‘Manzar’ is the electronic escape you didn’t necessarily ask for but definitely need

‘Manzar’ is the electronic escape you didn’t necessarily ask for but definitely need

The new song by Bilal Ali, Adeel Tahir and Hassaan Bin Shaheen offers a unique soundscape coupled with eloquent Urdu lyrics.
17 Feb, 2024

I was first introduced to Bilal Ali’s lyrical genius in ‘Kaghaz Ka Jahaz’ back when Kashmir was catapulted into the spotlight with Pepsi Battle of the Bands. The singer-songwriter’s clever use of metaphors, subtle digs and descriptive writing layered over a quirky composition not only made for an upbeat and thought-provoking song, but translated into a story I could visualise.

Needless to say, the singer and his band have continued to impress me over the years with songs like ‘Khwaab’, ‘Pari’, ‘Ayi Bahaar’, and more. But Ali, with his solo musical venture, is getting out of his comfort zone. His latest work with Adeel Tahir (Eridu) — a renowned Karachi-based producer who’s made his singing debut with ‘Manzar’ — as well as rapper-cum-comedian Hassaan Bin Shaheen, marks not only a shift from his alt/pop-rock persona but serves as a reflection of his ability to traverse genres without losing his ingenuity.

The song itself — co-written by Ali, Tahir, Shaheen and Ahad Husain — is a far cry from contemporary electro-pop offerings, courtesy of Tahir’s ingenious production. Aptly titled ‘Manzar’, it succeeds in painting a picture in your head with its eloquent Urdu poetry and unique soundscape.

Without relying too heavily on dance beats, it focuses on the interplay of bass and drum that work interchangeably — functioning almost like follies of water-droplets, making the whole sound flow seamlessly like liquid.

When Ali sings “Baarishon mein boondon se saji hui / subha ki roshni bhi uspe ruk gayi” one imagines water without even trying to feel the depth of Ali’s emotions. His soothing voice complements the song’s delicate interior, flowing just as seamlessly over the tracks tucked beneath it.

Tahir is next in line to lend his vocal chops to the song. As a debut singer, he does an exceptional job of matching his voice to Ali’s vocal range, although I wish his voice was louder on the mix — a producer bias one can easily avoid by involving another producer or simply having more faith in one’s vocal potential. Shaheen, who’s known for his quirkiness and comic timing, is more serious in ‘Manzar’. His rap delivery lends a touch of angst and power to the song — the kind that is required after two immensely melodic and soothing verses.

The three-and-a-half-minute-long song ties up nicely with the singers’ voices overlapping and reaching a crescendo with super cool ad libs sprinkled on top. Without necessarily catering to the mainstream, ‘Manzar’ offers something for everyone — a catchy tune, an intricate layer of synths, an addictive hook, and hints of lyrical genius. Not to mention a dash of power — courtesy Hassaan Bin Shaheen.

The music video for ‘Manzar’ is also out and marks actor Osama Tahir’s directorial debut.