The Year in Pakistani Alternative Music: Top 20 Tracks
There were a ton of fantastic singles released this year. But every year has those special tracks that you have to share with your friends, that constantly pop up in your playlists. Here’s 20 of them, spanning genres from synth pop, to qawwali, to dance, to ambient, to pop. Click on the name of the track to listen to it on Patari, or wherever. SO, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER…
It’s currently shaadi season and so this beautiful qawwali track from E Sharp might be particularly relevant. Especially if you are single and going to other people’s weddings and trying not to cry. The Karachi band pick up a bittersweet melody on the harmonium and craft the song around it, layering with rich instrumentation. Occasionally, lead singer Ahmed Zawar’s vocal stretches into a long anguished cry that’s filled with pain. It’s a breathtaking moment. Although their album ‘600 Saal’ might have been a little hit-and-miss, this track is one of the sparkling standouts.
Earlier this year Ali Suhail released his fantastic fifth album ‘Pursuit of Irrelevance’ and it was difficult to pick a favourite from it. Awaazen is the perhaps the poppiest and most accessible cut on the album, but we chose Buckle because of how much it showcases Suhail’s evolution as a producer. Buckle is a mad, crazy trip down the rabbit hole. The track is constantly shifting and mutating, sampling traffic horns and street side vendors. The ‘white rabbit’ in this sonic wonderland is the brilliantly simple bassline that beats throughout, the true heart of the song. It’s a real treat to listen to, and it’ll leave you bewildered and confused, but desperate for more.
Although it’s been a quiet year for Dynoman, the electronic artist released the single ‘Mountains in Love’ off his upcoming album ‘Travels to Janaicah: Songs For Lana’. It’s an incredibly chill house track that shows off Dynoman’s obsessive attention to detail – the multiple permutations of the beat make this one essential for repeat listenings.
If you’re looking for bittersweet nostalgia then Khan Solo’s beat tape ‘Stargirl’ is for you. Track 02 was one of my favourites off an exceptional album. Featuring a sample from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this song takes a melodious acoustic guitar and an infectious bass line, and creates something magical and melancholy.
Produced by Ali Suhail, Shajie’s new track indicates a new direction for the artist, one that moves away from the simplicity of the acoustic guitar towards a more experimental dimension. There are electronic programmed drums and synthetic beeps here, but under it all is Shajie’s inimitable voice and knack for writing beautiful and emotional songs in the most simple way. It’s the best the artist has ever sounded. If another album ever comes, I hope it’s filled with tracks that are just as creatively crafted as this one.
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