SOUNDCHECK: PARKS AND RECREATION

January 19, 2020

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“All of my songs reflect… it’s basically me freezing my consciousness and freezing it in audio,” says Islamabad-based singer, songwriter, producer and director (among other things), Adil Omar. “It’s all basically my inner dialogue, my inner voice. The different voices that I hear — it’s me channeling them.”

He’s just released the latest song, The Great Unravelling, from his album Mastery which he started to release, music video-by-music video, sometime last year. The release of the songs from Mastery are meant to complete the album this year.

The Great Unravelling has been written, produced, performed and directed by Adil Omar. The song features American musician and producer Dave Sitek on guitars, Pakistani jazz pianist Durran Amin on keyboard and also features a contribution from rapper and producer from Lyari, Karachi, Lil AK 100. Additional vocals in the song are by Brevi.

Adil Omar’s latest song and video, The Great Unravelling, is an ode to his and our childhood

The video has Adil Omar as his flamboyant self in Ayub National Park — which technically isn’t a national park (a piece of land, countryside, fresh or sea water body, protected by the state for the preservation of wildlife and/or enjoyment of the general public) in the strictest sense of the word. It’s a park for sure, but where the animals are man-made and you can play or take a ride in them.

And that’s exactly what Adil Omar is doing throughout the music video for The Great Unravelling. Whether it’s singing in the tiger’s mouth or going on the very 1980s style-preserved recreational rides while the video runs through different filters at times at the beat of the music, Adil’s reliving his (our) childhood and making the most of it.

“In terms of my own music the reference is always visual,” he had said to me sometime last year when he released the first and eponymous track from the album, Mastery. “If it looks good to me, then I know that it will sound good as well. Everything I create and produce, it’s like an audio painting and that’s how I treat all of my songs.”

In terms of my own music the reference is always visual. If it looks good to me, then I know that it will sound good as well.”

In classic Adil Omar style, there isn’t a singular time signature to the song. As one commenter pointed out: it keeps bouncing around. Adil is nothing, if not experimental, in his style. The song has Adil rapping lyrics he wrote himself (as always) and the treatment is both a mix of electronic and analog. But music you can definitely groove to.

The lyrics are fun yet insightful and empathetic and reflective of how far the rapper has come along in his understanding of what it means to be human — perfectly imperfect. And how life isn’t what happens to you, but how you see it, as exhibited in the lyrics below:

If you could be me, you would too
Step up to the plate, son what you wanna do?
Lower your standards, because every human unravels
And you can choose if it’s magic,
Or brutal, screwed up and tragic.

In the flamboyant video, you might just miss the depth the song carries. “I know that what I do is pretty ridiculous,” the singer had said once. “I think it takes a certain level of insanity and lunacy to do what I do. I’m having a lot of fun. I’m in on the joke.” If you look closer, you will be too.

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 19th, 2020