One Of The World’s Most Dangerous Cities Is Emerging As An Indie Music Capital

Mallika Rao in the Huffington Post:

Pearl-continental-karachi-outside-viewKarachi, Pakistan is one of the world’s most violent cities. And yet some of the music coming out of it would fit right in at a garden party on Cape Cod.

The disconnect is emblematic of a new cultural era for the world’s seventh largest city, characterized by variety. Outsiders are noticing, from Rolling Stone to Pakistan's neighbors in India. A writer for the Delhi-based magazine Caravan recently dove into the city’s secret clubs and concluded that a “shift” aided by the internet is producing an unprecedented range of sounds, “reflecting [Karachi's] frenzied character.”

Even the band names seem designed to stir things up, with an almost overwrought indie sensibility: Mole, //orangenoise, Dynoman, Basheer & the Pied Pipers, Alien Panda Jury, and DALT WISNEY are a few of the current hottest indie acts. Because Pakistani hits historically come from the classical world or the movies — meaning Bollywood, or the Lahore analog, Lollywood — these independent artists are forming collectives that act as labels, helping bands put out albums and promoting each other.

The best-known collective is Forever South (FXS), inspired in name by one of the first albums put out by the Karachi-based band Mole. FXS members — most of them young men — tend to self-identify with Electronic Dance Music, which generally emanates from a single deejay’s computer. The bare-bones production of EDM is a natural fit in a country where independent studios are a rarity.

But the sounds embraced by Karachi's young musicians also recall two traditional Sufi forms that reign in the Muslim country. The ghazal, which translates to “ score the spins of whirling dervishes, as they twirl their way to enlightenment.

More here.