The striking thing about seeing videos of Hasan Raheem and Maanu traipse their way around Karachi and Lahore in normal places doing slightly strange things is that it’s hard to imagine women being able to do that with that same feeling of safety and sense of abandon. This is why seemingly innocuous depictions of everyday life with only women, or with women in situations not commonly seen across Pakistani cities, is moving. Zahra Paracha’s latest video illustrates this to beautiful effect. It is reminiscent of Strings’ Dhaani, which in a video directed by Jami showed women in perfectly ordinary but uncommon situations. Though this feels like it matters even more.
Paracha’s music is impressive because of technical chops that she displays through the creation of the entire recording. Unlike most other music, production credits are not listed separately on this video because Paracha is an accomplished producer herself. In fact, one of the other musicians credited for harmonies and lyrics on this song, Maanu, himself utilized Paracha’s production, mixing and mastering skills on his album Yain City.
Paracha’s musical sensibility – also visible on her work with her bands Biryani Brothers, Dolce & Ghabrana, and Sikandar ka Mandar – uses a floating, repetitive vocal melody (an almost rap like flow on this particular song), on an easy-to-access rhythm of guitar, keyboard and drums. The prominent bass and synth horns are a lovely break on this recording. There is no crescendo here, just a gentle retro warmth. In a recent appearance on The Mosiki Podcast, Paracha criticized the fetishization of virtuosity in a lot of indie music. For many indie musicians, repetitive phrases, familiar melodies, and easy to follow tunes appear dull and regressive. I’m glad that Paracha proposes not just that this is musically elitist in a sense, but also that that familiarity of simplicity has its own utility in popular music. And on this recording she uses it to attach an aural recognizability to a starkly unfamiliar visual scene, making you feel like this reality is not too far away.
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Taaza Maal playlist (my favorite new Pakistani pop, much of which I can’t get to writing about soon after release but is definitely worth listening to)
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