Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Music for a Callous Society: Coke Studio 4

The music that comes out of Pakistan is just plain wonderful.  It is not the only country about which this can be said but there is indeed something quite unique about the musicians who are working out their salvation in Pakistan at the moment.  While their ship of state lists in angry seas, tossed violently by economic stagnation, insecurity of life and livelihoods, global chess games, obscurant fanaticism and social unrest, Pakistani musical artists seem to exist in a sublime state of bliss.  The music they are producing is truly Spiritual in the sense that is offers a higher vision that is hope filled and beautiful.  In a time of chaos and confusion the musicians of Pakistan are taking up the historical responsibility of keeping their eyes on the prize of Truth.  Like the great poets of similar past eras, Ghalib and Zafar, (to name just one pair), who produced their art in times of tremendous cultural and political violence, it seems Pakistani musicians are mining the deepest vein of whatever it is that holds their people together. 

That it is music, not poetry, that is the medium doesn’t make any difference. The inherent spirit that animates their art has the identical capacity to heal and invigorate a callous society as much as the ghazals, masnavis and nazms of their artistic forbears. Indeed, that it is music and not an ossified literary form is no accident. The world has changed beyond common understanding, not the least in that it has shrunk. Or at least we comprehend a smaller world these days.  Influences in the form of technology, sounds and sights come from not just the neighbourhood but across the globe. Time has sped up and things never stay the same for very long. There is more urgency in the ether.

Music is uniquely placed to both convey and counteract human urgency.  Because we need only put ourselves in its presence for the magic to work music is able to untangle our troubled souls by switching the focus from words (we live in epoch of excessive words: advertising, political slogans, celebrity gossip, fanatic babbling) to pure sound.  The vibration of music soothes us.  In the next instant the musical vibrations can be so driven and intense that we are compelled to wake ourselves and take action and refocus.

The Coke Studio concept and format in Pakistan exemplifies this ‘gorgeous space’ that music enjoys. Old artists have found new life and new audiences by revamping their music in contemporary clothes. Newcomers have made a place for themselves by digging up the roots and cooking them in a new way.  And without any shyness but rather, with supreme confidence they have mixed in everything from bluegrass (Kikrkir Kirkir) to New Orleans funk and Hindu chants (Nar Bait).

This selection of music from Season 4 is probably the best yet.  Absolutely stunning music delivered with humour, soul, vision and love by an amazing clique of contemporary Sufis who have no option but to shine while their country shakes.

            Track Listing:
            Volume 1
            01 Senraan Ra Baairya [Ashraf Hussain Samrat &    Zoe Viccaji]
02 Ni Oothaan Wale [Attullah Khan Esakhelvi]
03 Kangana [Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad]
04 Nindiya [Kaavish]
05 Kirkir Kirkir [Sajjad Ali]
06 Lamha [Bilal Khan]
07 Qurat ul Ain Balouch Panchi [Jal]
08 Baageshri-Instrumental [Mole]
09 Ith Naheen [Sanam Marvi]

            Track Listing:
            Volume 2
            10 Mundari [Ustaad Naseer ud Din Saami]
11 Nar Bait [Akhtar Chanal Zahri]
12 Pyaar Naal [Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi]
13 Lambi Judaai [Komal Rizvi]
14 Rang Laaga [Sajjad Ali Sanam Marvi]
15 Mandh Waai [The-Sketches]
16 Beero Binjaaro [Asif Hussain Samraat]
17 Mori Bangri [Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad]

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