Albums Galore

By Sonya Rehman

This year – just before the curtains fall on the year 2008 – a whole new barrage of Pakistani music albums are set to be released.

Hadiqa Kiyani, the Mekaal Hasan Band, Raeth, Kaavish, Mauj and Rubberband seem to be running against time, in a bid to take out their albums either immediately after Eid, or within the next month or so after the end of October.

Speaking with Jafar of Kaavish about their new album’s sound and genre, Jafar stated: “This album will be more of a contemporary Western orchestral fused with Eastern classical music. I’ve always been into desi classical music actually – I sort of grew up listening to AR Rahman, and he really played a major role in influencing my tastes in music. Also, this album has been entirely played live, and it caters toes.”

‘Gunkali’ – the name of Kaavish’s new album – is actually the name of an early morning raagwhich denotes a new beginning.

Considering ‘Gunkali’ (due to be released a month after Eid) will be a fusion of East meets West, it’s bound to be a new start for Kaavish in terms of where musical experimentation is concerned.

Raeth on the other hand, are taking their album out in the first or second week of January. “We haven’t decided on the name of the album yet”, band member Wajih says, “But the genre of it is going to be a lot like our first album – pop/rock. We’re carrying forward the same genre and just as the first album encompassed the theme and message of love, the second album too, will be of a similar theme. We’ll also be releasing videos for ‘Mein chala’ and ‘Wadah’ pretty soon as well.”

Planning to pop their rock album – unofficially titled ‘In technicolour’ – into the hot little oven of fresh new albums, Omran Shafique stated that Mauj will probably release it by the end of October. In addition, ‘Awaz’ one of their latest videos, directed by Zeshaan Parwez must be looked out for at all costs.

‘Saptak’ – meaning a musical octave – is the Mekaal Hasan Band’s latest offering which too, is due to be released locally and in stores by the end of October.

Speaking with Mekaal who was in Karachi at the time – judging a national music competition, he stated: “Saptak is more up-tempo compared to our previous albums. It’s infused with Sufiana qallaams and infact; it also carries an unplugged version of ‘Sawan’”.

Interestingly, regarding Rubberband’s to be released debut album – ‘Feedback’ – things have been pretty rocky. “It’s been ready for a year now”, vocalist Ahmed Ali Butt said despondently, “It depends on the record labels, there’s just no money left in the industry anymore. All the big names in the industry got sponsors, but the sales were nil. We may just wind up releasing ‘Feedback’ online. We’re also planning an international release as we’re in talks with some international labels. Our tentative date for the album release is November though.”

Currently, Rubberband’s single ‘Chal’ – an edgy rock song – directed by Ahmed Ali Butt (with DOP Bilal Lashari) has been doing the rounds on a majority of the local music channels.

The band is due to release their second video right after Eid as well, to keep the buzz of Rubberband alive.

Contrary to what people may think, Ahmed Ali Butt was right. The local music scene vis-à-vis record labels, seems to be standing on shakier feet than ever before.

And that coupled with the preponderance of bomb blasts and bomb threats within the country is putting almost every artist between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Musicians simply don’t have any way of making two ends meet anymore.

But local musicians’ suffering at the hands of Pakistani record labels isn’t new. One has heard of countless failed deals, delayed payments, bad returns, disrespectful treatment and zilch royalties. It seems as if a lot of musicians within the country pump in more money than they actually receive – some barely even managing to break-even.

No wonder then the decision to go across the border in search of greener pastures. Can one blame them?

But then again, on the other hand, even the Indian music industry isn’t all that it’s made out to be.

If Pakistani musicians are willing to churn out Bollywood dance numbers, they’re in for the great ‘ka-ching’ – if not, then well it’s back home…back to the old drawing board.

Images, Dawn

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