Atif Farooq injects the post-rock formula with an energy that makes this EP a blast to listen to
The standard post-rock ‘cliche’ is the 7+ minute track that swells from murmuring guitars to grandiose peaks, using elements of ambient, heavy metal and shoegaze to create tidal waves of sound.
On ‘Wandering’, Atif Farooq comes at post-rock from an oblique angle. The elements are still there, the tracks still build towards climaxes, but Farooq tinkers with the basic structure – the three tracks on the EP clock in at only 12 minutes combined – which results in something that feels fresh and exciting.
‘Parklife’, the clear standout, is almost a revelation in this regard. It starts with an immediate fade in to the end of a transition, as if we just stumbled in on Farooq, and he quickly adjusts and properly begins. It’s a bizarre opening to an EP, and one that could feel totally unfinished. But instead it’s gripping, like you just eavesdropped a few broken sentences from a nearby conversation.
The opener also suggests that Farooq thinks more like an electronic producer than a rock musician. The way ‘Parklife’ morphs from one sequence to another, the little binary bursts of static, the sheer speed of the transitions. There’s an impatience to ‘Parklife’ that gives it an energy, some special ingredient added to the mix. It’s not just the brilliant inclusion of the rubaab, it’s the way that Farooq is able to give everything space, while moving so fast. It’s a track that absolutely demands repeat listens.
The other two cuts on the EP – ‘Yesterday’s Song’ and ‘By The Creek’ – are more conventional post-rock fare, and don’t quite live up to the restless energy of ‘Parklife’. Nevertheless, the melodies are strong and evocative in the way post-rock often is, toeing the lines between emotions of optimism and despair, of hope and nostalgia.
The build-up to a big finish is perhaps the one predictable note to the tracks, and the weakest aspect of the EP. These grand finishes often don’t have quite the punch one would expect. Even on Parklife, the drums in the final sequence are also so low in the mix, so distant sounding, that the impact of the finish is lessened somewhat.
But after listening to Parklife, and Farooq’s 2016 jazzy two track compilation ‘I-8 Mile’ (with Ali Nabi Nur), there’s no doubt that there’s a well of talent at work here, an effortlessness on the surface that hides a really astute technical knowledge. And after getting so hyped about some of this material, it makes it even more difficult to swallow Farooq’s lack of output in the last year or so.
But whenever Farooq is ready, we will be too.
You can listen to more of Atif Farooq on Patari or SoundCloud, and you can buy his albums on Bandcamp. Support our alternative artists! They’re probably quite nice people. And if you enjoy it, let them know! The Patari version of the EP also contains an extra track, ‘Ocular/Things Fall Apart’, which is also great.