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Mir Kashif Iqbal Scales Jazz/Prog Levels on Debut Album ‘Peak Wave Descent’

Kashif’s first solo project following his exit from rock band Parvaaz earlier this year has eight tracks

Anurag Tagat Dec 17, 2021

Guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter Mir Kashif Iqbal. Photo: Gokul Chakravarthy

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In little time since his formal departure from rock band Parvaaz, guitarist-composer Mir Kashif Iqbal has launched his solo project, kicking off with ominous, meditative prog on the eight-track Peak Wave Descent. Released last month on Bandcamp, SoundCloud and YouTube, the artist also returns to singing as a lead vocalist on two songs, “Paaband” and “Agaaz.”

Kashif says the release marks the end of a dry spell in terms of creativity and writing material. “Writing music and lyrics does require a spark and in my case it comes from different sources and usually in intense phases,” he adds. While songs were adding up right from early 2020, it was during the second nationwide lockdowns in April and May that he was keen on releasing a full album in one go. “I like the album format as it captures a whole journey and many different moods and textures of music can be presented together through an album,” Kashif adds.

He worked remotely from Kashmir with bassist-producer Leslie Charles (from Thermal And A Quarter), saxophonist Jayesh Malani and Jason Zachariah on Peak Wave Descent, which is mixed and mastered by Vivek Thomas. The opening pair of tracks, “Oscillous One” and “Descent,” are ominous, but Kashif’s slow-build guitar work eventually leads the listeners to a familiar sonic plane, punctuated by a starry, warbly solo.

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While songs such as “Rapids” ramp up prog rock, “Peaks & Waves,” “Midnight Drive” and “Attic Run” undoubtedly pick up on Kashif’s jazz influences, one that led the way on Parvaaz’s 2014 album Baran. He says, “For this album I wrote a lot of jazz-influenced music and thus the saxophone felt natural. Apart from the vocals which feature on two songs, I felt the saxophone could take the lead role in some tracks.” Kashif found Malani through the latter’s sparkling EP Full Circle. “I instantly loved his music and style of playing the sax and felt he could add some lovely layers and textures to my music. He did all of that and more,” the guitarist adds.

The more brooding, atmospheric Urdu song “Paaband” sees the artist set a high bar for himself, while “Agaaz” taps into a different, hopeful mood with Kashmiri lyrics, plus Malani’s saxophone meeting staccato guitar phrases. With the longest song (“Peaks & Waves”) hovering at the six-minute mark, Kashif says he intentionally “contained” the urge to write lengthy songs. “The initial idea was to write some short instrumentals but as I kept at it songs kept developing and I kept fine-tuning them almost on a daily basis,” he adds.

While everyone kept an eye out for Kashif’s first move after leaving Parvaaz, the artist calls his first leap as a solo musician “nerve-wracking.” He adds, “Especially singing after almost a decade. Besides that, writing lyrics for my own voice again was interesting. Took me back to the very first time I started writing.”

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As someone who picked up production skills and found new perspectives through the making of Peak Wave Descent, Kashif is getting used to it now. “I do plan to take it live as and when the opportunity provides itself. I’m eager to take it on the road,” he adds.

Listen to ‘Peak Wave Descent’ below. Stream on YouTube and SoundCloud.

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