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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

it's lovely and versatile.

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

did not know i needed "Dub Sufi" but hey

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

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

calzino, Thursday, 29 April 2021 15:50 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

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

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 April 2021 17:01 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

Adore this album

Tim F, Friday, 30 April 2021 02:51 (one week 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 (one week 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 (one week ago) link


wow wow wow wow wow

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

booming post :)

rob, Saturday, 1 May 2021 14:42 (one week 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 (one week ago) link

oh wow this is astounding

ufo, Thursday, 6 May 2021 21:55 (five days ago) link

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