Friday, May 18, 2012
17th May, 2012 was an extremely sad day for my family and loved ones. We lost a very dear friend, brother and son - Zaigham bhai. Him, along with three other PAF pilots attained Shahaadat close to Risalpur, Pakistan in a mid-air collision of their aircrafts. May Allah have mercy on their souls and grant them Jannah.
When I was growing up, I had my share of bhais and bajis courtesy the joint-family style living in an Armed Forces community. Cricket and generally sports, were always a uniting factor for all children, of all ages, within any Air Force Base. Every day right after Asr, every kid used to get together and play themselves silly till Maghrib. By the time Dad's posting used to come around, me and my brothers had so many friends. Some of those childhood friends have always been there; Zaigham bhai was one of those.
The earliest memory I have of Zaigham bhai dates back to 1993-94. That was the year we moved to PAF Complex, E-9, Islamabad. It was a newly developed Base with a very small residential area. If I remember correctly, there were only 4 rows of houses, and some apartments close-by. Considering I was only 8-9 at the time, I might be wrong. Nevertheless, that is where I believe I befriended so many people who became constants in my life thereafter. Similarly, these bhais who were mainly my brothers' friends also became part of our Air Force family. These were faces that were just always there, like for example Kashif bhai and Bilal bhai were born with mo, Rahim bhai and Zaigham bhai - those two characters who always had only one subject of discussion at hand - Aircrafts! And then there was Rashid bhaijan - may his soul rest in peace - who had made it to the Air Force Academy and was gunning to become a fighter pilot.
I vividly remember Rahim bhai and Zaigham bhai at a Eid party at PAF Base Faisal, with the two of them listening in so intently and eagerly to war stories being narrated by Uncle M. M. Alam. The two of them were is such of awe of him. It was definitely the Air Force for them.
The last time I met Zaigham bhai was in mid-2000's. He dropped by to say hello to my elder brother as he was leaving for USA. In those days, Kashif bhai, my brother and I used to play a lot of Chess against each other. Weirdly, I used to beat the two of them at the game and was pretty confident at the time. And then came Zam bhai who ended up check-mating me in 3-4 moves. I must admit, it was a very humbling experience.
I could go on and on with these intimate recollections of Zam bhai. He will always be missed. His memory will live on through his two sons - may Allah look over them and keep them under His security and give patience and sabr to Aeliya baji. It has been Rashid bhaijan all over again for my family, only this time I'm old enough to feel and realize the impact of such an immense loss. I request everyone to pray for him, and his family and friends.
To all the bhais and bajis I'm still in touch with and others, I love you and you guys will always have a special place in my heart. Only 'Kids of the PAF' can begin to understand the nature of this kind of emotion and loss.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
So, Coke Studio (CS) is back with its fifth season. I must admit I had lost all interest in the show until recently when Qayaas became part of the CS list of artists headlining this year.
Qayaas is a band which possesses so much talent, not only in the vocals department but guitars and drums as well. It's a very tight unit and will do wonders considering they stick together long enough. I've already talked about Umair on one of my previous posts.
It is highly unlikely that I'll be talking about CS songs other than Qayaas's. Anyways, coming to 'Charkha Nolakha' - a collaboration between Qayaas and Atif, following are my thoughts on the composition.
Overall the song has been given a very ambient feel which has thoroughly been achieved as well. The intro into the first verse of the song is absolutely beautiful. Umair's semi-baritone kicks in very nicely and does sound nice with Atif's nasal voice. The song seems to have quite a number of starts and stops which is seen right after the first verse/chorus. The song continues in its similar feel as before. The bridge is one of my favorite parts in the song; delay, chorus and reverbs on Atif's voice give an awesome feel to the song. When the drums kick in, a very very familiar song can be heard in the background; Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. So, basically Umair is singing on the main and interlude riffs of Kashmir; better him than Atif. Finally, we get a glimpse of the Metal side of Umair with his Axl-reminiscent screams. After another stop, the song goes into the outro where everyone, house band inclusive, joins in to sing the chorus.
I would give the song a 7/10. The listener will not dig the song straightaway; I'd recommend giving it a few shots and letting it grow on you. Initially, I was very skeptical about blending a hardcore Metal voice with something as Pop as Atif's incessant moaning however I do think Rohail kept the hyena under control in this number. In a way its good for Qayaas in the commercial sense; a lot of Bieber fans will watch the episode and you never know, a few might even be converted! In any case, it's good exposure for the band. Coke Studio will open a lot more doors and give Qayaas a real shot at fame, success and proving themselves as the number one Heavy Metal outfit in Pakistan.
In the future episodes, I seriously hope we get to see Khurram and Sarmad rocking out, and trust me they can kick up some pretty heavy shit; listen to 'Mera Wana', 'Inquilaab', and 'Uss Paar' by Qayaas. Apart from the fact that they're just awesome guitarists, there is no sound sweeter to the ear than ridiculously over-driven guitars. CS's first season has so far been their best; it was rough and raw, and the musicians were allowed to do whatever they deemed fit. The following seasons were just too perfect and clean-sounding to qualify for that original CS experience. Well, all I can do is wait, hope and be optimistic!
