Waleed Ahmed, the architect behind the musical entity that is Janoobi Khargosh, has been so consistent in his creative output, so focused in his vision, that it feels like the idea for Janoobi fell from the sky into his lap. Since his debut album Billi Khamba aur Urantashtari till now, there has been plenty of experimentation here and there, blending genres and mixing vibes, but the underlying ‘Janoobi sound’ has always remained under the surface.
You could describe it as neo-psychedelia, or 80’s throwback, or synthwave, or neon Vital Signs, or any of the above. You could compare Ahmed to Kevin Parker from Tame Impala, or Toro y Moi, or others, but the comparison wouldn’t really be fair to anyone. Janoobi Khargosh exists outside of these comparisons. He’s an unidentified musical object.
On ‘One’, Janoobi continues with the creative direction that he’s been forging since Billi, which revolves around simplicity. Captain Space, the lead single from the last released EP, was co-written by Ahmed’s 8 year old little brother. The same kind of childish naïveté is present in One. Ahmed talks about a utopia off in the distance, ‘aik haseen jagah hai’. This childlike wonder turns to childlike dismay: ‘Saray log khafa hain…’ he sings solemnly, like he didn’t know people would be this way.
This simplicity and childishness has been stitched into the music too. While the composition here is layered and lush – the bulbous synths, a bouncing bass, the ambient soundscaping – the central melody of the track is endearingly simple. Just a few notes played on the keyboard.
It’s refreshing to have an artist that is so comfortable with their own sound to be able to take it back to basics when needed, to not feel like they need to over-write, or over-compose. The result is music that oozes a kind of relaxed confidence: everything in its proper place, everything at the right time. And if it’s not, then that’s fine too. Let the chips fall where they may.