Top 20 Tracks

The Year in Pakistani Alternative Music: Top 20 Tracks

11. Fiction – Abdullah Siddiqui

Fiction Abdullah Siddiqui

As soon as you hear the distant horns drenched in reverb, shrouded in the back of the mix in Abdullah Siddiqui’s ‘Fiction’, you know you’re in for something special. Siddiqui has an ear for melody, and his voice sounds more comfortable and confident in this more bombastic setting and there are lots of nice little production touches that keep you coming back to the track. ‘There’s no friction any more’, sings Siddiqui, and you can believe it as the song ascends into a beaming brassy climax.


12. Kamzor – Cheeems

Kamzor album art

With ‘Kamzor’, Cheeems crafts one of those sly pop songs that creeps up on you, where you’ll find yourself humming the melody a week after you heard it. There’s no show-stopping moment on ‘Kamzor’, just muted drums, a softly strummed guitar and a diverse vocal performance. But it’s the whole package, along with the strength of the songwriting, that carries the song. It’ll embed itself into your unconscious, guaranteed.


13. Patience – Dosti Music Project

Dosti Music Project Travelers cover art

We usually hear Slowspin in the context of an acoustic guitar or harmonium, and over washes of synthesised sound, often resulting in something that’s ethereal and misty. On ‘Patience’, a Dosti Music Project initiative, the introduction of South Asian classical instruments such as the Sarod, and duetting with Debasmita Bhattacharya gives the track a more concrete essence that’s a delight to listen to. It mixes classical and electronic elements beautifully, and is a testament to the talents of all the musicians involved.


14. Big Mouth – Zulfi

zulfi big mouth

There’s the spirit of Patti Smith in Zulfi’s ‘Big Mouth’ that feels fresh and modern and exciting. The piano sounds like it’s being bashed, the drums crashed, and Zulfi’s vocals are half-sung, half-shouted, half-spoken word. It all culminates in  something that’s refreshingly direct, like you’re hearing it straight from the horse’s big mouth.


15. Jee Aao – Zohaib Kazi and Akhtar Chanal

Jee Aao Fanoos

Listening to ‘Jee Aao’ from Patari’s ‘Fanoos’ series, you can almost see the open road stretch out ahead of you. Akhtar Chanal’s distinctive voice combined with that guitar riffs makes this one of the most immediately arresting songs to come out of 2017, just bursting with attitude. Towards the end, Zohaib Kazi spins the track back to the 80’s, with electronic synths replacing the guitars. It’s totally bizarre and fun, painting Balochistan in neon hues.

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