Good luck to Qayaas for rest of the season. You guys have done brilliant in the first episode, have a brewski, don't OD and continue kicking some butt.
P.S. Good luck at the LUX Style Awards!
Following is the link to 'Charkha Nolakha':
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS STRICTLY MY OWN OPINION WITH ALL THE PUN AND HATRED INTENDED FOR THE LIKES OF GAYSLUM AND BIEBER (KURT KILLED HIMSELF BECAUSE OF YOU).
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The last year or so has been by far one of the most interesting and crazy for me as far as music is concerned. I've started composing again although royally suck at it but somethings better than nothing, I guess. Also, I've had the opportunity of delving into genres other than Heavy Metal, Rock n Roll and Blues. However, every time I did go down that road, always ended up listening to over-driven guitars and headbanging music which apparently noobs called noise. Yes, you...YOU are a noob if you call the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Black Sabbath, noise!
Pakistani Rock has evolved over the last decade or so. There were a few very promising bands that broke into the scene in early 2000s; Aaroh and [eP] being one of the most prominent of them. Both outfits were extremely talented and could've gone on to do wonders had they stuck on together; wasn't meant to be, they were just another 'one-album' wonders. For the record, I think Aaroh's second album sucked and without Nabeel Chishty on guitars, it was just not Aaroh. On the other hand, the break-up of [eP] was even more saddening. Around that time another Rock band came into the picture; Call. They were impressive at first, playing some hardcore alternative rock music but was, sadly, short lived. What happened to Call was much more tragic than a break-up; they lost their bollocks and became the Pakistani version of Backstreet Boys.
I could go on and on about a zillion Pakistani bands who would've done so amazing had they continued to make the kind of music they initially intended to, but I won't. Instead, I'm going to talk about a new band that has caused quite a raucous in Pakistan of late, 'Qayaas'.
The one and only reason why Qayaas caught my interest was the beast on vocals; Umair Jaswal. I listened to Umair sing for the first time back in 2006, I think, at Islamabad Club auditorium. He was with a band called Silversmoke at the time and I vividly recall them covering GnR's version of 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' and 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. I, too, was in a band then, 'Aaraiz' and somewhat prided myself as being a pretty decent vocalist within Islamabad's underground music scene at that time. But then there was this beefed up character, full-on attitude with a downright throaty, hoarse made-to-sing-metal voice mimicking Axl's antics and actually bloody well pulling it off. Umair Jaswal had blasted himself onto center stage with a bad-ass attitude found so desperately wanting in Pakistani bands. Needless to say, I was absolutely impressed.
Soon after, Silversmoke released their first single, 'Zakham', and I traveled to Australia to pursue a Masters. They went onto to release another single, 'Soch' and that was it from Umair until 2009. During that time I was too busy with University and was not too keen on listening to songs by new Pakistani bands; they were all pretty darn disappointing and reminiscent of our very own version of Justin Beiber, 'Atif Aslam'. However, I was asked by a friend to listen to two new songs by a band called 'Qayaas'; 'Tanha' and 'Umeed'.
I still remember the chill down my spine when I listened to Umeed! The build-up to the chorus was so beautifully done, blew me away. And then there were Umair's trademark heavy metal screaming backing vocals which he displays right at the end of the song as well. And then there were the guitars with a decent solo - which wasn't overdone which a lot of lead guitarists in Pakistan end up doing - beautiful licks and fillers throughout the song which made the song an instant hit with me. The second song 'Tanha' which was heavier of the two numbers, and lyrically richer as well. The vocals were a lot more raw and the guitars heavier; this song displayed the potential of Qayaas as one of the first Heavy Metal bands coming out of Pakistan after Mizraab, only much more refined, melodic and complete.
Qayaas released their first album, 'Uss Paar' in April 2011. The Heavy Metal inclination I was teased with in 'Tanha' was given a massive steroid-boom right from the word go. The album is metal galore with songs like 'Uss Paar', 'Inquilaab', 'Halaak', 'Shehrezade' and especially the crazily heavy, full of aggression, rage and frustration 'Mera Wana'. I highly recommend everyone to give the album a listen; if you don't like it, please get your sanity verified or even better, kill yourself.
I definitely hope Qayaas is not a 'one-album' wonder and do go onto release a lot more records. Its definitely one of the most complete Heavy Metal outfits to have come out of Pakistan. And the time is nigh for a second album. I wish the band good luck with all their future projects. Umair Jaswal, you're a goddamn beast of a vocalist, and one of the most talented metalheads I've ever known. You solely carry the Heavy Metal torch in Pakistan; don't drop it. Qayaas is destined for bigger and better things; keep at it. Metal forever \m/!
Until next time...
P.S. Ironically, Umair is teaming up with Beiber in the first Coke Studio Season 5 episode...oh shit, I said Beiber?? I honestly meant Justin...oh dammit...I mean...Atif Gayslum. Definitely wish Umair best o' luck, and Atif a sore throat :P.
P.P.S. This post is dedicated to my friend, poco pinzone. Thank you.