February 09, 2020


Possibly one of the greatest contemporary rock music acts to emerge from Pakistan, Karakoram broke on to the music scene with a thundering roar sometime in 2018. Their debut song, Toofaan, is a hard-hitting, gritty, classic rock anthem that harkens back to the days when rock and metal dominated the underground and mainstream music scene. Toofaan lives up to its title and while it starts off rather unassumingly, it descends upon you like a storm.

It was listed as the second most popular song on Patari for the year 2018. Much like other contemporary musicians of singer-songwriter (and frontman of Karakoram) Sherry Khattak’s generation, the band’s music is inspired by that of American rock giants such as the Foo Fighters and Linkin Park.

While Karakoram might still be a relatively newer name in the pop-rock music scene, the band members are not. In Karakoram, Sherry Khattak is joined by Umer Lahooti on lead guitars, Omair Farooq on the bass guitar and Bilawal Lahooti on drums. They form the house-band for the increasingly popular Nescafe Basement and are also the band for a variety of other well-established acts from Pakistan’s music industry — including the likes of Call, Farhan Saeed, Meesha Shafi etc. They’re also featured in various other projects by musician-producer Xulfiqar Jabbar Khan as well, including some of the recent Pakistan Super League anthems.

According to Sherry, the biggest issue the band faces is finding the time to give to Karakoram. But somehow, they’ve managed to and have just come out with their latest single and music video, Raasta.

Raasta has also been produced by Sherry Khattak and mastered by Tom Waltz. Zain Peerzada joins the band on guitars this time. The performance video has been directed by Bilal Haider.

After Toofaan, Karakoram kept us waiting for two years before they released Raasta. It is worth the wait

They kept us waiting for two years for this release. And it was worth it. Raasta is probably the most beautiful song I’ve heard in a while. It’s not a high-powered, angsty anthem like Toofaan. Raasta shows the band’s more mellow, softer side — what comes after the storm is over.

In terms of its musical arrangement and overall production, this one tugs at the heartstrings. Raasta is an alternative rock number, with simple relatable lyrics that are full of soul. For the uninitiated, this is the perfect gateway drug into rock music — as it should be.

Some of the easily hummable lyrics go as:
Chaltay hi chaltay aasman tootay
Veeranion mein galiaan goonjein
Dhoondoon kyun? Main dhoondoon kya?
Kho raha… Kyun kho raha?
Main dhoondoon kya?
[The sky breaks as you move,
In their desolation, the streets echo
What am I searching for?
Why am I feeling lost?
What do I search for?]

You don’t find bands like Karakoram anymore. It takes years of practice, refining-of-skills, exposure to different types of music, tons of soul-searching etc to finally come to a place where a band as soulful and spot on as Karakoram is born. They must be protected — before the corporates get their hands on them and ruin them.

Published in Dawn, ICON, February 9th, 2020