Arooj Aftab

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The album I've been most bowled over by this year (so far) is Vulture Prince by composer-singer Arooj Aftab:

Some previous discussion here: Rolling Global Outernational Non-West Non-English (Some Exceptions) 2021 Thread (Often African bands).

The description on her Bandcamp page captures the unique blend of styles: "Aftab’s liminal sound floats between classical minimalism and new age, Sufi devotional poetry and electronic trance, jazz structures and states of pure being."

But I think that makes it sound much more ethereal than it is. The record sounds very live, very corporeal in terms of voices, breaths, fingers on strings. Her presence is intimate and immediate; as graceful as it is you're not drifting through a dreamspace. It's also deeply emotional, as the rather good Pitchfork review gets into.

I'd talk about some stand-out tracks—and I can't not highlight "Last Night," a gently skanking & dubby rendition of a Rumi poem—but the whole thing is organically brilliant.

I'm going to spend more time with this before checking out her previous work, but rapturous appreciation posts of all kinds welcome.

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:17 (seven months ago) link

heard a track from this on WFMU a month or so ago and thought it sounded amazing. bummed the lp is sold out, but glad to be reminded of it, will listen now.

mizzell, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:21 (seven months ago) link

I sampled the first few minutes of the opening track after reading p4k’s review the other day and immediately added the album to my list.

pomenitul, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:24 (seven months ago) link

Says the LP willl be back in stock in a month. The clip I heard gave me the same initial feeling as Julie Byrne. Is that way off overall?

Evan, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:26 (seven months ago) link

I don't know who Byrne is! Give me a song and I'll report back

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:28 (seven months ago) link

I mean, I only heard a few seconds of the song Mohabbat and my brain made a connection.

Evan, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:33 (seven months ago) link

thanking you for this thread, rob! was thinking of making one myself after I listened to the album yesterday, but I’m happy you came through first

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:35 (seven months ago) link

Evan: oh I do recognize this cover. I would say there is definitely a bit of this kind of thing going on (esp in the song you tried), but Aftab also sings in Urdu and draws on ghazals and Sufi poetry and in general doesn't sound too songwriter-y

breastcrawl: my pleasure! and cheers to calzino for mentioning it

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:39 (seven months ago) link

it's lovely and versatile.

Draymond is "Mr Dumpy" (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:47 (seven months ago) link

did not know i needed "Dub Sufi" but hey

Draymond is "Mr Dumpy" (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 29 April 2021 14:48 (seven months ago) link

what a voice she has as well, it's an incredible album.

calzino, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:50 (seven months ago) link

I plan to check out her earlier work, but were people already following her? I hadn't heard her name until you mentioned it calzino

rob, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:52 (seven months ago) link

someone I follow on twitter mentioned her in his weekly roundup of new releases. I'd never heard of her before.

calzino, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:56 (seven months ago) link

she was featured as an album of the day on bandcamp daily, that's how i found her. i usually check out those articles and if the description moves me i give it a shot

i'd venture to say her album is closer to album of the year than album of the day haha *rimshot*

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Thursday, 29 April 2021 16:38 (seven months ago) link

Adding to all the praise. Been a remarkable year in music, really.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 April 2021 17:01 (seven months ago) link

ILM Archival Service

from the Hallelujah Poll, poll Halleluja.... poll:

she ended 7th (along with a host of others)

Poll Results
Option Votes
1.Jeff Buckley 15
3.John Cale 12
2.Leonard Cohen 10
19.Happy Mondays 6
22.Bono 2
8.Rufus Wainwright 2
40.Arooj Aftab 1
― Mark G, vrijdag 26 november 2010 12:59

from the Meshell Ndegeocello: RFI thread:

a friend of mine just played drums with her on a gig (not a meshell gig, backing up arooj aftab...anyone go to that?)
― this is unusual for batman. (Jordan), woensdag 2 november 2011 15:04

The NYC club listing below is not clear--are they playing Pakistani music?
“An incredible incredible stupendous stupendous group of humans will walk and run and dream and weep through an evening of songs by Arooj Aftab and Grey Mcmurray.
The Sea Gazing Family Band for the night of October 29th 2011 will be:
Arooj Aftab
Mathias Kunzli
Joshua Valleau
Conor Elmes
Norman Vladimir
Grey Mcmurray
and Meshell Ndegeocello”
― curmudgeon, woensdag 2 november 2011 15:24

pakistani jazz?
― this is unusual for batman. (Jordan), woensdag 2 november 2011 15:43

from the Return of the World Music Thread: 2012 thread:

