(photo: Baltimore City Paper)
I just read this quite useful and illuminating post about the, I guess we should say, so-called taqwacore band, The Kominas, on the YellowBuzz blog. Here are some good excerpts:
The song [on the album, Wild Nights in Guantanamo] that brings out the best of the Kominas’ mixed influences, I would say, is “Par Desi.” It begins with a Bhangra-inspired, chromatic surf guitar riff. Basim sings about living in a social limbo between Pakistan and the U.S. “How'd I get here, from a land with long monsoons? / In Lahore it's raining water, in Boston it rains boots.” Following the second chorus is an 8-second analog sample of a live Bhangra percussion recording. This segment features fast striking on dhols, a two-headed drum used in Punjab, a region in the northern part of South Asian subcontinent. The syncopated bass accents in the sample suspend one’s attention on the 4/4 meter in the first part of the song and enables the transition a series of triplets interspersed by noise guitar. The sample, in short, seamlessly bridges the first and second part of the song, each with a disparate rhythmic articulation. I give these guys props for their compositional sophistication...
In the interview, the Kominas criticized how media pigeonholes them. Shahjehan explained, “Taqwacore is no more than just a few kids that talk online every now and then. People think it’s like we all hang out, we all live in a house. It’s not.” Apparently six of the taqwacore-associated bands have disbanded since the 2007 tour. Shahjehan continued, “Another thing that gets lost in the media angle of taqwacore within the book is that there are different people that have different relationships to Islam. Now within this band, there are different people with different relationships to Islam, or none at all.”
Adding to the commentary, Arjun explicated how the press has blown up and distorted the story of the Kominas by presuming their liberal, diversified “Muslim punk” identity as an alternative to Islam as imagined by mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe...
I highly recommend following the Yellowbuzz, the asian-american music blog, btw. (Which links to me, I just discovered. Thanks, comrades.)
More Kominas/Taqwacore/MM Knight miscellanea: To keep up with the happenings of the taqwa, please follow the Taqwacore Webzine, which only recently started up.
And please check out this episode of Playlist, a great series on music from Al Jazeera English, which deals with taqwacore. Check out the whole series, there's much more of interest, including coverage of Palestinian rap.
Meanwhile, and still on the Asian-American music tip, DJ Rekha, the esteemed organizer of Basement Bhangra, a monthly, movable dance event in New York City, going strong since 1997, will be performing at Wakarusa. Started in 2004, this music festival was held in Kansas until this year, when it will convene in Ozark, Arkansas, June 4-7. I'm pretty excited that DJ Rekha will be performing, and I plan to go.
I highly recommend her album, Basement Bhangra. (If you want to buy it, don't get it from iTunes, which only has it available as a continuous mix. Amazon, and maybe other outlets as well, sell it as discrete songs.)