After Lahore Music Meet and Apocalypse Now, singer, ethnomusicologist and festival organiser Natasha Noorani has wowed us yet again with another project: Peshkash.
“Peshkash is designed to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s sonic history,” she told SAMAA Digital. “Peshkash is currently developing, maintaining and curating a sound library of archival material including recorded sound art (primarily vinyl, cassette tapes and VHS) and oral narratives (of industry members) to further research and awareness regarding Pakistani music. We’re attempting to collect as much data for the years 1947 to 1999.”
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𝗧𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗻𝘂𝗺 (𝗩𝗼𝗹. 𝟮) || 𝗡𝗼𝗼𝗿 𝗝𝗲𝗵𝗮𝗻 || 𝗘𝗠𝗜 || 𝗖𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲 || 𝟭𝟵𝟴𝟭 In early 70s, Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and EMI Pakistan began an audio-visual partnership. EMI provided music production facilities and PTV focused on visual and broadcast. By the 80s, many of these productions were in motion and led to several collections and releases both on vinyl and cassette. This particular collection is titled ‘Tarannum’ presumably named after Malika-e-Tarannum herself. ‘Hamari Sansoon Men’, the sixth track on Side A/pehla rukh. Tasleem Fazli penned the song which was originally performed in Mere Hazoor (1977) by Noor Jehan (AND Mehdi Hassan). M. Ashraf is the music director which would explain the guitars in the arrangement. Other notable names on the cassette include Khawaja Khursheed Anwar, Rashid Attire and Tanvir Naqvi. •also pehla rukh + doosra rukh > side a + side b•
According to Noorani, we are constantly admonished for how disconnected our generation is from the music of Pakistan, there aren’t any avenues of accessibility to it. “So unless you exist in a particular domain of cultural capital, you don’t get access to music of the past or its relevance. Peshkash translates to showcase, offering, presentation,” she explained.
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𝐅𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 @o_tariq 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐃𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 (𝐏𝐥𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐝-𝐢𝐧 𝐒𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐖𝐨𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐢 𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞) || 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐊𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬 (𝐋𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐄𝐌𝐈 𝐏𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧) || 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟏 Finders Keepers Records is a UK-based label specialising in funky, psychedelic and obscure music. Run by Andy Vottel and Doug Shipton who are massive fans of 70s Lollywood, FKR has a diverse catalogue including experimental South Indian OSTs, Turkish psychedelic electronica and Iranian diva Googoosh. This compilation of funky Lollywood tracks is sourced from the vaults of EMI Pakistan which, according to the the label ‘allowed talented musicians to create ambitious music with world class mediums at there disposal, which throughout the 60s and 70s ranged from fuzz guitars, space echo machines and American and European synthesizers.’ ‘The names on the back of the records that’ll keep you gambling on Ghazals and taking punts on Pakistani pulp-balladry. As an introduction, in place of R.D. Burman and Asha Bhole, we have Mr. M. Ashraf and his long-term female collaborator, Nahid Akhtar. This duo would provide Pakistan with it’s Gainsbourg/Birkin or it’s Morricone/Dell’Orso for over 20 years, recording squillions of cut-and-paste sonic collages and moog-fuelled desperate love/hate/chase/chill/kill songs mixing onomatopoeic Urdu lyrics with unexpected bursts of user friendly English language (which often elongates the running time passed the 5 minute mark) and throwing in the odd motif from a Barry White or Donna Summer hit.’ – Finders Keepers Records Track: Naughty Boy – Tafo feat Nahid Akhtar
Noorani said that the idea is to make this accessible through content like podcasts, video essays and, of course, Instagram. “It also is a means for me to geek out with fellow music enthusiasts and historians,” she added.
So how did she get started?
“The alarming rate of musical erasure is what has pushed me to start this,” she said. “In researching and working in the industry, it became increasingly apparent that the notion of preservation of sound in Pakistan is inadequate.”
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Wedding Songs || EMI/His Master’s Voice || Long Play 33 1/3 RPM This anthology features wedding songs from various films put together by Lutfullah Khan Saab who also authored the cover blurb for this record. If you’ve ever wondered what the “hallmark of a typical Eastern wife” entails: “It is rather difficult to trace the origin of wedding songs in the sub-continent. The tunes might have differed and the words might have also varied but the theme has remained unchanged upto this day. The date of the wedding is fixed. Ceremony is nearing. The bride’s maids’ have gathered around to spend most of the limited time with the bride. The traditional “mehndi” is being tastefully applied on the dainty palms of the bride-to-be. In a simple but catchy tune a chorus begins to be chanted by the ‘sahelis’ (friends) on the beat of the dholak (drum). The songs are sung in praise and admiration of the couple. They describe the beauty of the bride decked in expensive costumes, bejewelled with rich ornaments and covered with fragrant flowers. They also define the masculine charm of the groom who is dressed in specially tailored glittering dress, capped with an impressive turban, and profusely garlanded. Now the stage is finally set. The moment has arrived. Wedding rituals are over. It is time for the bride to leave the house where she has spent her entire childhood under the loving care of her parents. Slowly a cloud of gloom begins to overcast the happy scene. Somebody from the gathering strikes a note of ‘babul’ (another form of traditional wedding songs expressing the heartfelt impressions of the relatives and friends). They express sorrow at her departure as suspense looms large over the bride’s future life. Apart from these expressions there is however a prominent feature that underlies these compositions. Amidst praises and display of joy/sorrow these songs are inlaid with valuable advices for the bride to live up to the oriental standards of a devoted wife – to be loyal and faithful to the husband – to be kind and tolerant to the younger members of the family – to be hard working and obedient to the elders – the hallmark of a typical Eastern wife.” – Lutfullah Khan
With Peshkash, Natasha is attempting to get various gatekeepers of cultural heritage and the music industry to give preservation and dissemination more importance before Pakistan loses all its sound history.
Along the way, the singer has discovered “many amazing local vinyl and cassette dealers who not only have an amazing collection but also are brimming with knowledge regarding the music itself”.
“Mohammad Hussain in Karachi and Naeemuddin Khan in Lahore have treasure troves that they are maintaining purely out of passion,” she said.
Put a record on
“The coolest find for me has to be Sohail Rana’s ‘Khyber Mail‘. Named after the actual passenger train, attempts to map out the musical traditions of Pakistani travelling Karachi to Peshawar via Dhaka,” she said. “Rana was awarded a Gold Disc by EMI in 1970 because this sold so many copies which blows my mind because I can imagine this being too avant-garde for Pakistan in 2020.”
For Natasha, this is also interesting because Sohail Rana is responsible for a lot of the milli naghmein, nursery rhymes and popular music that we still listen to today. “This piece of music however only exists for niche music enthusiasts,” she said.
The strangest find for Natasha was from Omer Tariq’s collection (Vinyl collector and DJ in Bedford) titled ‘Disco Fantasy in Hindi’ which has our very own Musarrat Nazir and Mahendra Kapoor singing Boney M songs in Hindi.
Most recently, she discovered that she had inherited the complete (but pirated) collection of the first Quran recording to be released in Pakistan. “The notion of recording and listening to the Quran was alien to the region at the time but Shalimar Recording released this cassette collection in 1976 (with the first set being delivered to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) to much critical acclaim,” she said. “This was recited by Qari Khushi Muhammad who is also responsible for the iconic rendition of Qaseedah Burdah Shareef.”