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Beyond the Border: Five Pakistani Artists We’re Listening to Right Now

From hip-hop to prog rock and everything in between, here are fresh sounds from Shamoon Ismail, Abid Brohi and more

Anurag Tagat Jun 07, 2018

Singer, composer and producer Shamoon Ismail.

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Shamoon Ismail

Not entirely a new name to Indian shores considering his Punjabi tunes, Islamabad singer, composer and producer Shamoon Ismail has clearly gone from strength to strength when it comes to releasing new music with slickly produced gripping videos to boot. “Basanti,” his latest single which released in May, is a noir tale surrounding a wanted woman, set to a smoky slowburn beat and smooth guitar lick.


Lahore-based prog band Takatak call everyone from Dream Theater to death metallers The Faceless as their influence. They even list one of Pakistan’s oldest rock bands, Junoon, as inspirations. The instrumental rock/metal band released their heady debut EP Out of Something in April, and it features early riff-fests such as “Jibraatka” and the ultra-chaotic “MasterBeast,” which was mixed by New Delhi producer-guitarist Keshav Dhar.

Keeray Makoray

On their second EP Island in the City, Lahore progressive funk band get existential with a heavy dose of stoner philosophy on the side. On songs like “Sun,” they’re aptly bright, adding a bit of saxophone, some angry riffs and a soaring voice to the energy. The horn section comes in on “Ebb,” making it one of the grooviest tracks. Their title track might have a WTF-level music video, but it doesn’t take away from the funk.

Abid Brohi

The city of Sibi, Balochistan got a new claim to fame thanks to hip-hop artist Abid Brohi. Last year, music streaming platform Patari launched his collaboration with electronic music duo SomeWhatSuper, “The Sibbi Song.” The track, backed by Brohi’s earthy yet quirky vocals, received over 3 million views and set things up perfectly for “Kaam Do,” his solo single which released in April. In it, he takes on a foot-in-the-mouth remark from a Pakistani minister about the value of education and earning a degree and turns it into an irresistible hook.

Poor Rich Boy

Lahori folk/art-rock band Poor Rich Boy, are intricate in their use of samples of crickets and sounds from nature over a Bon Iver-esque quiet love song on their latest, “Thistle.” It’s only two minutes in length, but makes for a lasting impression of the band as introspective indie rock storytellers. It’s an old song, the band informs, with their second full-length album coming up.

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