‘Life Is A Dance’ is a phrase that is now laced with a certain bitter irony. In the same spirit of Dama Dam Mast Qalandar, whose refrain of ‘this is the sound of wonder’ lent the title to Finders Keepers’ first foray into its Lollywood reissue series. The song is imbued by the same carefree optimism of the times it was recorded in, as well as the sufi poetry so common throughout Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
Pakistani music is alive; with dance its natural conclusion. It’s this aspect that is so ably captured across this latest volume in the ‘Sounds of Wonder’ series.Within the dips and arcs characterised by the thundering percussion, Moog stabs and the searing vocals of Nahid Akhtar and Mehnaz, sit the talents of composers such as Sohail Rahna, M. Ashraf and Altaf Hussain Tafo, generally referred to by his last name.
Nahid Akhtar is once again the dominant voice featured on this compilation, as her professional peak coincided with the musical experimentation being undertaken by other composers of the era such as Nazir Ali and Kamal Ahmed. Catch Me If You Can and Don’t Drink are effortless in their delivery, occasionally dropping some English phrases between the Urdu and Punjabi lyrics. More strident and traditional influences can be felt in Jawani Meri Bijli pairing Noor Jehan with sparse percussion and minimal melodies, or Afshan’s dizzying Wey Titly Non Par from the movie Cheeta Chalbaz.
Whatever modern influences drove on this music, its roots were placed firmly in the country’s broader musical traditions. This perhaps explains these song’s strength and longevity nearly 40 years after some of the tracks were laid down. Like dancing or the rich tradition of poetry, music will always be a part of life in Pakistan, fueled both by the tendency toward artistry and the day-to-day realities of existence.