After a mini album and a pair of dope and highly collectable 7”s, the Pakistani quartet have dropped their first full length album, Nafs At Peace, collaborating with special guests Tenderlonious from London (on flute and soprano saxophone) and Poland’s keyboard wizard Latarnik on a whole array of synths. Drawing inspiration from pioneers Coltrane, Lateef and Don Cherry, who first explored the links between jazz and classical Indian music, the set incorporates modal/spiritual jazz, hip hop vibes and cosmic funk with Indian mantras and classical music. Complete with exceptional mastering and sound quality, this will undoubtedly be one of the albums of the year.
As described in the liner notes, Nafs is the Arabic word for “Self”, and “Nafs At Peace” is the third level of Nafs as described in the Qur’an, the soul now in a tranquil state after having gone through the “inclined to evil” and “self-reproaching” stages.
The first step of the journey actually started on 'Satanic Nafs’ (which refers to the lowest level of the Self), and was released earlier this year on one of the aforementioned 7”. Following up from there comes the healing, holy introduction of ‘Seek Refuge’ (featuring the Vox Humanan Chamber Choir), before the jazz fusion number ‘Insia’ kicks off the (cosmic) dance, complete with a killer groove and psychedelic synths galore.
The frantic, infectious raga ‘Gurji Todi’ then ups the tempo dramatically as the musicians take turn in soloing, taking us along an improvised raga-jazz trance workout. Things calm down and become more serene on ‘Straight Path’, which happens to be a verse in the first chapter of the Qu’ran, and the first song the musicians created during the three days they spent in the Lahore recording studio in 2019. A kind of transcendental, spiritual awakening of sorts, and the album’s thematic and musical centrepiece.
The journey then continues from strength to strength until we reach the majestic ‘Nafs At Peace”, which is dedicated to John Coltrane, whose devotional offering to God ‘A Love Supreme’ guided the band throughout this album. The soul has reached its tranquil state and the journey ends on this cosmic spiritual masterpiece. Outstanding album!