Talented musicians across the border are slowly building a scene, which if nurtured well will outshine ours. After all, the kind of material they are producing by drawing on multiple influences from all over the world is surprisingly indigenous.
Here are 5 relatively less acknowledged Pakistani musicians that we believe are really enjoying the labour intensive job of making good art.
Nawksh’s music is not just sharp, but also deep, which puts him in a musical realm dominated by Warp Records’ Chris Clark. Currently he is signed to an independent Tokyo label Guruguru Brain.
Danial Hyatt (Nawksh’s real name) debuted with album MythicTales of Tomorrow II - a labour of his love for developing video games and making music on the side. And just as a video game is any gamer’s escape, Ceratyl is his. It’s the world where most of Danial’s music comes to life. Give this one a listen to know why Nawksh must make regular appearances in South Asian electronic music festivals.
You know him by his stage name Mooroo. An established composer, director, actor, vlogger, Taimoor has made quite a name for himself. His collaboration with rapper Faris Shafi, who’s also made it to our list, was one of the most popular South Asian rap videos in 2012.
Mooroo debuted with his album Pehli in 2017. It’s peppered with Sufi mysticism, several instruments, and witty and honest lyrics. However, we would like you to first listen to one of his singles Mariam and then move on to Pehli.
On the surface, Faris Shafi seems like a mischief-maker. But dive deep into his explicit lyrics and you will find the subdued ethos of his generation. His songs are a reminder that no matter how lucky you are to be born in a well-to-do family in a war ravaged country, you can’t ignore the atrocities inflicted upon your brethren for long.
Faris Shafi, unlike others on this list, doesn’t have an album to his name. However, he has released three singles in the past of which Awaam deserves a listen. Like the other two tracks, this one lands repeated punches on the face of politics in Pakistan. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that he cuts a record someday soon.
Whatever be the reason, it’s unjustifiable that very little is spoken about the current crop of Pakistani female musicians in popular media. Take Sameen Qasim as an exemplar from that collective – she first came in the spotlight for her excellent cover of Boom Boom in one of the Nescafe Basement sessions. Few more covers followed, which subsequently led to her first album with her band, Hawai Jahaz.
Sameen’s collaboration with Gentle Robot, another musician based out of Lahore, resulted in Feel. Few seconds into the song and you will also agree that her voice is worthy of attention.
We saved the best for last. The Tamaashbeens are a quartet from Lahore that chooses to sing in Urdu. Perhaps that makes them the real torchbearers of the indie scene in Pakistan.
The Tamaashbeens sound tells of the quartet’s innocence in making honest, hummable music. Think mellow strings coupled with vocals that are unmistakably unpretentious. Tordh Phordh from the Patari compilation album, Patari Aslis Vol.1, is a lovable track that you wish was played on our local radio stations.