Pakistani pop and rock music is versatile. It draws inspiration from both Eastern and Western music. It has evolved over time, from the 80s and 90s to the present day. Artists like Vital Signs, Junoon and Strings brought the genre to the mainstream. Pakistani pop and rock music is an important part of the country’s cultural identity. The music industry in general suffered during political turmoil, but it keeps resurfacing and rebounding. The music has brought people together and created a sense of density.
One can think of numerous albums when it comes to mainstream success. However, there are many music albums that come to mind when one think of proper devoted art. These albums have a bit of an artistic edge to them. At the time of their release, some of these artists did not receive the appreciation they should have. However, the audiences grew to appreciate them with time and acknowledged these masterpieces. Here is a list of 5 albums that were released eons before their time
Vital Signs – Hum Tum 1995
‘Hum Tum’ by Vital Signs was released in 1995. It was the band’s fourth and final album. Shoaib Mansoor has written most of the lyrics for the album. Additionally, Rohail Hyatt produced the album. The album saw the band slightly moving away from their usual sound towards a darker and more serious tonality. Songs like Main Chup Raha, Dair Ho Gayi and Namumkin were something nobody could have expected from the “Signs”. On the other end Janaan Janaan features bluesy guitar solo that Is just too tasty.
The album was a commercial success. It perfectly showcases the band’s musical growth and experimentation. However, the band disbanded shortly after the release of the album due to creative differences.
Junoon – Talaash – 1993
Junoon’s second album Talaash was released in 1993. The band itself took it upon themselves to produce the album. Talaash was an important album for Junoon as it marked the band’s first moves towards Sufi rock. The album itself can be classified as Classic Rock. However, the album is sprinkled all over with Eastern Classical Music inspirations.
The album features twelve tracks including three instrumentals. Although, it lacks in terms of production quality, the intent and emotion is right there. The ferocity hits peak with the album title track Talaash.
Talaash was most likely Pakistan’s first taste of socio-political commentary in mainstream music.
The album includes other famous tracks such as Heeray, Who and the monster instrumental Jugalbandi.
[eP] – Irtiqa- 2003
Irtiqa is the debut and the only album by the Pakistan alternativei rock band [eP] (Entity Paradigm). The album was produced by [eP] with Mekaal Hasan. It was Pakistan’s first exposure to a mainstream concept album. Moreover, the concept revolved around three tracks Irtiqa I, II and III. Other tracks populated the album around these three fundamental tracks which told the story of a journey of an individual through a dark life. The retail purchase of the album came complete with artwork and a detailed CD inlay.
The album features hit tracks like Hamein Aazma, Kahan hai tu, Waqt and Hamesha. On the other end, the album features very experimental tracks like Barzakh, Irtiqa III, Rahguzar and Fitrat. These tracks tackled experimentation like never before in Pakistan. It generated a die-hard fan following that continues to this day despite, the band being inactive since years.
Lest we forget, [eP] gave us Fawad Khan.
Mekaal Hasan Band – Sampooran – 2004
Mekaal Hasan Band’s Sampooran album was released in 2004. It was the band’s debut album and featured eight tracks. The album showcased the band’s unique blend of jazz, rock and traditional Pakistani music. The lyrics of the album explored themes such as spirituality, love and cultural heritage.
Many lyrics and melodies are a derivative from traditional material from eastern classical music and literature. The musicianship on the album is nothing like Pakistan had ever experienced before. The production quality was top notch. Of course, Mekaal Hasan recorded and produced the album himself at his Digital Fidelity Studio in Lahore.
Sanwal and Rabba were the released singles from the album. Additionally, this album also launched the career of the famous singer Javed Bashir who was the lead vocalist of the band at the time.
The album’s success helped to inspire a new niche of musicians and encouraged the exploration of new sounds and styles. In conclusion, Sampooran was a significant album in the history of Pakistani music showcasing the talent and creativity of Mekaal Hasan Band. Additionally, it inspires new waves of musicians to explore and new avenues in music fusion till date.
Rushk – Sawal – 2006
Rushk hit Pakistan with Sawal out of nowhere in 2006. The country was adjusting itself to its newfound lot of rockers. In came Rushk with a completely unique approach to their art. The album features music drawing inspirations from artists like Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky and others. The lyrical content revolves around love, betrayal and self searching.
As if the album’s dark content teaming with Nazia Zuberi’s sultry vocals wasn’t enough. The band dropped very provocative videos for their songs “Behti Naar” and “Khuaahish”.
The album is glossy, dark and haunting all at the same time. Obviously, Sawal is a must-listen album for fans of Pakistani music.