftanama 18:

It caught our imagination:

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The song has many great things about it, but it’s the texture of the song – made by Rakae Jamil’s sitar – that sets it apart.

The sitar has lagged behind desi percussion and the harmonium for uptake in Pakistani pop, which is strange considering it was one of the first Indian instruments to make it to Western pop. The biggest Western coup for the sitar being late Beatles music (prominent songs: Norwegian Wood, Love You To, Within You Without You).

The sitar’s travels to the West also gave us piece of magic:


The closest thing we have to this is psychedelic work from film composers Sohail Rana & Nisar Bazmi:

And perhaps the most prominent public presence of the sitar today is at Nafees Ahmad’s accompaniment at Zia Mohyeddin’s new year’s eve show at Lahore’s Ali Auditorium. Nafees Ahmad also played in this year’s Coke Studio:

Western pop’s infractions towards the east have mostly looked at North Indian Classical Music, where the sitar is often prominent. On the other hand, recent Pakistani pop’s explorations into South Asian musical traditions has largely centered around Sufi music. Junoon, of course, led this effort, and many others have taken it up in their stead. Which has meant that qawwali is the primary genre that pop has interacted with, and qawwali will often have only a harmonium and some percussion. Both of which have seen more successful forays into pop.

The sitar really found it’s voice in Pakistani pop when Rakae played with cousins Noori on Coke Studio 2:

Coke Studio has tried a handful of sitar pieces since, most of which are rooted in classical composition. Pop’s sitar players are few and far between – Rakae Jamil may be the only prominent one.

And if nothing else, I appreciate the effort to broaden the horizons of both pop and the use of the sitar in contemporary music. Why? Because unlike many other things in life, in music new-ness is almost always good. Because new means different, and difference allows art to do what it’s meant to: shake things up. The great thing about art, music especially, as opposed to other creative production like software is that art never goes out of date. Which means that even if a style isn’t fashionable in the moment, it may become so later. It is this permanence that leads us now into Sohail Rana’s work from many decades ago, which was perhaps ahead of its time in terms of fashion.

Zohaib Kazi’s Album & Graphic Novel Coming This Month

Dawn’s Images:

The album will be launched in December this year. Published by Markings, the album will bring forward popular artistes like Zoe Viccaji, Omran Shafique, Abbas Ali Khan and Kazi himself.

The animated video has been looked after by Kamal Khan and the project spanned over four years with some of the frames hand-drawn digitally.

Sneak peek of the video:

How I feel about this:

 

Zohaib Kazi’s music, perhaps along with Janoobi Khargosh, is near the top of the charts if you order them by quality to lack-of-knownness ratio.

The demos we have off the album are already some of my favorite recent songs:

Bumbu Track

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It’s out.

Though it’s not by Bumbu Sauce in full, just ‘Masterjee Bumbu’.

True to form: tongue-in-cheek, urban-lingo reference heavy, and punkish. Perhaps sonically not as rounded as the Bistee Proof EP but interesting.

I think we’ll look back in a few decades to these songs as records of what we used to talk about. In some ways these songs are our life’s phrases in a sonic time-capsule.

#BringingDiscoBack

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In Pakistan, there are several categories of what we understand by disco. In the broadest sense, it can come to mean something like this image, which is one of the first that comes up when you search for “Pakistani Disco” on Google Images.

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When Pakistanis use the word disco in this sense, they mean anything which is outside the norm, generally in a liberal or subversive sense. One example was leftist students calling ‘westernised’ members of the Jamiat as ‘disco maulvis‘.

(If you live in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi, then disco also means the place where you get chai ke paapay from, but lets keep that aside for now.)

In a musical sense, particularly in the early days (and even now), disco was also meant as the usage of western style of music by local singers. Over time, the term ‘pop’ became more popular instead, but as this album cover shows, it was a catch-all phrase for modern, western sounds.

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But most specifically, when we think of disco and Pakistani music, we really think of one, eternally beautiful and beloved singer.

Nazia-Hassan

This week, Salt Arts and Patari are looking to develop this connection a little bit further. Our campaign, #bringingdiscoback, looks to recapture the excitement and glamour that disco brought both as a musical movement, but also as a moment in cultural and social history.

