Can you believe Rushk has been around since the early 2000s? How often do you see their music being pushed around? They go off into the sunset somewhere and suddenly drop singles that make you go like ‘Oh shit, I forgot how cool this band was’. But that’s probably a good thing. As a fan of Pakistani music when you wait so long for new releases, this assistance in delayed gratification is key for survival.
Around a week ago Rushk released their new song ‘To Ja’ on Soundcloud. The song, 7 minutes and 45 seconds in its entirety has special powers. It transports you back in time with Nazia Zuberi’s vocals. I wouldn’t say that this is a typically ‘Rushk’ song. It’s actually quite different from the few singles the band released around 2-4 years ago like ‘Tujhe Pata Toh Challay’ for instance.
‘To Ja!’ starts off feeling like a mellow prog-song and eventually weaves its way into a bigger sound. The instrumentation in this song is key especially towards the end with gritty guitars, keys and drums coming together in such a sophisticated and tasteful manner. But having Nazia back on vocals, I’m wondering why that took so long. Not to take anything away from Tara Mahmood who sang in the previous recent releases as well as their live shows in Karachi. Both women have different styles but Nazia’s voice does something impeccable to the lyrics. But then again, the way Tara sang aforementioned ‘Tujhe pata toh challay’, it may have not had the same impact in Nazia’s voice.
Nobody writes songs in Urdu like Rushk. Not that anybody else should try, but when talking about Rushk’s music the lyrics are an important aspect as they take you on a philosophical trip. They bum you out but you keep going back because it felt so good to be that bummed out. And in ‘To Ja!’ after the solo, Nazia singing thoughts like “mere seenay mein dil hai/ woh dharakta hee nahi/ mukhtassir se safar yeh/ kyun kat ta he nahi/ sachai karwi hay to/ dawa bana key tu pee ja” effortlessly in a seemingly simple melody stay with you in her voice. After so much mainstreaming of men singing something or the other, it’s just refreshing to hear Rushk’s stories and words in women’s voices in a post-rock setting.
Although I can’t put Rushk in a box anymore. After this new release, it’s pretty evident that this band will not be tied down to one type of sound. We’ve seen them do funk, jazz and now some kind of prog, let’s see what more they throw our way.