By Hasan Faridi
Zohaib Kazi is a Pakistani artist who extracts elements from modern Western influences and blends them with mystical and appealing Eastern music. This compilation of sounds has earned a new genre name. It’s called ‘Ambient Electronica South Asia’. It’s not common, but it’s certainly one of a kind.
Recently, Zohaib released his EP “Butterfly In Space”, that features six tracks that bring this interesting genre to life. By interesting, I mean an experimental sound that rarely seems to come out of Pakistan, a sound that brings deeper meaning to music, and a sound that helps the listener use their own imagination too.
The EP starts off with “Cosmic Orchestra” and the main highlight is the voice excerpt by the famous astronomer Mr. Carl Sagan spoken from his non-fiction book ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ that was inspired by the famous photograph of the planet Earth from outer space. Clearly, the abstract track titles aren’t just there for no reason.
“Butterfly In Space” (what also seems to be on the EP cover) is a very spiritual track in essence. The flute played by Rahat Ali and the vocal samples sung by Zara Madani really combine the Middle-Eastern spirit with contemporary ambient beats. It’s the perfect track to listen to as you gaze at the stars looking for inspiration.
“Gates Of Gagashah” however, takes on a journey beyond the cosmos and is perhaps the best track from the EP. It’s mellow, soothing and mystical. According to Zohaib, Gagashah is a fictional city on a distant planet from a short story he wrote a long time back. We’re led deeper into this planet in “Beyond The Gates Of Gagashah”, a ghostly track that eventually becomes more up-tempo filled with high claps and piano notes. The shift in mood is similar to how a person feels when listening to the EP… they begin listening and wondering about the music, then they get drawn in.
With a steady drumbeat and an almost spiritual sound, “Design Of Nature” is one of the catchiest tracks and it shows us what ‘Ambient Electronica South Asia’ really is. It even surprises us with Asian percussion sounds that come later on. But like “If It Wasn’t For Gabriel”, it sounds like there’s a religious emphasis hidden from view, but this merely adds more mystery to the EP. It’s a shame the track isn’t too long, so it’ll have to stick on loop.
This EP is addictive, even if you’ve never even heard of the genre of ‘Ambient Electronica South Asia’ (we’re sure you haven’t until now). Even more, this isn’t your typical EP, fantasizing about concepts that are outdone and boring now (i.e. romantic teen love). It’s new and fresh, redefining the norm.
“Butterfly In Space” holds the mysterious universe close to its unique sound. Keep listening to the tracks and you’ll see how it really is, out of this world.