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You can start getting into the mood by listening to our essential collection of Pakistani disco tracks. The songs here cover the early, proto-disco sounds emerging from film playback singers, through to the early PTV era pop-stars, the supernova of disco music that were Nazia and Zoheb, and finally the evolution of the sound in the 90s and the current era.

All the songs culminate with the online exclusive release of Zoe Viccaji‘s latest, disconuma track, Jaanay Do. A song that both captures a bygone era and electrifies it into a contemporary sound, this is the latest in a proud tradition of Pakistani disco. As one of the country’s most popular and delightful singers, Zoe is poised and ready to start #bringingdiscoback.

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Natasha Humera Ejaz – Khwab

With the release of Khwab, Natasha’s three fourths of the way to the complete release of her EP Till the End of Time. 

 

Many of us were introduced to Natasha through her appearance on Uth Records:

 

Though on Uth Records we learnt as much from the song as we did from the behind the scenes footage. The Uth Records song wasn’t a performance as much as it was a construction. This is not to meant to be a slight, but an observation of the essence of the recording itself. Natasha’s singing, apt to the melody, is mellow. She fronts the song but is almost an accessory to the song.

You realize when you see this that this song is made by people who think music is bigger than the people in it, that individual performances must show deference to the idea of the song itself. That the art is bigger than the person. So you may come out of the song thinking of Natasha as an artist, but you don’t come out of the song thinking of Natasha as a performer.

But it was obvious to everyone close to her then that if there was one thing that Natasha was, it was a performer. She sings, she dances, she acts, it was almost as if she needed a reason to be on stage. And yet here she was in 2011, providing calming vocals while she studied audio engineering. It’s almost amusing.

If you need proof that Natasha’s friends are right, look at this:

 

I would imagine that people who know Natasha well are just waiting for everybody else to figure out what they know to be true. That they are in the midst of something special.

This EP takes us towards that realization.

The three songs released so far share a spiritual leaning with The Right Way to Fall (her song from Uth Records). But they are more open emotionally,  more real almost in what they are trying to say.

The lyrics are more vulnerable. The music more touching. The band quite stellar. But the video is an homage to Natasha the performer. It is time that we give Natasha’s friends some company in the ‘we-get-it’ section of the audience.

But despite it all, Natasha the performer never becomes bigger than the song. The song has a definite climax – everything moves towards it, yet even when you are there you don’t ever think of Natasha being in your face unless you really look for it. The vocal reaches an impressive crescendo, but everything about the production means that the vocal crescendo doesn’t take over the song.

The analogy here is to guitar players who solo all the time, because they can. The best guitar players only solo when the song demands it. Natasha can solo, you can tell from this song. But even when she gets the song to the point where she can take all the limelight, she doesn’t. The production doesn’t do that because there’s no need to (this is perhaps as much a testament to Natasha as to Omran Shafique the producer). That’s why Natasha the performer is special, because she only shows up when it’ll mean something. Nobody likes a guitarist that’s always shredding.

Zahra Salahuddin had a great chat with Natasha alongside the release of her new video:

Images: How is ‘Khwab’ different from your other music videos?

Natasha: I think I’ve grown a lot in the last three years, so everything that I did prior to this has been really cute and adorable, according to most people. This one is darker, has a little more spunk to it. There’s absolutely nothing other than dance being explored in it, so that’s really interesting.

Totally worth the full read. But that passage in particular, gives a glimpse as to what’s happening. It seems inevitable that there will be a watershed moment, a point where this music goes beyond circles in Karachi into other cities, into the diaspora, everywhere else music from Karachi is supposed to go. The question then, the really interesting one, is how it’ll happen. What is the one moment that changes it all, the moment where we finally all see it.

For Junoon it was Inquilaab, for Ali Zafar it was Channo, for Poor Rich Boy Fair Weather Friend. I don’t know that we’re at that watershed yet, but I know we’re getting there. Because of what Natasha describes: her own growth alongside increased awareness from the audience. At some point the two lines will cross, and that will be when all the hipsters will cry that they found her first. For the moment they can enjoy themselves.