Even though rock fusion or Sufi rock are relatively new music genres, they aren’t a rarity. And carving a niche for themselves in this genre, which is a blend of east and west, bands like ‘Sol Punchan’ are striking the chords with their audience.
Sunday night was not different, as they mesmerised about 200 people at a concert titled “Sufi Nights” at Sir Syed Memorial. They showcased their distinct sound by not employing generic rock riffs and beats from American music of the 90’s (which most bands in Islamabad do) but instead by looking at Spain for musical inspiration, mostly for the guitar solos. The audience responded surprisingly well to the Sufi renditions, with a few men even coming to the front of the stage to dance.
With lyrics borrowed from Sufi poets such as Maulana Rumi and Bulleh Shah, the band has decidedly altered the face of contemporary Sufi music by fusing western rhythms with the use of guitar, bass and drums.
Band members Sajjad (drums), Anil (guitar), Saleem (guitar), Ahad (bass) and Imran (vocals) treated each song with a different method by focusing more on the demands of the song at hand rather than busying themselves with a problem that most new bands are faced with-- defining their sound.
While speaking to The Express Tribune, Tunisian Ambassador Mourad Bourehla commented about the band saying, “There are some qawalli groups in Tunisia so I’m familiar with the form yet I really appreciate this band as the mix of modern music makes it more thrilling.” He underlined the importance of evolution in any culture saying that due to Tunisia’s high tourism the country is constantly reinventing itself to keep its cultural identity while remaining modern and relevant, he likened Sol Punchan as evolving Sufi music to do the same.
Guitarist Anil explained the band’s peculiar name saying, “Sol is the fifth note in western music and called Punchan in Asian music, we try to embody east-west fusion throughout our creative process that’s why we chose the name.”
The band also shared that Sufi music is a declining art form in Pakistan, especially amongst the youth; hence repackaging traditional poetry in new rhythms is a way to make it more accessible.
Another group of people who are pre-occupied with keeping dying art forms of Pakistan alive are the members of Mausiqaar, a society of art and culture lovers trying to revive traditional music such as classical, semi-classical, ghazal, folk and sufi music. The show was organised by Mausiqaar in collaboration with Sir Syed Memorial Society.
Mausiqaar President Seema Khan said, “The money being used to promote popular music in Pakistan is very disproportional to traditional music.” She commended Coke Studio’s efforts of trying to revive traditional music and fuse it with the contemporary. However, she noted that more platforms for such activity.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.