6LA8 (Part 2): Making A Connection Through Music And Art
What we are trying to achieve is, well, just to make some good music that helps us vent out feelings that are too primitive or maybe too complex to put in words. There are a lot of real world problems that we occasionally have to face, and music helps us pass through them and look at things with different perspectives,” said Pakistan-based musicians Taimur Mazhar Sheikh and Omer Asim, the brains behind the experimental project 6LA8.
Dabbling with Pythagorean tonal concepts and the melodic modes of Maqam, the artistes have consistently managed to bring out the poetic synthesis of curling notes with amorphous musical arrangements. The unison of randomness and abstraction in their craft has probably led them to unearth profound depth within the complexities of humanity’s wisdom. They ardently believe that our natural reaction and sensitivity to sounds enable us to form that deep elemental connection with one another.
“Sounds are key to our existence. Most people can analyse sounds and relate to feelings quite easily. They’re able to dissect how a song could be upbeat and optimistic or slow and sombre; deep and moving or light and frolicking. An easy example would be film/games and their accompanying soundtracks: how music can build up to a level of suspense even before the visuals come on, or how they can funnel people to a desired effect,” said the duo who also accentuated on the influence of poetry especially the works of Pashtun poet Ghani Khan in their music lately. In When Man Sits Down in Dust from the album In the Land of Dreams, the haunting wail of angst lurks underneath the torrential twirls of strung-out melodies as Ghani’s voice resonates with passion reciting Che faulad the weenay mor pa meena mast shi; No hairan au pareshaan taar da sitaar shi... in deep reverie.
Likewise, in their last album Consortium, each track has its own descriptive prose that further elucidates the journey of creating the album. “We take our poetry with a fair amount of salt. Have you ever held a deep, dark and damaging personal secret for so long that it can’t be hidden anymore, and yet you desperately try to fabricate more and more stories until the situation has fully exacerbated? This album is about that; about what’s going on in your head as you’re convincing yourself that everything was done for the best. More specifically, the album refers to a metaphorical meeting of you and your conscience, and how your conscience assuages your guilt and shame, and eventually persuades you to break all the symbolic dams,” said the musicians who personally share the belief that there is an inherent familiarity in all sounds despite all the differences within styles.
With respect to merging different concepts, both Taimur and Omer are most fond of Proxy Night, Misty Lights (PN, ML) . While on one hand the album is heavily steeped in jazz theory with the keys employing extended chords and typical jazz progressions; on the other the usage of guitars is completely freestyle and does not surrender to any common major or minorscales. Instead, scales change as the tracks progress.
“The stable, swelling rhythm and downtempo’d 4/4 beats make it an easy album to relax to – with the guitars peeking through momentarily causing tonal disturbance from time to time. It was here that we actually toyed with microtonality but that is a much more complicated concept which would require years of experience and discussing it at this stage would just be embarrassing,” explained the duo who are currently working on their latest album Budget Cuts which will be released in a week. The album hearkens back to the days that led to the formation of the project.
Heir tryst with meaningful collaborations
One of their consistent faults, according to them, is their desire to superimpose layers and layers of ambiance/drone and catch the elusive ‘satisfaction bug’. In their quest for the ideal blend, more than often, they always forget that minimal ambiance, eccentric abstractions and succinct time lengths can send a powerful melodic message. And, no one reminded them this better than Spirare, another incredibly talented musician from Lahore who’s known to dissect music into basic yet harmonious movements.
Although the melange of flitting sound grains spread across musical structures is an earnest attempt in their pursuit of conjuring atmospheric depth; it’s their journey of exploration, within the gloomy peripherals of their existential dilemma, that strikes a chord with every human being. They also strongly feel that any artiste should not hesitate to experiment, innovate and especially collaborate with another artiste. And, maybe it was this desire to connect with a human being with absolute purity that fuelled their determination to tread down this path.
“Getting out of that comfort zone is essential; it garners new appreciation and respect for the diverse nature and procedures of art. In short, collaborations have taught us and given us the direction and potential that we couldn’t have discovered ourselves. It doesn’t matter what the end result is, maybe it surpasses or falls flat to one’s expectations but it will definitely open doors to more inspiration and the process will always be memorable. That is why collaborations are important. Because sometimes they could be the best life experiences you’ll ever have,” said the musicians.
written by Akshatha Shetty