On Vulture Prince, Aftab fuses the ghazal’s existential yearning with minimal compositions that draw from jazz, Hindustani classical, folk and—on one song—reggae to create a heartbreaking, exquisite document of the journey from grief to acceptance.
Intended as a second chapter to her debut album, Vulture Prince takes the airy minimalism and virtuosity of Bird Under Water and strips it down even further. Five of the seven songs here lack any form of percussion, propelled instead by the soft intensity of Aftab’s voice and the delicate cadence of strings and keys. Gone too is the traditional Pakistani instrumentation, replaced by a filigree of gentle violin, harp, double bass, and synths. At the center of it all is Aftab’s powerful voice, suffused in a sorrow so deep that it seeps into your bones.
This is a staggering album.
Fusion albums often add layers of music. This is typified today by the orchestra model of Coke Studio, where an array of musicians often underpins a South Asian vocal. Arooj Aftab accomplishes a new sound by removing all these layers of instrumentation. And in the air left in the wake of it, there lies an expanse that is befitting of the words she is singing. This is, in a sense, the anti-Coke-Studio.
Attaching a live version of Diya Hai.