Been there, scene that


By Sidrah Haque

Post-2005 was when we saw the decline of the music industry; when not a single one of the 36,784 or so band members of eP carried out its purported legacy; the Fuzon boys fell out of love with each other; and Sonu Dangerous grew a little more dangerous when he thought ‘what the hell, why not sing while I’m at it too.’

One must take a big step back and grimly ponder over what happened to the music scene that had promised so much in the early years of the millennium. By Pakistani standards the popular music scene was flourishing, and rock bands — be it even those debutants who needed help tuning their own instruments before each concert — at least added to what we can now say was a good time for the music industry.

From Noori’s early experimentation — that was perhaps some of the more original music to come out of the last decade — to the vengeful youthfulness of Karavan, who will always find a place in any music writer’s heart, to the laughs that Mizmaar gave to us along the way. Good times indeed.

But ‘down hill’ is the perfect term for the post-2005 music scene. And of late, the Pakistani music industry has degenerated into a mélange of unfit teeny boppers, getting together one fine Saturday morning to produce a rushed single, and record-label artistes who are programmed by a music channel or label on how to make music, think, act, defecate etc. Post-2005 was when we saw the decline of the music industry; when not a single one of the 36,784 or so band members of eP carried out its purported legacy; the Fuzon boys fell out of love with each other; and Sonu Dangerous grew a little more dangerous when he thought ‘what the hell, why not sing while I’m at it too.’

“Perhaps the current socio-political environment will inspire change in the currently bludgeoned music scene”, whisper the retired music writers. Nothing spells revolution like a disrupted television channel it seems; perhaps this might spark the genius, and pave the way for either a few true bands or even some amusing revolutionaries — anything, anything that is worth appreciating or at least making fun of, the critics cry out.

But just like the start of every new year when we pen out resolutions that we will forget within months, or like every new year when we hope this will be the one when the pledges to the country are fulfilled, or at the very least, when we will never have to hear the words “Haar qadaam, khushali ki janaab” on television ever again. Just like every New Year, we will start with fresh hope and an eager ear for the few bands that promise better times ahead. Who are these bands, you ask? Where did they come from, and are they really here to stay? Read on:

Mauj

The cream that rises to the top in 2008 will be this four-man band, channeling its Houston, Texas spirit into our deadened music scene. Created from the dregs of Opré, Mauj is on the verge of an album release after they’re done dueling with the record label demons. Tired of the mythical royalty system that plagues the industry — one of the many reasons why bands are then left to mint their gold elsewhere, usually by selling their souls to telecommunication brands — they have been waiting patiently for the right time and the right deal to strike. But make no mistake about it, this is a band that will change how the future of popular music is seen and accepted. Singles like Khushfemi and Paheliyan are sharp, light, easy on the ear, while Awaaz and Baat Barthi Gayi have a nostalgic feel that reminds one of the better days of music, back to the dawn of Junoon. It is love, yes, it is love!

Aunty Disco Project

With a name like that, it’s got to be good!. Whatever they may be, this is a band with a personality, and a few tales to tell. I bet they have a streak of neuroticism about the group, perhaps a few obsessive compulsive disorders, mixed with the odd control freak or so – which is great. It’s time we got a few more crazy people in the industry.

The Aunty Disco Project have just recently released their debut album; an 11-tier product titled Aunty Disco Project, which contains complete live recordings of all sets and instruments, financed wholly by the band itself. This DIY approach, the same adopted once by Corduroy, might just turn out to be a case study of its kind for other bands to emulate. One hopes for a larger playing field for ADP, perhaps with a focus towards social commentary and other such greater purposes in their future productions. Plus, how can we not love rock stars who blog?

Kaavish

One may not be a fan of this band but one has to acknowledge their impact and loyal following. Refreshingly enough, their singles Bachpan and Choti Khushiyan stray from the regular repertoire of subjects churned from the pop machine regarding lost love or chewy candy. There is a certain self-assurity in the swagger of its front man, Jaffer Ali Zaidi and the quality of his voice, which makes you want to believe in him and what he croons on about. Kind of like Bowie did. One can see true musicianship in this band (no, it’s not just in the flowing locks) and it seems only a matter of battling the evils of Mephistopheles for success to come riding in. They seem a band that couldn’t possibly care what you make of them or their music — and those are always the best kind.

The Rising

One of the younger outfits to rise from the dregs of the Lahore music scene, the band boasts of Jhoot and Mein Aaj Uroon and a maturity in their music beyond their youthful appearances. They promise an album release in 2008, and given that you usually have to add two years to whatever release date a rock star gives you, at least more singles are expected from the quartet in the coming year. How great it would be if more of the younger bands — ala The Rising — came into the industry with a strong ideology and music philosophy of their shelf life, rather then creating meaningless ventures to combat ennui or gain fame. Definitely a band I personally have much belief in, and one to watch out for in the coming year.

And there you have it. If these bands don’t keep you entertained in 2008, the politics surely will.