Is it even a Shamoon Ismail song if it doesn’t contain any angst? Starting off in the old familiar broody space is one of pop music’s rising stars’ latest offering, Faasla, in which he’s collaborated with another current, young hot favourite: Hasan Raheem.

Hasan Raheem just won the Best Emerging Talent award at a ceremony held in Dubai recently. Most importantly, this year, he also graduated from medical college and is now officially Dr Hasan Raheem. A doctor by day and popstar by night? Yes, please.

This latest collaboration, Faasla is from Shamoon Ismail’s full-length album, Scars and Screws. It’s a mostly Punjabi number and, instantly upon listening to his parts, you can tell Hasan’s been thrown into completely unfamiliar musical territory. His enunciation of Punjabi sounds like he’s reading off a script and trying to do the best he can. But his Punjabi is… awful. And some people might find that… cute.

Shamoon Ismail and Hasan Raheem’s collaboration Faasla is not terribly unique. A better listen is Raheem’s own Adjust

An electronic Punjabi rap song, at the crux of it, Faasla is about drawing boundaries. The protagonist has been left dangling and played by the object of his obsession for far too long. Enough is enough. Time to create some faasla [distance].

Is this the best Shamoon Ismail and Hasan Raheem could do together? I hope not. Faasla is a good song and it definitely has its more magical moments, but it’s not terribly unique or original. They can do better together.

Following the moody vibe of Faasla is another one of Hasan Raheem’s songs, Adjust, featuring the production talents of Abdullah Kasumbi. Hasan has worked with Abdullah on a number of his most popular songs, which include the likes of the dreamy Aisay Kaisay, the playful Joona and the moody, experimental track from way back in the early days, Khayal.

Faasla is from Shamoon Ismail’s full-length album, Scars and Screws. It’s a mostly Punjabi number and, instantly upon listening to his parts, you can tell Hasan’s been thrown into completely unfamiliar musical territory

This Urdu-English bilingual track is about getting caught up and twisted in a complicated, unhealthy relationship. In the simple chorus, Hasan croons: It’s like a fall/ Baby I can’t take it all/ Don’t even know where I am/ Chahiye mujhay koi miracle [I need a miracle].

At some level, the protagonist knows that everything in this relationship is seriously messed up. But it’s like watching a slow-moving train crash, even though he knows the end is coming (and it’s probably for the best). You can deduce that from these lyrics: Dikhnay mein spice girl/ Lehjay se woh lagti nice girl/ Stone-cold heart, ice girl/ Am I in for a surprise, girl?

Completely frozen, he’s unable to do something about it other than recognise the situation for what it is: unhealthy, complicated and that, for now, he’s completely trapped. What sets this electropop number apart from the others is its musical production, especially the electronic rimbatubes playing on a loop in the background. Well done Kasumbi.

Published in Dawn, ICON, November 21st, 2021

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