SOUNDCHECK: GIVE A LISTEN TO WATCH

January 12, 2020

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This is probably one of the finest acts in the Pakistani music scene that doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves, although it is revered by music industry professionals and aficionados. Poor Rich Boy (PRB, formerly The Poor Rich Boys & the Toothless Winos) collaborate with Wooly & the Uke for a hauntingly beautiful track called Watch. This, ladies and gentlemen, is music for your soul.

Admittedly, Watch is more Wooly & the Uke than PRB, but it does have an unmistakable PRB touch as well. Wooly & the Uke’s Jannat Sohail Aziz’s vocals in the song are soft, understated and add to the overall haunting atmosphere in the song. Wooly is Jannat’s indie-folk music project. She describes her music as that “crafted upon satire and, often, the disconnection with what lies within.” Jannat’s vocals evoke a style reminiscent of singers such as Sarah McLachlan, Lana Del Ray and Chantal Kreviazuk, among others.

Watch has been written, composed and sung by Wooly & the Uke and Umer Khan from PRB. There is Zain Ahsan from PRB on synths, guitars, arrangement and also composition. On bass guitar is Sameer Ahmed (PRB, but also a host of other very prominent Pakistani bands).

The latest song from indie bands Poor Rich Boy and Wooly & the Uke is a breath of fresh air from the otherwise commercialised, formulaic Pakistan music scene

The song description of Watch on Wooly & the Uke’s YouTube channel reads as, “Talk — the voices want to speak. They’re breathing in your ear, now too close to your cheek. ‘Run before your feet make a home in the ground — they might sink, but that’s not all’. You should walk, and sprint, and run if you lose their sight — they might appear from ahead, just as well as they appear from behind. They like to watch, their eyes are still not sore — it is what makes them keep wanting just as much, but just more.”

This is a form of poetry, but these are not the lyrics to Watch, rather they seem to add to the atmosphere of the artistry that brought this song together. This is Wooly and the Uke’s second single after Circus, which was produced by Jamal Rahman. While Circus focused more on external threats, Watch comes across as more introspective, echoing a feeling most creatives often talk about. “Here come the highest highs, here come the lowest lows,” croons Jannat in the song.

In an industry where most of the music has started to follow tropes intended to make it a ‘commercial’ success, having a song that is focused purely on artistic expression feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The song gets an endorsement from producer and industry giant, Mekaal Hasan, who’s just wrapped up his first music festival, Koblumpie, featuring both mainstream and underground acts. One wouldn’t be surprised to see Wooly and the Uke in the festival’s next installment.

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 12th, 2020