From deep within the dark, the antiseptic heart of Aga Khan University, Karachi, beats a sound that transcends genre — a marriage of ambient, electronica and acoustic riffs.
Ensconced within the confines of a soundproof lecture hall, Basheer and the Pied Pipers (BNPP) craft moody and ponderous instrumentals with surgical precision. There is an order to this chaos of sounds; a method to the madness.
Two medical students — Salman Younas Khan, who is on the drums and synthesisers, and Saad Munzar, the bassist and the guitarist — are dividing time and effort between heavy coursework and creating music, which is essentially inspired from their immediate environment, Karachi, and the duo’s hometown, Islamabad.
They recently released their six-track extended-play, “Paperclouds” on social networking site Facebook, and have also uploaded their tracks online for free downloads. The band’s striking name is something they decided on the spot at a gig. The two, who are essentially friends, work well with each other and each brings something unique to the fore. However, currently, BNPP’s other-half, Munzar, is away in Colorado.
“We do express certain feelings about medicine in our music,” says Khan. Tracks like “Journeyman” are mellow enough to listen to while studying and eerie enough to work as a soundtrack for scenes that might take place in a morgue. After all, Khan is no stranger to carving through bodies.
It is as if BNPP’s medical know-how and knowledge of the body as a whole has led them to produce a full-bodied and robust sound with a focus that’s almost natural. The synthesisers, drums and bass give BNPP an urban tempo while dhols, flutes and eastern melodies accented by ambient samples and phrases demonstrate a style that fuses different genres.
“We make what we want. We basically take all our influences and put them down. We’ve got everything from post-rock, bhangra to ambient,” says Khan with a grin. “We’re extremely proud of ‘Margalla Winds’, which is one of our tracks.” The song is in homage to Islamabad, a city Khan finds breathtaking. It’s the sort of track evocative of a cool Islamabad night, driving down Margalla road.
When it comes to their process, nothing is rigid or set in stone. They will jam whenever they can make time and tend to engender their tracks on the spot in a flurry of creative activity. “Like so many bands in Pakistan — and this is the one thing that I admire the most about our music scene — we’re a DIY (Do It Yourself) effort. We pooled in $300 worth for recording equipment and instruments,” states the doctor-in-the-making. Every bit they make from gigs, including their recent victory at the Battle of the Bands, goes towards production.
On the music scene
“Karachi is very open to new music. Islamabad is not, unfortunately. Karachi’s got the Mad School and a great ambient/electronica scene,” says Khan.
Karachi-based Mole has also been a great asset to the band, helping them along the way. “They’ve been incredibly supportive, which can be said about a lot of established Karachi bands,” comments Khan. “They keep us posted on gigs, upcoming events and what they’re up to.”
They’re not rushing for a label and are inching towards releasing an album, currently untitled, and are planning on introducing vocals. A music video for “Journeyman” is also in the works: “It’s going to be very interesting, flashy and animated,” says an enthusiastic Khan. Munzar happens to be a very talented animator and the “strong message” in the video is one BNPP wants viewers to interpret for themselves.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.
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'Heavy coursework'. Lol!
@Anonymous: Not only Shahid Sattar, they also gave the cold shoulder to Daniyal Hashmi, who is another guitarist who worked with them. Who do these guys really think they are?
@Anonymous: Dude, first of all I know more about music than you do. Secondly, I have met them in person as well. They are arrogant, that's my opinion.
@Anonymous: Maybe you don't know but I am in the medical profession myself. So don't go on harping about how difficult it is. They are a pretty arrogant lot, there is no question about that.
I know Shahid Sattar Ahmed graduated from medical school in last year, but that doesn't mean you kick the guy out of a band! That's a pretty lame excuse. I can say one thing for sure: Shahid Sattar Ahmed is a WAY BETTER musician than these two. He is better off without them definitely.
Maybe if Salman stops creating just loud noise and starts actually creating some music, it would be better. Saad clearly doesn't have it in him to be a bassist. I have seen their live performances more than a couple of times and they just create NOISE! It's not music!
Plus, please use you real name instead of the boring 'Anonymous' the next time you write here. I would like to really know how close you are to these two.
Amazing job Saad and Salman. NOT!
@Salman and Amna, What is wrong with you guys? obviously you guys have some grudge against BnPP.
Their music is OK but the quality of the recordings is not very good. Maybe they should get some better recording equipment. Another thing: They should definitely change their band name. Using such bizarre names will not help.
@Arham: Dude, you have no idea what I am talking about here, do you?
First of all, I am not rushing to comment on this stuff. Their EP was released a few weeks ago and I have listened to each and every song in it. For the experimenting part, you have to have some idea of what you are doing! Otherwise, this is what comes out in the end.
Many people in the world experiment and there is definitely nothing wrong with it. But to experiment, you need to have some solid base. These people don't have it. I have listened to some of their previous works, that's why I am saying that. (Before they kicked their guitarist, Shahid Sattar Ahmed, out).
For the vocals part, thats just my suggestion. You really took it to heart. And where the hell did that Aadat part come from? Their music isn't even ambient. In fact, you can't really classify it into any particular genre.
In the end, your last question. I know everybody has different taste in music. I bet you don't even know what scales there are in music. I definitely have high standards when it comes to music.
I would have really appreciated these guys if they had come with something better and they were not really arrogant.
It's funny how people rush to comment on stuff they have no idea about. Firstly, ambient music doesn't require vocals. It focuses on the quality of sounds, often to create an asthetic experience. It's supposed to be atmospheric if anything. Secondly, what these guys are making is not exactly ambient. They're really experimenting with their music and the result's nothing short of spectacular. You really need to have an ear for this kind of stuff. If you need vocals just go listen to some guy doing a cover of Aadat. And yeah Salman I'd really like to know what passes as good music for you, cause obviously you have some really high standards.
I know the EP isn't very good and does sound a little amateurish, I would like to give credit to these guys for doing this kind of music. Though, they will have to do some very hard work to make their mark.
Plus what is with the band's name? Basheer and the Pied Pipers??? LOL. Haha. Couldn't they come up with something better? Just using a name like this won't make them prominent, good music will. Unfortunately they have a long way to go on that front.
I have heard they are a pretty arrogant duo (One of my friends is their friend). They should concentrate on making better music. I was expecting a lot from them, but their EP is really disappointing. Hope they can they a better job with their album.
@Salman: Very right!
They think they have created awesome music, which is not the case unfortunately. They have just released an EP, which is way too disappointing. I was expecting something better from them.
Their bassist Saad Munzar is average at best. Even though Salman Younas Khan is a good drummer, the compositions just don't click. They should focus on creating better music and getting a vocalist. Simply doing random gigs and releasing EPs which are quite amateurish will not do them any good in the future.
I have heard they had a guitarist in their band, Shahid Sattar Ahmed, who is pretty awesome. But I think they kicked him out. Talk about big egos.
Anyhow, I wish them best of luck with their studies and (so-called) music.
GOOD SHOW! Keep this up, boys!
Sweat and Blood!
they're music sounds like my little baby brother playing with his toys, if you people above and below dig that stuff
Honestly, when i gave this a listen i was expecting something 'too out there'. But these melodies and compositions are simply beautiful!
Gamechangers in the local music scene. Enough said.