Listen: Karachi Duo 6LA8 Release New Album ‘Budget Cuts’
15 May 2015
Taimur Mazhar Sheikh and Omer Asim are 6LA8 – a Karachi based experimental outfit who define themselves as “an ‘undefinable’ duo for whom this music is a portal to better places.” They’ve recently added another lengthy, 18-track album to their already formidable list of releases, called ‘Budget Cuts’.
It seems necessary to establish something of 6LA8’s complicated musical identity before moving on. The outfit seemed to exist in a dimension separate from their contemporaries, creating with an acute self-awareness and understanding that we’ve seen in few others. To say they take their music seriously is an understatement. 6LA8 elucidates the ideas and feelings behind their sound in detail on their blog. An excerpt about the new album:
‘We’ve realized that our past discography may as well be an autobiography. Our last few albums were a bit too personal and stress-related; the weariness of struggling with fate in “The Last Strands of Fortitude”, the longing of an elusive love in “Proxy Nights, Misty Lights” & the culmination of guilt in “Consortium”. Naturally, Budget Cuts is a rebound (one can only be that much emo) back to normality, a considerably chill setting.’
While ‘Budget Cuts’ is considerably less intense compared to its predecessors, to us it’s still far from being “chill” – although, admittedly, the emotion conveyed in this case leans away from the melancholy into a kind of comfortable contemplation. It’s raw, evocative emotion conveyed through a strange combination of sounds, which work beautifully against the odds.
Classical vocal samples and instruments – the tabla in particular - are paired with electronic synths and guitar (‘Dealings at Dhabbey’s’, ‘I Think I found Myself’ etc.). We’re deliberately refraining from pigeonholing 6LA8’s music into the genre/aberration people call ‘fusion’; which more often than not ends up sounding strained and disingenuine. This is far more organic, innovative and complex than that.
6LA8 has collaborated with a number of skilled artists from the region, each of whom, as the duo puts it “had their invaluable grasp of music embellished in our gene pool.” Contributing artists include Asfandyar Khan, srira_m, Rija, Peppermint Sky, Sleep Slumber Sleep and Ramsha. Kolkata’s Oh, Rocket were also involved with a track that is still to be released.
‘Budget Cuts’ really is worth a listen for anyone interested in contemporary music from South Asia. The only fault we found, a mild one at that was the album's length – 18 can be an intimidating number of tracks to plough through and while 6LA8’s talent makes up for it to an extent, the albums intensity and emotional want become exhaustive towards the end.
Words: Diya Gupta