Lahore to Khyber: New album showcases Pakistan’s musical diversity


For the Fanoos project, producer and composer Zohaib Kazi travelled across the country, recording six tracks in their local context

‘Pakistan speaks 70+ languages, yet Pakistani music speaks just a handful,’ announces the trailer (below) for a new musical project that aims to showcase musical traditions from across the country in one album.

Fanoos, created by Karachi-based music producer and composer Zohaib Kazi and streaming platform Patari, is an album comprising six songs by respected musicians hailing from around Pakistan – from urban centres such as Lahore in Punjab, to mountainous Hunza and Gojal Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, to historic Umerkot in Sindh and Kalat in Balochistan, to Nowshera in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, on the Afghani border. Songs are sung in Wakhi, Burshaski, Balochi and Pashto, among other languages, while the instruments used range from the guitar and banjo to the baglama saz and the Chitrali setar.

“We have a very diverse culture in Pakistan,” Kazi said in a recent interview in The News on Sunday. “There is historical context and regional history but it's not breaking on to the other side.”

Rather than inviting the musicians to the controlled environment of his studio, Kazi travelled the country recording music in its local context and in people's homes. The result is a series of songs that reflect the spontaneous nature of a live recording and the authenticity of each track’s musical traditions, inflected with the contemporary techniques and technologies that comes from Kazi’s diverse experience. A series of short films – two of which are featured below – were recorded alongside the music.

TRACK 1 The Gulmit Anthem – with the students of the Bulbulik Heritage Centre in Gojal Valley, sung in the Wakhi/Pamirian language

Listen to the full song:

EPISODE 2: Takht Hazar – with Lahore’s Riaz Ali Qadri

Listen to the full song: