In melancholic matrix of 2020, a melody amid myriad musical tracks struck the right chords with a poignant plot and captivating camera frames.
Unlike driving and singing, like in Ride Home, or the flaring pitch on frosty banks of Dal Lake, as in Like a Sufi, Mohammad Muneem Nazir of Alif is standing in a mass grave — dealing with the dead and deadpan expressions in his new composition.
The opening takes you inside some underground cell where ensemble captives sit around a table of thoughts. The fleeting suspense ends with the allegorical talk about witnesses.
But given the gravity and grim familiarity of their lives—as apparent gravediggers—nothing sounds strange, not even the dark discourse delivered in deafening dash.
The song smiths are stating it succinctly: “Hosh Ha is reminiscence of life beyond existence.”
It is every single breath of life often taken for granted, they say. “Then, what is it to die?”
Clearly, this new track set in blues is striking notes about the realism of the region — whose strife shades it has poignantly captured.
Music being mindscape of landscape, this coming of age melody is a big boost in the post-2010 ‘creative boom’—which saw the rise of defiant drum-beaters in the land cursed with dirges and despondency.
As part of the same artistic gust, Alif exhibited its brilliance throughout, but with Hosh Ha, the band has evolved with subtlety, and striking stanzas: Got the sun draped in blood, say when to die? / When is the droplet to be sown, say when to die? / Some borrowed breaths; breaking into the grave- is that – to die? / To ingest the agony of life- is that – to die?
There aren’t any overdone things — the glimpses of which one usually sees in young artists’ musical works. Despite some of them enjoying certain social-media stardom, their passion projects often lack an artistic depth and delivery.
But this is where Alif strikes gold, with this grief, depth and grave composition.
Known for his musical collaborations and sensational solos, Muneem has only uplifted the sullen scenes with his effortless eloquence. Unlike his previous numbers, Hosh Ha is cast in imaginative iron, with no room of overplaying. The vocalist is shrill, but for a reason. A certain deviation in track—when he pitches it—has been brilliantly captured as a creative shake to evoke some sleepy sensation in viewers.
Perhaps, right and rapt review, akin to profound proofreading, has worked for this K-centric music.
There are scences where the body morphs through ages. Such metaphors, ripe, innocent, soulful and sufi are sprinkled across the music video.
It’s one thing to create music, but it’s another matter to come up with the right musical ingredients sans shallowness and show-off, that weave together with music and video as a complete project. Quite visibly, Alif as a band, has shown resilience and hunger for being best in business.
So, after the dark discourse ends, Muneem and others appear as undertakers — interning and disinfecting bodies in a big pit.
The rich imagery takes one back to the classic cinematic treatment of glorifying grief, for it remains the plagued reality of the subject.
The stunned food table scene, the kid holding a cage of captive birds turned corpse, and the Muneem’s reflection becoming that of an elder character in the mirror hint at what the lyrics say: I yearn to reveal my scars to Him, say when to die?
The video was filmed as the artist lost a close loved one. The metaphors and lessons from such a life changing experience are all in this creative project.
As the music video is getting all the right traction and comments at the moment, Alif has certainly cemented its place as the rockers of metaphysical music.
Resounding remarks like—“We all are breath-thieves here”—and buried camera movement—as the fading perspective of dead—only makes Hosh Ha as the melody of the overriding misery.
No wonder they’re playing it in a loop today.