Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher" - A science fiction novel and a concept music album from Pakistan

by Salman Hameed

Occasionally you run into a project that completely blows you away (in a good way! Homeland Security is watching so one has to clarify things). Here is one such project by music producer Zohaib Kazi: Ismail ka Urdu Sheher. It is science fiction novel and a concept album - and now it also has an animated video to go along with this. I haven't had a chance to get a hold of the novel, but here is the premise:
The story of Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher draws on science fiction to narrate the journey of a futuristic Earth's Large Hadron Collider experiment whose repercussions have had a ripple effect on the fabric of the universe, challenging the very existence of a distant planet. Ismail Alset, who is the foremost scientist of that world, stands clueless and follows 'breadcrumbs' in hope to find answers to the calamity, a journey which will lead to bigger revelations about the universe and his personal life.
You can watch the animated video Wake up/Jaago here (I couldn't embed it here - but it is definitely worth a trip to the land of Facebook). The video itself is a product of several years and was "was produced through stop motion rotoscope process, comprising over 5000 digitally hand drawn frames".

Here are two other videos from album - and both are moody, haunting, and spectacular. Here is chapter 4,  Kinara - 'Supnoon ka Sheher' (As described in the beginning, Kinara is the financial and technological capital of the distant planet Elaan):
Kinara 'Sapnon ka Sheher' by Zohaib Kazi feat. Omran Shafique and Sara Haider from Zohaib Kazi on Vimeo.

And here is chapter 3, Black Coffee - 'Khwabon mein':
Zohaib Kazi - Black Coffee feat. Abbas Ali Khan, Omran Shafique and Sara Haider from Zohaib Kazi on Vimeo.

You can listen to five tracks from Ismail ka Sheher here.

Also, I was not aware of Zohaib Kazi's E.P from 2012: Butterfly in Space. The last song there, Cosmic Orchestra, is set to Carl Sagan's words on the Pale Blue Dot.

All of this made my day today - and thanks to Zakir Thaver for pointing me to this work. Zakir himself is busy giving finishing touches to his ambitious documentary about Abdus Salaam


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