Karakoram returns with ‘Toofan’ and Pakistani rock hasn’t sounded better

Band’s latest video is a reminder of how we used to play before fizzy drinks jumped in


Rafay Mahmood October 27, 2018
PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: Guitars are broken, curtains are put on fire and there’s reverb on vocal improvisations. Karakoram’s Toofan ticks every box imaginable under what it takes to put a hard rock music video out there. But don’t confuse their urgency to identify as a contemporary alternative rock act for pretentiousness – their music is original, hard-hitting and above all brings the badass attitude needed to shock-treat a dying industry.

A musician, who is in no way ‘Sufi’ enough for Sufi studio and doesn’t want to suffer from the suffocating contracts of an arena where bands compete, is left with limited options. Very few take the original music route and even fewer do it as remarkably and passionately as Karakoram.

PHOTO: PUBLICITY PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Toofan talks about existential crisis. When the pursuit of something else leads you to the crevices of your own human condition and the reality hits you like a thunderstorm or a Toofan.

In Urdu poetry the surprise of the thunderbolt is often allegorised with an unforeseen trouble or as Ghalib once asked, Giri hai jis pe kal bijli, wo mera aashiyan kyon ho (Why was it my house that was struck by the lightening yesterday)? Karakoram fights through a similar dilemma when they say “Aasman jalay, mujh pae hee kyun giray, toofaan,” (The sky lights up but why is it me who is always struck by the thunderstorm).

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Although there is no direct connection between Urdu ghazal and Pakistan’s alternative rock scene, but the repetition of metaphors is fascinating. It not only speaks of the impact of a certain allegory on our cultural imagination but also reflects a conscious attempt on the artists’s end to localise the genre.

Karakoram is playing the kind of hard metal that in some way is still relevant in the mainstream music scene. There’s a good balance of Urdu lyrics and Western hard rock melodies that is eventually going to get the desi listeners around the world grooving. Toofan builds up heavily and has light breakdowns in the middle with a chorus that stays with you. It is the seamless interchange between the build-ups and the breakdowns covered in insane guitar parts that makes Karakoram’s music, both heavy enough for the head bangers and melodious for the sing-along crowd.

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

Last we saw such a dynamic combination was with Qayaas or the earlier days of Call. Qayaas didn’t survive and Call eventually succumbed to the dark side with songs best suited for rain sequences in a high school musical …remember Ho Janay Dae? Let’s hope Karakoram doesn’t fall from grace. Fingers crossed.

Sherry Khattak, Zain Peerzada, Omair Farooq and Bilawal Lahooti form a tight four-piece band. In their individual capacity they also represent the cream of Pakistan’s new and upcoming session players but it is their original work such as Toofan that matters the most and shall serve as a mirror for the Pakistani music industry every time we pull off a Ko Ko Korina.

Watch it here:


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COMMENTS (2)

Ali S | 3 years ago | Reply Yes! Rock is back. This is what we need, not ghissa pitta Coke Studio rehashes.
Asma Mehmood | 3 years ago | Reply Those antics mentioned in the opening sentence of this piece are certainly not original; numerous bands and gigs have been there, done that, ages ago, at least those abroad, ie. The Who, Hendrix, etc.
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