Microtonal, atmospheric and ancient. East Pakistan Sky marks the third album from Ustad Saami, the last living practitioner of surti, a modal form of the khayál technique, and precursor of the Islamic devotional music of Qawwali. Comprised of two tracks (the first of which clocks in at meditative 29 minutes) it’s an intentional listen with Saami’s vocals accompanied by droning harmonium, tanpura and tablas. Produced by Ian Brennan, as a form, this music has been banned by the more extremist Islamist factions in Pakistan–Saami himself has been persecuted for his practice. This, coupled with Saami’s age, gives the recordings a further resonance, as one is quite literally listening to a near extinct tradition dating back close to 1000 years. Ancient, indeed.
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