We’re three days into the new year and music in Pakistan is on an absolutely rollercoaster ride. While Coke Studio 2020 and Velo Sound Station may be heading towards an end, another new music show is on the horizon.
Bisconni Music, that counts Saad Hayat as producer, is set to roll out this year. Featuring 12 songs with 18 vocalists and 33 musicians, Bisconni Music arrives hot on the heels of the hugely successful Velo Sound Station that made its debut last year.
Artists who will be featured in the first season include Ahmed Jahanzeb, Sinnan Fazwani, Natasha Humera Ejaz, Ali Tariq, Haroon Shahid, Nimra Rafiq, Mirage, Ali Khan, Saad Hayat, Shuja Haider, Mughal-e-Funk, M. Aizaz Sohail, Mahnoor Altaf, Taha Hussain and Alycia Dias, Ashiq Ali Chand and Natasha Baig.
As delightful as the promo is, it does lead one to wonder if there seem to be one too many shows featuring pop music, fusion music and Sufi music, ultimately dividing fans.
Producer Saad Hayat, speaking to Instep, doesn’t agree.
“Coke Studio is a much bigger show and Velo was about electro-pop and electro-dance. Our show is not restrictive to any one genre or style of music.”
As for the selection process, noted Saad, “There is no one genre; artists have been selected based on merit and people have done what comes naturally to them.”
At least 5 drummers are involved with the series.
“When we say 5 drummers, it doesn’t mean all of them playing together. Gumby has played on 4 songs that suit his style of playing and so on,” noted Saad.
Other drummers include names such as Kami Paul, Aahad Niyani and 9-year-old Mahnoor.
Junoon’s longtime and formidable tabla player Ashiq Ali will be singing with Natasha Baig, among other things. “Some artists are completely fresh,” Saad noted.
He noted that the show was first and foremost a collective effort.
Rakae Jamil talks about ‘Sakal Ban’
A thumri, semi classical in nature and derived from Khyal, literally means “to dance”. For a super-group like Mughal-e-Funk, who have been exploring Mughal and South-Asian heritage through groovy, modern music, the understanding of such a sacred song was thus always in place. To get Meesha Shafi to sing this Amir Khasrau poetry was a masterstroke. And as Meesha has proven, as a vocalist, there is nothing she cannot do. The result is the song, ‘Sakal Ban’ that both treats the sacredness of Khasrau while letting the music flow. To add Sway Dance Project members along with an electrifying Meesha Shafi has given the group its biggest hit even though they have released a solo record and contributed to Paanch – The Mixtape.
While Meesha Shafi embraced her indie roots with the song, Rakae Jamil spoke to Instep about the new tune that is ruling the roost these days.
“We came up with this idea three years ago,” began Rakae. “I thought of this tune and made Kami listen to it who made a drum groove. We sat on it for a while but in 2019 Farhan thought to let Meesha listen to some songs and perhaps do a collaboration with her. She really liked this and thought it was amazing and we proceeded from there.”
Rakae recalls visiting Canada and recording Meesha’s vocals. As he explains, “There was no going back from there.”
By the time the song was ready, Rakae met Umar Riaz, the director, and the song was shot in one day.
“We had members of the Sway Dance Project who came and danced in the music video and it turned out really well. And it took this long because of the corona situation and to get things finalized. We wanted to release it in spring because it’s ‘Sakal Ban/Phool Rahi Sarsoon’ welcoming the spring time and flowers and we thought it would be a good way to end the year – on a positive note.”
Ali Noor set for another release
Pagal, the debut record from Ali Noor (of Noori) is the narrative of Ali Noor along with strong musicians like Ahsan Pervaiz, Kami Paul and the young Kumail Jaffery (who is also one of the backing vocalists on Coke Studio 2020).
With four songs out and another one appearing on Coke Studio as a collaboration with Fariha Pervez, it almost seemed as if Ali Noor’s record would be a shorter EP. However, while performing during CokeFest 2020, Ali Noor sang a new song called ‘Nai Marna’ (excellent, by the way).
Now it looks like Ali Noor has one more card to play. A song called ‘Gavo’ was set to premiere this week along with a new music video ft Ali Noor and his motley crew of musicians. At this point, it looks like Noor has delivered on his promise to stray away from the Noori sound and create new experiences for fans with his own music.