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Soundcheck: The year in music so far

Updated July 07, 2013
Mooroo’s Music won hearts with beautiful, nostalgic singles like Kahani Purani and Tasveer.
Mooroo’s Music won hearts with beautiful, nostalgic singles like Kahani Purani and Tasveer.

The year 2013 has been a significant year for Pakistani music with new musical shows (Pepsi Smash, Cornetto Music Icons) debuting on the horizon and seasoned artists releasing new music among other things.

While the first half of the year has passed us by, the rest promises to be equally exciting for music aficionados.

First up is Ali Zafar, who is still active as a musician despite a successful film career across the border.

Ali said that 2013 would see him compose and sing for his upcoming film, Aman Ki Asha. Ali will also sing for Kill Dill, a film opposite Ranveer Singh and Parineeti Chopra, and participate in the upcoming sixth season of Coke Studio. In addition, he confirmed that a new album “is on its way.” The coming days will also see Ali take on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s kalam “to make the new generation more aware of his genius.”

Pakistan’s most consistent pop act, Strings, will return to the studio for a new album. According to Faisal Kapadia, “We just started to work but all we can say is that for us, albums are very important. We don’t get into it till we actually feel it. We didn’t feel an album in the past few years. We are optimistic now and really excited to work on new stuff. This whole process will be fun since we will explore new avenues.”

The stunning duo of Zeb and Haniya have two records coming out. While Haniya Aslam is pursuing a degree in sound engineering in Canada, Zeb Bangash spoke to this writer from Mumbai and said that the duo have a five to six-song untitled EP (produced by Jamal Rahman of True Brew Records) ready for release. While this EP will contain “original body of work”, the other album in question is a collaborative one, featuring Indian musicians Shantanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire. “Both albums will release this year,” she confirmed.

In addition to this, Zeb will be heading to New York where she will collaborate with a band based out of Brooklyn. “I’m interested in traditional music of Pakistan. We’ll probably jam, rework some stuff, create some new stuff and take it from there,” she confessed.

Symt, led by the very popular Haroon Shahid, will be releasing a video for an unreleased single, Gal Sunja, in August. Talking to Images on Sunday, Haroon said, “We have around three more songs we intend to make as videos so as soon as the budget is sorted, we’ll be shooting them as well.”

Overload is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and things are looking bright for this rather unique band. “I think 2013 is the year that everything is falling into place for us,” said front man Farhad Humayun. “We’ve got a catalogue of new songs that we were uncertain about releasing earlier, but now Sheraz and I are both really grounded in our own places we have carved in the world. You can expect many more songs and videos. I plan to shoot another season of Overload Live at the Apartment as soon as I’m back from vacation,” said the drummer-turned-singer.

“We are also shooting a video for our 10th anniversary song, Jeet, which will be launched on August 14 this year,” he admitted. After taking some time off, Overload will resume a month later. Farhad is also launching new talent, including a singer from Karachi called Maha. “Her song is titled Nazar and is expected to air in the first week September,” added Farhad.

The inimitable Meesha Shafi has delayed her solo album for a while. She explained her reasons, “Just as international projects continue to shed rays of light on my music career, the local industry continues to pull me and the rest of my contemporaries down. It’s frustrating and although I’m actively working on collaborations with international producers and artists, I have put my own local album on hold. At this time, there is little hope that things will turn around in the near future. It simply isn’t cost-effective at the moment.”

Noori was unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts to contact the band members, but industry reports suggest that brothers Ali Noor and Ali Hamza are gearing up for Fanta Rocks, the new musical talent hunt show, which will see the band tour approximately 250 schools looking for young, aspiring acts.

Jarar Malik, who found fame via Uth Records and hasn’t looked back since, has new music coming out very soon. He has collaborated with Islamabad-based rap sensation Adil Omar, and is in the midst of shooting a video for it. Jarar has also done a song for an upcoming animated series. His debut album, still untitled, is finished and will release this year, independently.

Guitarist and singer-songwriter extraordinaire Omran Shafique, who fronts Mauj, has a new studio so expect lots of music. He confessed, “I’ve been lying about new Mauj songs for a few years now. But I do plan on releasing a few singles this year. My studio is set up so I’ve been busy recording. Most recently I recorded two songs for a new band called E Sharp. Next up will be a song with Zoe Viccaji and then hoping to get Hamza Jafri in the studio for a few sessions. I am involved in a new project called The Chand Tara Orchestra. It is experimental ambient Sufi-type stuff… more on that right after Ramazan.”

Singer-songwriter Shiraz Uppal is focused firmly on Bollywood. He revealed that he is off to India where he will be meeting with film-makers. The idea is to pursue Bollywood playback singing music. He will also head to Chennai to meet A.R. Rahman.

Uns Mufti and Ziyyad Gulzar are back in the spotlight with a new Rushk record in the making this year. This time round, the line up will also include Sikandar Mufti, Ali Jafri and Tara Mahmood.

Singer-songwriter Zoe Viccaji has various projects in the pipeline but she can’t unveil them just yet. Zoe did confirm the status of her debut solo album though, “The album is on its way. The refining process is taking much longer than anticipated, but some things just cannot be rushed. Meanwhile, Zoe+Zohaib is on a small rest since we are both busy with the current season of Coke Studio, but we’ve got a song for 4- to 5-year-olds out next.”

Lord of the drums Louis J. Pinto aka Gumby has confirmed that a third season of Uth Records is on the cards most probably though no final date is clear.

Peshawar-based duo of Sajid & Zeeshan is seeing a shift in things.

Zeeshan Parwez has shifted base to Canada but maintains that he is working on projects back home. S&Z have started working on their third studio album. In addition, Zeeshan Parwez is also working on his debut solo album, which should finish up by this fall.

Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan aka Xulfi is still running with Call, despite the departure of vocalist Junaid Khan. Another vocalist has joined Call and it’s a coup like no other. The singer in question is Yasir M Jaswal, formerly of Irtaash. A new Call single featuring Yasir Jaswal is in production. Xulfi has also confirmed a second season of Nescafe Basement, which will return later this year.

Coke Studio producer Rohail Hyatt was unavailable for comments but industry insiders have confirmed a new season of CS. While the folk-eastern artists remain a mystery, the sixth season will, in all likelihood, include the legendary Alamgir, Ali Azmat, Ali Zafar, Abrar-ul-Haq, Fariha Parvez and Bilal Khan among others.

Taimoor Salahuddin aka Mooroo’s Music won hearts with beautiful, nostalgic singles like Kahani Purani and Tasveer. Talking to IoS, Taimoor stated of the near future: “As far as music is concerned, I will be touring next year, performing locally with a live band. The plan is to improve my filmmaking and musician chops. I’m leaning more towards exploring anger as well as my humourous side and eastern classical influences.”