Al Sarah and the Nubatones // Arooj Aftab // DJ Ushka
A night of ultimate contemporary world and roots fusion sounds! [...]
Arooj Aftab will perform a duo set of acoustic, pre-partition, sufi inspired south asian semi classical music with Guitarist and Co-Composer Bhrigu Sahni.
The show is at a secret location on Saturday Sept 29th in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. You must RSVP, attendance is by invitation only. Send a message to alsarah5✧✧✧@gm✧✧✧.c✧✧ and you will recieve a confirmation email with time and exact location.
Not a good look to miss this, so see you there!!
― EVERYONE COOKING SCMABLED EGGS,CHEESE WITH TOASTER!! (forksclovetofu), vrijdag 28 september 2012 20:28

(7 years go by...)

from forks’ NYC Live Music and Entertainment listings in 2019:

April 28 – Arroj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shazad Ismaily

August 7 – Jesus Carmona / Arooj Aftab – Dance - FREE

Long Tall Arsetee & the Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 29 April 2021 17:52 (seven months ago) link

Listening to "Mohabbat" on's nice. It seems like I was sent a promo, so I'll check out the whole album.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 29 April 2021 22:55 (seven months ago) link

I'm halfway through the first song and it's amazing. Though its different, it hits similar spots for me as that Alabaster DePlume record.

keto keto bonito v industry plant-based diet (PBKR), Thursday, 29 April 2021 22:57 (seven months ago) link

Adore this album

Tim F, Friday, 30 April 2021 02:51 (seven months ago) link

"Mohabbat": all that balancing on the acoustic guitar cycle, the vocal notes occasionally venturing, returning closer to the hub (yes also thinking of bicycle guitar): makes me think of 60s Joni and Fairport, like if they did another otherwise elusive JM song after "Eastern Rain"---yeah this and "Last Night" especially make me think of DePlume, and a production by Solid Air-era Martyn, eventually veering toward One World, if he were directing say Danny Thompson and Terry Cox--but the singer, confident as ever, never gets lost in the pile-on of my associations. Lots of other stuff on her bandcamp...
April 28 – Arroj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shazad Ismaily Tell me this is on YouTube, or somewhere.

dow, Friday, 30 April 2021 04:54 (seven months ago) link

"Mohabbat" is also reminding me of how "Eastern Rain" and some other things on FC's What We Did On Our Holidays always had me thinking of East-West trade routes involving maybe the Arctic Circle, pre-Ice Age, say (thinking of that during Weed Age)

dow, Friday, 30 April 2021 05:06 (seven months ago) link


wow wow wow wow wow

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, 1 May 2021 14:26 (seven months ago) link

booming post :)

rob, Saturday, 1 May 2021 14:42 (seven months ago) link

I listened to this on long drive and it was very meditative. It put my mom to sleep (which she needed, lol).

keto keto bonito v industry plant-based diet (PBKR), Sunday, 2 May 2021 00:30 (seven months ago) link

oh wow this is astounding

ufo, Thursday, 6 May 2021 21:55 (seven months ago) link

Good interview here:

Of note: she's recorded a to-be-released album with Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily as Love In Exile

rob, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 14:09 (six months ago) link

I had no idea she was an Abida Parveen protégée of sorts. Now there's a legit lineage!

pomenitul, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 15:01 (six months ago) link



Love in Exile performs as one continuous hour-long set.

Pictures help us to live in complete possession of our sense of sight…[they] send us back to life and to the other arts with the ability to see beauty all around us.
—Duncan Phillips, 1926

Join us from the gallery exploring the senses in our exhibition Seeing Differently: The Phillips Collects for a New Century, for a transformative, hour-long musical meditation from composer/pianist Vijay Iyer, vocalist Arooj Aftab, and bassist Shazad Ismaily. Love in Exile creates lush, cathartic, and ritualistic soundscapes that activate visual works in the gallery by Leo Villareal, Malissia Pettaway, Rudolf De Crignis, and Richard Diebenkorn.

This performance will be broadcast on this event page and is free with registration. Once you have registered, return to this page on Sunday, May 9, scroll down to the section “Watch the Stream” and enter the password provided to you at registration. The performance will be available to view On-Demand.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 16:40 (six months ago) link

You don't (and apparently no longer can) register to stream---I couldn't get the cart etc. to respond, so just clicked on the Vimeo, and here we go---already sounds awesome.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 19:52 (six months ago) link

Three pieces, in total a little over 53 minutes. First is the longest, slowest, zoneist, zzzz-est for me, penultimately, but I woke up for final coalescence---main thing here is, this really is a group, and everybody gets enough room, but Iyer goes a bit far into the weeds sometimes---however, on the second piece, about 24 minutes in, he switches to electric piano, and the whole thing is a little faster, more discernibly developmental---on the third one, he goes back to the acoustic, Chopinesque, then she comes in sooner than on the second, he goes to both hands on the left side, with pedals, and Ismaily's Moog bass drone is ominous--she reaches some peaks all through, without ever losing her cool.
I'll check their album for sure, but glad to have hers first.

