Friday, January 20, 2017

Khyber Mail by Sohail Rana

Get on board to discover some adventurous, vibrant, and bending music from Pakistan. At first, this reminded me of the watery organ music that I used to hear playing at the Hawaii Supermarket in San Gabriel, CA circa 2005-07. Subsequent listens of this 1970 album, revealed an unpredictable, yet accessible instrumental set that was written to capture and express both the overlooked details and the expansive vistas of  a train ride departing coastal Karachi and traveling 32 hours inland to Peshawar. With his breadth, depth and panoramic wide-scope, composer Rana could be conveniently compared to the grand Italian Ennio Morricone.  However common their final destination of producing state of the art soundtracks, they take their own singular initial approaches towards conducting sounds. While Morricone rides (South)West and constructs the colossal, Rana veers Eastward--slanting towards a deconstructive “Cubist” angle.  On Kyhber Mail, he first fractures the canvas of sound.  He then proceeds to recombines his main musical elements (organ, swirling sitar, vibes) and seemingly disparate shards (click-clack percussion, guitar twang, Doppler effects) into a cohesive whole. It all converges into a layered, propulsive and ultimately sweeping sound collage.  To place into a Western pop framework, it’s sort of a song cycle on the playful periphery of the pocket symphonies of Brian Wilson’s “Smile,” the exploitative and enduring sounds of the Nirvana Sitar and String Group, the lush villages of Martin Denny and Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade’s theme “Baroque Hoedown.” With these tracks, it’s possible to explore unexpected sonic realms while rearranging your train of thought somewhere between the East and the West.