Instep Today

April 2024: An excellent month for music

By Maheen Sabeeh
Sun, 04, 24

From new album announcement to the comeback of music’s biggest property, here’s a glimpse into why April has been a significant month for music.


April 2024: An excellent month for music

Coke Studio 15 comeback

Transcending geographical boundaries and setting a standard for how music should be both heard and viewed, while showcasing a diversity that had never been seen before, Coke Studio in Pakistan and as a South Asian product cannot be minimized or diminished.

Season 14, released in 2022, marked a complete audio and visual overhaul, featuring all original songs. Helmed by Xulfi as producer and curator, with a team of musicians working under him, including the likes of Abdullah Siddiqui, among others, season 14 was undoubtedly one of the best Coke Studio seasons. However, its only drawback was the lack of focus on folk artists, except for one song.

April 2024: An excellent month for music

Correcting that mistake and returning after two years, Coke Studio 15 has changed its modus operandi.

According to a press statement, the new season will feature 11 original songs. The visual team has expanded with several directors including Awais Gohar, Murtaza Niaz, Jamal Rahman, Zain Peerzada, and Luke Azariah, alongside the show’s veteran directors Zeeshan Parwez and Kamal Khan.

Xulfi is back as the season producer for the second time and stated in a press statement, “This season celebrates the enduring power of art, the power of music – the power of love, of warmth and of connection. Each story and world is built on Pakistan’s rich and diverse tapestry: both its heritage and future, fostering a sense of shared identity.”

Taking into account the absence of folk music from season 14, the first song released by Coke Studio 15, is fortunately a beautiful piece titled ‘Aayi Aayi’ by Noman Ali Rajper x Marvi Saiban x Babar Mangi.

There is a synergy to the song ‘Aayi Aayi’ where no artist feels out of place. It is an intelligent collaboration where the audio and the video insistently transport you to Sindh, and the single feels like it embodies the essence of the soil, the desert, and its culture. The voices in the song feel representative of the desert, of its people, and the music video is a showcase of the cultural norms of Sindh.

But it isn’t just a beautiful collaboration; there is a story to the song that becomes palpable after watching it without distraction. The overall narrative illustrates how Sindh is a place where all are welcome. Credit must be given to Coke Studio for giving these dynamic artists a national platform. Given the beauty of this song, great things are expected from the new season.

Guess who’s back?

There are many reasons to admire Arooj Aftab. As an artist, she possesses qualities that go beyond singing. She is an incredible vocalist with a haunting voice that is easily recognizable. She is a brilliant live music performer, which is evident from her performances on prestigious stages like the Grammy Awards, NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, Brodie Sessions, among several others. She values the importance of collaborations, as seen prominently in the collaborative album, Love in Exile, by Arooj Aftab, Shahzad Ismaily, and Vijay Iyer.

April 2024: An excellent month for music

She is also adept at producing work for other artists such as Anoushka Shankar and Sheherazaad. Fans awaiting an Arooj Aftab album can rejoice since a new album from the artist, titled Night Reign, is set to release this year, and the first single from the album, ‘Raat Ki Rani’ has been released along with a captivating music video directed by Tessa Thompson.

Pakistani musicians go global

Musicians from and associated with Pakistan have become strong representations of South Asian identity to the extent that their performances in venues previously unimaginable a decade ago are no longer surprising.

In 2024, Arooj Aftab is set to perform at the United Kingdom’s Glastonbury festival for the second time (in June). Meesha Shafi recently performed with KUNE, Canada’s global orchestra just last month, and more performances are on the horizon. A notable example is Ustaad Naseeruddin Saami, who is scheduled to perform at the Aga Khan Museum in Canada as part of a show titled: Reflections on Khusrau and Kabir. Ustaad Naseeruddin Saami, 80, is a revered classical musician and a legend in Khayal Gaiki. Apart from appearing in season four of Coke Studio, he has performed around the world in countries such as India, USA, France, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan. This upcoming performance, presented by Small World Music and the Aga Khan Museum, will see Ustaad Saami focusing on the rich legacy of Amir Khusrau.

April 2024: An excellent month for music

In the same month, a qawaali performance by Saami Brothers will be held at The Creative School Chrysalis (TMU Theatre) the next day.

With love, from Scotland

One of the brightest names in music, Rakae Jamil, a founding member of the music group Mughal-e-Funk and a sitar virtuoso, is currently on tour in Scotland. According to Rakae, this trip to Scotland has allowed him to collaborate with Scottish musicians and be a part of musical theatre called ‘When Mountains Meet’.

From being a music producer to teaching music to his band, Rakae shared insights into what has kept him busy in 2024. In the first month of the year, Mughal-e-Funk released a song called ‘Dara’, named after the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan.

April 2024: An excellent month for music

Beyond the song, Rakae mentioned that he has finished an OST for a drama serial. He has also been producing music with Farhan Ali on some projects. On the performance front, Rakae revealed that he has done some concerts with The Colony, based in Lahore, as a guest artist, playing sitar in their choir performance, and at least one gig with Farheen Raza Jaffry, an upcoming ghazal vocalist. He is also working on releasing solo songs, teaching at the National College of Arts (NCA), and has some other projects in the pipeline.

In conclusion, April 2024 has been a remarkable month for the music scene, marked by significant comebacks, global recognition for Pakistani artists, and the continued evolution of musical endeavours. As musicians continue to break boundaries and collaborate across borders, the future of music looks promising, filled with innovation, cultural exchange, and artistic excellence.