Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tunes of the Pak Sarzameen

When I was little the only time when I got really annoyed at my uncle was when he forgot my favorite mix tape on the dashboard of his car in the blistering Karachi summer. The sun, with its peak at the noon hour, took toll on the TDK-D90 (remember those) that a certain Shankar at Virgin on Tariq Road had put together for yours truly in a matter of hours. I was annoyed, it was the 90s, there was teen spirit on on that tape. What I didnt realize then was that there would be a time when I would be able to store tons of my favorite music on a small portion of a hard disk that maybe prone to electronic and mechanical failure. As much as I moaned the loss of documents and pictures when my Lappie crashed last year, the loss that had the deepest of impact was that of my music archive. Pakistani music and music videos as well some classic english stuff ranging from Floyd and Zepplin to Dylan and BB King all was lost.

I slowly recovered my English classics through some friends and some back up CDs, however most of my Pakistani music was gone for good. And after running into an unusual situation two saturday nights ago that involved arguing with a coffee shop operator over use of the bathroom while a drunk women got beaten up on the roadside, I realized the value of finer and prefered things in life and decided it was bloody well time to get that music together. So since the past two weeks I have slowly been recultivating my Pakistani music archive from various sources over the internet. Everything from Khan Sahab, Iqbal Bano and Nayara Noor to Noori, Aaroh, Overload and Meekal. While doing so, I was once again pleasantly surprised at the depth and the talent that exists in the Pakistani music.

The growth of our music industry bears testament to the fact that no matter how much a certain aspect of life suppressed, it only comes out more polished and flourished when it does come out. You cant keep a good thing for long. On one hand I was entranced by the qawalis and thumris and on the other I couldnt get enough of Nazia and Zhoaib's disco. One end of the play list had Vital Signs experimenting with all the boundaries that the early pop music industry had to face and on the other end Strings spread their wings out in the skys that the Signs had pioneered. May it Alamgir's attempt to adopt Latino style with Albela Rahi or Faakhir's spin on Flamenco, Junoon going Santana with Jazba-e-Junoon or Karvan going Zepplin with Gardish there is possibly no comparison to the level of diversity that exists in Pakistan, also keeping in mind the size of the country as well as the market that these people cater too. I dobt if our supposedly creative and cultured and definitely bigger and more populous neighbour could even stake such a claim.

At the same time, what I find slightly funny is the influence of RnB and Hip Hop on the music scene. DJs and Free-styling rap artists have started making appearances in music videos sometimes even dressed and decored like our 8-mile brothers from the hoods of Detroit or Up Town Niggas from ATL (A Town, Upside Down Yeah C'Mon!). Ebonics would soon be course offered in some Karachi schools that want to earn a few extra bucks. But jokes aside, it honestly is a reflection of a society that is assimilative of its influences. If only all those influences were positive!

Rest assured, I am really looking forward to making that summer trip to Karachi and shaking a leg with friends over Nazia and Zohaib singing Dosti, or some Abrar and Jawad bhangra song.

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