In July, on the second day of Eid I packed up and went to Skardu with the family, which was great, but what wasn’t great was that Saad hadn’t released his latest single ‘Pahaar’ then, so I couldn’t listen to it while I was actually up in the pahaar. So that’s a shame. But retrospectively I can hear that it would have been perfect. The Karachi-based artist uses subdued guitar lines and typically jazz-inspired percussion to capture that perfect but fleeting moment of freedom in thin mountain air. There’s something particularly Himalayan about the composition here too, it’s a real treat.
Then there’s Nishtar Park, also Karachi-based, who bring road trip vibes with ‘Purane our Naye Sawal’, taking the poetry of Jaun Elia whose writings (in the words of the band): ‘are commonly associated with themes of pensive sadness, defeatism and purposelessness. This experiment, however, attempts to do none of that.’ And they’re right, there’s none of that here. In face the song beams positivity. Ali Raj’s vocals are lovely and fragile but in the best way, exuding optimism with each verse, and the guitar and ukulele are clean as mountain air (are you getting the theme? I wish I had all of these songs when I was in Skardu is what I’m saying.)
A big release this month was Wooly and the Uke’s debut single ‘Circus’. The track is a cocktail of anxiety, creepiness and general distress. Janat Sohail Aziz plucks away on her ukulele, usually such a bright and positive instrument, but when mixed with an ominous clarinet and surreal lyrics about the perils of consumerism, the track becomes dark and deranged. Props also to Jamal Rahman for some incredible production here. There’s a theatricality about the track that really sets it apart – the echoed audience clap, for instance, or the wailing in the background as the song reaches a climax. The devil is in the details here, and it’s worth repeat listens.
If there’s anyone on the current electronic alternative scene who knows about details it would be Smax. His latest LP ‘Tome’ just dropped and it’s a fantastic and complex journey. With opener ‘Hiero’, the Karachi artist again shows his ability in creating atmosphere. The track crackles and boils with energy, and sets the perfect tone for the tracks to come.
One of my favourites this month has been Zulfi’s EP Big Mouth. It’s cheating a bit because it released in April 28th, but I just found it, and I’m so glad I did. With ‘Big Mouth’, zulfi takes takes a leaf out of the beatnik handbook, riffing free verse poetry about psychedelic college experiences and the always-difficult element of change. There’s a madness to the piano, like it’s really being hammered on, and Zulfi’s punky shouted vocals are a testament to his big mouth. It’s schizophrenic, brimming with ideas, and a lot of fun.
It’s not on SoundCloud but Those Retards (I’m not crazy about the name either) released Lots of Calcium, the first single off their upcoming debut E.P “Foot Fingers” releasing 25th August 2017. Thankfully the track itself isn’t as blunt as the band’s name. In fact it’s a tender and emotional plea for help: ‘silly physics, heavy legs and I’m just trying to forget’. But there’s also a quirky sense of humour here that elevates the track. Vocalist Hassaan Bin Akhtar sings to the ‘missus, the one with the happy smileys’, injecting a modern twist to the otherwise fairly traditional indie rock vibe. Good stuff. Check out the very cool Wes Anderson-y video above.
Another big release this month was Eridu’s EP Art as Reason. Cuts on this EP seem to kind of unravel in slow motion, a ballet of electronic grunts and groans and synths. One of my favourites is the short but sweet Seru Home. It takes a while to wake up, but when it does, it blossoms. There’s a spoken word sample, too, that adds a hint of nostalgia to top it off.
Finally, closing out this month’s Mosiki Mixtape is Alif Bae’s Closure is a Privilege. There’s nothing too experimental or surprising here, just swelling synth lines, joined by a chill wave beat, that’ll make you feel optimistic and nostalgic at the same time, like you want to be back in Skardu.
I’ve got the post-holiday blues.
See you next month.
Remember to support the artists via Bandcamp or Patari, or just let them know you like their music! Let those feelings out! It’s fine! It’s ok to be genuine and sincere sometimes! OK BYE!