The ‘Sooji Ka Halwa’ Guy Pays Tribute to Old School of Rock


By Sonya Rehman

A bright yellow CD cover depicting a man with his guitar walking towards the world. And in a happy-chubby, 60s-style font, it reads: ‘EARTHIOTIC – Songs From A One Room Palace’.

Upon noticing the local media boom, this Pakistani musician (based in L.A), has of late begun performing gigs back in his homeland. And it was recently that Tee-M (Tariq Mirza) performed at a sold-out show in ‘Royal Rodale’ (Karachi) and among others, a gig in both Lahore and Islamabad – which was put up by the Alliance Francaise.

Now what strikes one most about Tariq is his humble enthusiasm – and this, is reflected greatly in his music. Infact each of his songs featured on his debut album carries with it an untainted ‘popped-up’ rock sound.
It is neither too overbearing, nor too aggressive. Lightly shaken, stirred and happy, Tee-M rolls out his rock with an innocence that is felt greatly in music genres that were churned out in the early eclectic 60s – seeped on towards the late fun-trippy 70s.

Therefore ‘EARTHIOTIC – Songs From A One Room Palace’, clearly belongs to the ‘progressive rock’ genre. Don’t think King Crimson and/or Pink Floyd – those were darker forms of progressive (psychedelic) rock. Think Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jethro Tull…or better still, Supertramp – lighter forms of rock that were thoroughly progressive.
So jump into your daddy’s beat-up old Mustang, roll down the windows and take a drive down a wide highway, because ‘And I was gone’ will make you want to do just that. The track has this old, vintage touch to it, just as ‘Disappeared’…and the lyrics? Pretty ‘straight from the heart’ and simple, making it real easy to sing along to.

The album’s been produced by both Tariq and Geoff Tyson (who was also Joe Satriani’s student); therefore it’s packed with quite a bit of punch. Smooth and clean, the numbers have been impeccably recorded. You can tell, the quality is that distinguishable.

Tariq’s debut album hasn’t been released through an official record label though, rather, it has been released independently. Therefore ‘EARTHIOTIC’ can be purchased via Tee-M’s website ( and/or (

Now when I stated earlier that Tee-M’s music encompasses an innocent, albeit enthusiastic feel – that was reminiscent of the 60s’ groovin’ rock – ‘New Orleans’ and ‘Spunk’ (track six) clearly fit the definition bill.

In ‘Spunk’, Tee-M sings: “She’s got spunk/She’s got spunk/She’s got spunkkkkk/She’s a funky chick”, making for a fun Indie song that makes one want to don a pair of three-inch block heels, bell-bottoms to get down and groovy with it.
And there you have it: song number seven smiles out at you from its jiggly-little font. It’s called ‘Aao Aao Aao’. Need I say more?

“Aaj subha mein utha/ Duur say awaz ai/ Uth jao meray beta/ Peelo doodh milai/ Thori dair I couldn’t believe it/ When I heard those things/ So I looked around for a minute/ Again I heard the voice say/ Aao aao aao/ Sooji ka halwa khao!” The song will make one’s heart-cheeks grin from ear to ear as it really is a winner.
How wonderfully simple a song ‘Aao Aao Aao’ is, and yet it has the ability to make one – of any age whatsoever – feel nostalgic, happy, warm and fuzzy all at once. Truly like a hot bowl of sooji ka halwa!

In ‘Hallucination’, a slurry-mellow number, Tariq’s vocals in Urdu as he Sa Re Ga Ma’s and then again in ‘Yahrah!’ where he croons: “Yarah chor chal/ Chal chaley/ Chal chalein”, makes him an extremely diverse singer.
He sounds great singing in Urdu, infact his voice takes on a very different older-sounding, powerful and huskier sound. The differences between his singing in English and then in Urdu (both of which he does aptly), is quite startling.
Progressing forth, tracks 10 through to 12, ooze the lazy blues in different shades. With a hint of country-guitar-twang, they are upbeat and cocooned with sensitive, soft rock.

Get this now: ‘Man without a country’ is a song written in inspiration for Merhan Karimi Nasseri – a true story of the man who inspired the film ‘The Terminal’ (which starred Tom Hanks).

In an interview, Tee-M had stated: “I would at least like to hand him the single, let him know that hey, somebody wrote a song for him in ‘95 long before Tom Hanks and Spielberg made that movie ‘The Terminal’ inspired by him in 2004.
Merhan’s ‘Alfred’ story is one of the most bizarre ones out there. The guy has been sitting at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for more than 16 years now.”

‘Man without a country’ is a poignant song, especially once you know what drove Tariq to pen it down. He sings: “Why can’t I just be a plain old citizen of the world/About six years ago I came to Paris/And ever since then, I’ve been stranded at the airport/Now Terminal One is the place I call home/There’s no telling when I’m gonna find me a passport/So until then, I’m a man without a country”. The song gets full stars for being uniquely themed and emotive.
With a short-lingering ‘Life’, another bluesy ‘You go on’ and followed by an instrumental ‘Quiet night by the ocean’, Tee-M’s ‘EARTHIOTIC’ (a word coined by the musician to depict global patriotism), comes to a curtain-call.
And my prediction? This won’t be the last we’ll be hearing from Tee-M.

Instep, The News


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