Archive for Habib Jaib

Laal: music of dissent

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 31, 2009 by Umer

Much has been heard, said and opined about the band that surged on a tidal wave in the aftermath of a fresh exit of dictatorship. Sometimes, the most vocal and opinionated being the band members themselves who mask themselves under no pretences, and openly declare their motives to be revolutionary and incendiary to the saturated status quo. Of course, this leaves them open to criticism from old-school critics who look upon such plucky, naïve statements with doubt. However, being very much the emotional, passion-driven target market the band caters to, I find its mission statement endearing…and workable.

Laal debuted with the album Umeed-i-Sehar, opening with the melting vocals of Shahram Azhar serenading the listener with Habib Jalib’s satire.

The album can be defined as a musical score to the socially-conscious literature of Habib Jalib, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ahmed Faraz. A sort of tribute band to the nation’s poetry of dissent. Take the rebellious spirit of The Who’s earlier works and simmer in a tarka of a classically trained flute player and the delicate aural trajectory of a lead singer specialised in the North Indian classical genre. The album is surprisingly uplifting; its subject matter largely focusing on the optimism of overturning rather than plaguing the listener with the anguish of the actual.

The strength of the band has been its belligerent brand association with Aag/Fire Records. Its videos have been continually played to the backdrop of an ever-changing political landscape, gaining more-than-average airtime in the form of rockumentaries, televised concerts and interviews. And what videos they have been!

A special mention must be made of the more recent and very brilliant Umeed-i-Sehar directed by Azfar Ali and Umar Amanullah. The video, passed along excitedly through Facebook links and emails, had unprecedented approval from both viewers and critics: a simplistic tale representative of the social hierarchy and the apathy of the political bourgeois.

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