Friday 12 August 2016, 8pm
DJ night from the cassette-only label Pirate Modernity – spinning 7” records and playing cassettes from their impeccably curated collection of high-octane Pakistani (Lollywood) filmi pop and Auto-tuned folk from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
“If there need be any evidence that music is as vital and powerful today than it's ever been, spreading hope in the face of adversity, this tape is it.” – The Quietus
Pirate Modernity, a cassette label and archival collective, will be playing some popular music on cassette from Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora, made during a period of massive musical output, in the early 2000s, mainly in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, just across the border of Afghanistan. Pirate Modernity collected their archive of mainly Pashto-language cassettes in Peshawar in 2013, and in some remaining Afghan groceries stores in London. They have a monthly show on NTS Radio and are working for ways to make their archive accessible to the public.
Afghan music largely lived in exile in Peshawar and Iran following the Soviet invasion, the wars within the Muhjahideen, the Taliban banning of music, and the western invasion, with many of the elite going further afield to places such as London, Hamburg and California. The migration of 3.5 million Afghan refugees to Pakistan dramatically changed the musical culture in the North West of the country. Many believed that music should have no place in exile, not for religious reasons, but to preserve a state of mourning. The development of fast, high-octane music grew from traditional group dances, but also seemed to be something that incubated in the Communist era of the 1980s. Equally, if not more important, was the availability of western instruments and post-production technology in Pakistan. Taliban recordings from the 1990s to the present used a great deal of reverb, delay, and pitch-correction, or autotune, to achieve distinct vocal patterns. Some of these developments found their way into popular music.
While Afghan classical music is well appreciated on the so-called World Music circuit, Pashto-language popular music is criminally unappreciated. Expect sublime, auto-tune pop perfection from such artists as Nazia Iqbal, thunderous drum orchestrations from Noor Muhammad Katwazee, hypnotic, razor-sharp anthems from Noor Muhammad Kochi, and Feroz Kandozi, who plays songs in the traditional local Kundoz style with a very subtle and almost imperceptible auto-tune on the vocals. All the rest is full of offbeat drum patterns, piercing female vocal styles, and contrasts pared down vocals, chocked with reverb, with the taut acoustics of traditional instruments.