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 21:21 (six months ago) link

O now this is the shit (occasionally seems like some instruments other than listed, but might be how the listed are used---wouldn't swear she's not the flute, also, like it says, A masterful expression of lyrical and acoustic soul, tripped out through analog voltage and experimental digital filters.)
released March 9, 2015

Bird Under Water
Written, Arranged and Produced by Arooj Aftab

Arooj Aftab - Vocals
Jörn Bielfeldt - Drums/Percussion
Mario Carrillo - Contra-Bass
Bhrigu Sahni - Acoustic/Electric Guitar
Magda Giannikou - Accordion on tracks 2, 3 and 4
Sonny Singh - Trumpet on tracks 2 and 5
Baqir Abbas - Bansuri on track 1
Rakae Jamil - Sitar on track 3

Tracks 2, 3 and 5 co-written with Bhrigu Sahni
Mixed and Mastered by Jeremy Loucas
Engineered by Joshua Valleau and Alex Syner
Album Art by Anum Awan and Yikun Liang

dow, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 23:20 (six months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Kind of a DePlume vibe, or related appeal,anyway, but maybe earlier in the day or evening, and a little more spare?

dow, Monday, 31 May 2021 22:06 (six months ago) link

Sorry, meant to link re Carlos Niño & Friends on Rolling Jazz, but Arooj fans might dig that album too.

dow, Monday, 31 May 2021 22:11 (six months ago) link

certainly digging it

corrs unplugged, Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:35 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

she’s on obama's summer playlist lol

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Saturday, 10 July 2021 14:37 (four months ago) link

prob freaking out a lotta rightwingnuts who have no idea who she is

Yours in Sorrow, A Schoolboy: (forksclovetofu), Monday, 12 July 2021 15:29 (four months ago) link

Suroor might be my highlight from Vulture Prince, but there are moments in every song where she stops me in whatever I was doing. I also love how she manages to jump from orchestral to reggae to harp-folk to post-rock delicate soundscapes in an otherwise very consistent style. Suroor sounds like a Mande-Arabic fusion, in a pleasant unplaceable global way that I guess is the new platonic ideal of world music.

Nabozo, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 10:01 (four months ago) link

there are moments in every song where she stops me in whatever I was doing

I hadn't listened to this in a little while, but I put it on while in mountains with some friends for the first time in a year and everyone was totally spellbound. It's really powerful

rob, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:03 (four months ago) link

yeah you gotta be careful where and when you put it on haha

it’s firmly a “don’t drive with this” album for me, along with prefab sprout’s i trawl the megahertz

bezos did the dub (voodoo chili), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:17 (four months ago) link

I wonder how much Obama pays his playlist consultants

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:17 (four months ago) link

and are they hiring? I always feel mildly owned when those lists drop lol

do we have a driving music thread? vc's post reminds me of a friend who would drive to stuff like Stars of the Lid and Windy & Carl that would 100% result in my death if I tried it

rob, Wednesday, 21 July 2021 13:33 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

Heard this for the first time yesterday and was utterly entranced. By necessity, so much of my listening these days is done while doing other things - working, cooking, chores, etc. It is rare that an artist so completely pulls me out of my immediate focus and compels me to listen the way this did from the opening track.

Indexed, Thursday, 2 September 2021 13:54 (three months ago) link

best album of the year, imo

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Thursday, 2 September 2021 14:01 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

nommed for best new artist at the grammys lol

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:09 (one week ago) link

that's what the obama co-sign will do for you

grove street (party) direction (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:10 (one week ago) link


Indexed, Tuesday, 23 November 2021 18:46 (one week ago) link

also up for best global album i think.

When Young Sheldon began to rap (forksclovetofu), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 21:59 (one week ago) link

she's on my year-end list, great album

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:00 (one week ago) link


maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:17 (one week ago) link

vinyl just went up on bandcamp i guess... last batches sold fast

maf you one two (maffew12), Tuesday, 23 November 2021 22:24 (one week ago) link

yeah you gotta be careful where and when you put it on haha

it’s firmly a “don’t drive with this” album for me, along with prefab sprout’s i trawl the megahertz

― bezos did the dub (voodoo chili), Wednesday, July 21, 2021 6:17 AM (four months ago) bookmarkflaglink

off topic but i find this comment funny because I actually associate I Trawl the Megahertz with driving (specifically, during the first wave of the pandemic, when it felt like the world was collapsing)

anyways, just listened to this record and it's indeed lovely

josh az (2011nostalgia), Wednesday, 24 November 2021 07:12 (one week ago) link

yeah it's def one of my favorites this year, I can listen forever

corrs unplugged, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 08:48 (one week ago) link

Me too, discovered through this thread in April. Haven't come across any mention of it anywhere else.

fetter, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 09:34 (one week ago) link

This album is great, I'm so behind keeping up with stuff, so ... thanks Grammys?

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 24 November 2021 23:27 (one week ago) link

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