It’s not often that you get to see this band featured on a major music platform. This despite the fact that it first made an appearance over 15 years ago, is from Peshawar, took the industry by storm and quickly established its own cult following, which remains strong to this day. Therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise when the latest music show to hit our airwaves and the internet, Bisconni Music, announced they would be featuring Sajid & Zeeshan in their second episode.

It was well worth it. Their video, shot entirely in black and white, features a soulful performance by the duo, accompanied by a band (which normally never happens in their videos) on their song Keep Moving. It’s the second song from their currently releasing album and it was first released sometime in September last year.

The sound in the Bisconni Music version sounds ‘fuller’, perhaps owing to the additional instruments featured in this version, on top of the electronic-merged-with-alternative rock feel of the song. In terms of how it’s been treated musically, for a song that is literally about the qualities of water, it flows — the lyrics are complemented by an aural ambience that evokes the sound of gently flowing water. It starts off somewhat mellow at first and then picks up pace towards the second half of the song, but without breaking the slow pace set by the keyboard chords at the start.

This song took me on a massive, massive nostalgia trip down the naughties alternative music trail. Perhaps its singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist Sajid Ghafoor’s singing style is so strongly reminiscent of Adam Duritz from the American alternative rock outfit from the early ’90s Counting Crows. It’s a comparison Sajid does not deny as he has always claimed to be heavily inspired by him.

Sajid & Zeeshan’s newest track, Keep Moving, is a soulful number about resilience

The lyrics that really stand out for me are from the second pre-chorus and chorus — not exactly the same as the first one. In the pre-chorus, Sajid sings: “Oh oh, you better watch/ Something that you’re not but are slowly slipping into again/ Oh oh, you have to take a step, you gotta move, oh”

In the second chorus he goes: “Keep moving, even if you’re drowning, keep your head up rising, you’ll come out of it fine”.

At the heart of it, this song is about resilience in the face of insurmountable odds. About always adapting and finding a way through even the most complex and difficult situations. It’s about being faced with the unpredictability of life and dealing with it head on. Because that is the only way to survive. In the words of the band via the song: “Moving, you gotta keep moving, you keep moving, it’s the only way out, you gotta move.”

Devoid of any kind of gimmickry, in English and therefore already occupying a small niche in Pakistan’s music audience, Keep Moving is a soft, soulful number that stays true to its musical roots. Despite the song’s over 1.6 million hits on YouTube by the time this article went into print, I don’t predict this will be one of the bigger songs of the year.

That’s because Keep Moving is not an instant hit, it’ll take its time to grow and will carve a place for itself in the history of Pakistani pop music. For now, it has already made its place in the hearts, minds and playlists of the band’s most ardent, almost cult-like followers.

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 24th, 2021

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