The Sindhi rock stars from Jamshoro, who rose to prominence through “Coke Studio 4” with their song “Mand Waai”, are back with a bang, and this time around, their music is even more soulful, simple and thought-provoking. The duo, comprising of Saif Samejo and Naeem Shah, recently released their new track “Awal Allah”, a hamd by legendary Sindhi scholar and poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.
The band, which essentially focuses on Sufi pop music, considers it important to vocalise love for the Creator, especially in the holy month of Ramazan. “According to Bhittai, all of God’s creatures are His subordinates and we all should look for God in ourselves and in each other,” explains the lead vocalist Samejo, adding that Ramazan was the best time for this particular release.
With “Awal Allah”, which comes after the duo impressed audiences with their performance of “Mand Waai” — a kalaam by Bhittai — the band has definitely taken their music to the next level. Popular musicians including Najam Sheraz, Ali Hamza and musician-turned-religious scholar Junaid Jamshed have sung naats before, but none have left the kind of impact that “Awal Allah” has on listeners.
“Shah Abdul Latif’s waai — a style closely associated with the poet — is very simple and expressive. By keeping our version mellow and acoustic, we have tried to do justice to the sacred style of singing,” states Samejo.
Anyone who has been following the band’s music from the days of their initial tracks — “Maujood” and “Moomal Rano”— will relate to their signature style of music and amazing vocal talent. Like all their songs, lyrics are crucial to this one as well but the band believes that if the music itself is strong enough, the listener will get the message anyway.
“The lyrics of the hamd are in Sindhi, but we’ve kept a very simple arrangement so that the people who don’t understand the language can also relate to it.” Samejo’s expectations were not too off the mark as the video, which although is subtitled, has managed to move listeners, who thoroughly enjoyed the soulful melody of the song. “Even though I don’t understand Sindhi, the song touched me because of its soulful melody,” says 23-year-old university student Emaan.
The video, directed by Zohaib Kazi, is a simple one with the band performing near Keenjhar Lake near Thatta, Sindh. Samejo explains the spiritual connotation of the video being shot at this particular location. “Keenjhar jheel was very personal to Bhittai as he has written a lot about the beauty of the lake and the boatmen who sail on it,” says Samejo.
Adding to that, Samejo also informed that one of the very well-known surs by Bhittai, ‘sur noori’, was inspired by birds and trees of the lake, hence, bringing the lake into the song definitely served a larger purpose.
“Awal Allah” is the first bait from Bhittai’s compilation Shah Jo Risalo and according to Samejo, it is the written musical arrangement of all his compilations which makes Bhittai stand out from other poets. “Apart from being a poet, Bhittai was also a phenomenal musician and that is why you will find special musical arrangements for all of his compilations; for instance there is a sur called ‘sarang’ which is the sur of rain or ‘sur pirbhat’ which is sung with the first ray of sunshine. All of these surs can only be sung in the way he had composed them and his compositions have come to us via fakirs,” says Samejo.
Following “Awal Allah”, The Sketches plan to release the video of “Nind Nashe Vich”, another Sufi song originally written by Meeral Fakir, a poet from Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.