the pied pipers have moved from hamelin
Pools of creative expression are placid.Contrary to popular perception which dictates that the rule of chaos is imperative to the nurturing of creative expression, the chaos is seldom visible to the outsider’s eye. This doesn’t mean that the contents of the pool – the thoughts and processes which go behind building up the expressions – are in a state of harmonious inactivity. It’s the surface which remains calm and unperturbed, because of the uniform nature – even if it is a uniformity in discord – of what lies beneath it. Every once in a while, there will be that pariah which will try to rise to the surface as a ripple. If it’s lucky, it may generate a tide and possibly drown the pool.
If it is confident of its power to overcome the inertia from within the pool of its conception, it may self-ejaculate and find another pool, and try repeating the cycle. Or it may just fall on dry land – either to create a pool of its own, or just evaporate with a brief accompanying sizzle. It’s premature to say with conviction if Basheer & The Pied Pipers from Karachi have fallen on dry land yet or are jumping from pool to pool. With the recent release of their sophomore album, “Basheer”, the Karachi/Islamabad based duo of Saad Munzar and Salman Younas Khan have displayed that they aren’t willing to slot themselves into the confines of any existing pools of musical genre which have been identified till now within the independent music scene of the Indo-Pak subcontinent.
Their debut EP, “paperclouds” which was released in June 2011 showed signs of some ripples of discontent by siding with a downtuned electronic sound – a genre which wasn’t the dominant flavor within the scene – which edged on the borders of triphop and ambient electronica laced with traces of psychedelia. It received limited critical acclaim within the small clique of audiophiles who keep an ear out for digging out anything which remotely presented itself cloaked in the garb of strangeness. Other than that, it just got relegated to the cosmic dust which settles on mp3s that have made their way into eternity by finding their way to the interwebs, but haven’t found much play since then.
With the first sounds of the “been” on the opening track “Yes”, “Basheer” erupts with the urgency of escape which attaches itself to the mind of an alien upon realizing the truth of his being. Like snake charmers, Basheer & The Pied Pipers hypnotize the senses into a trance, after which the rest of the album burrows itself into the mind with the slithering agility of a snake finding its way back into the pit it calls home. Sparingly embellished with vocals, the album brings together cross genres influences from electronica and alternative indie rock to present a smorgasbord of such an experimental nature that you might be pushed into believing that a similar sound may have been unheard in the past.
That may be stretching the imagination a bit, because once you are done with first few initial listening sessions (putting the album on loop after the first listen had been reported widely on the day of its release), the various influences start making their presence felt. Yet, it is definitely a sound unlike what would have been heard coming out of the subcontinent in a long time, and in a format which is largely unknown. The gradual buildup of “NXTLVL”, the afloat in limbo “Dreaming to You”, the start stop punctuations of “Stormdance” before it breaks out into a cymbal crashing and guitar oozing symphony, the abandon of “Monsoon” which ends abruptly like that brief shower that leaves one asking for more – each track bears the mark of freshness.
While we may continue deciding on which pool this band, which has defied convention, belongs to, let’s live with the hope that this effort, and other like this, don’t die out with a sizzling hiss but go on to create many more pools.
Recorded mixed, mastered in Karachi, Pakistan.
released 16 July 2012
Saad Munzar, Salman Younas Khan
written by Asif Khan/ New Delhi