M. Ashraf - "Good News For You [Featuring Nahid Akhtar]" (The Sound of Wonder!: Rare Electronic Pop from the Lollywood Vaults (1973-1980))
While numerous Bollywood compilations have made R.D. Burman’s and Asha Boshle’s names familiar to a wide swath of American record collectors, their Pakistani counterparts from Lahore’s ”Lollywood” film industry are almost completely unknown in the West. With the full cooperation of the now privately-owned EMI Pakistan archives, Andy Votel and his cohorts at Finders Keepers have put together this amazing compendium of tracks in the hope of canonizing producer M. Ashraf and his frequent collaborator Nahid Akhtar as the king and queen of Pakistani pop. Twelve of the 15 tracks on the CD feature at least one half of the pair.
The selections on the CD were all recorded in the 1970s, when synthesizers and drum machines were first being introduced in Pakistani recording studios. The mixture of hand percussion and traditional musical forms with out-there BBC Radiophonic Workshop style electronic noises and fuzzy electric guitars—not to mention the unmistakable influence of Ennio Morricone on several tracks—make for some of the most interesting and creative pieces of music you’ll ever come across. M. Ashraf packs more ideas into a six minute piece than you’d typically hear in an entire full-length album.
The compilation gives an indelible impression of the bold and open-minded music scene that once thrived in Pakistan, which is totally remarkable considering the current state of the country. Most of us would surely associate Pakistan with political unrest and religious extremism rather than psychedelic go-go music, crazy analog synthesizers, and outbursts of ”come on honey” and other English colloquialisms. One of the explicit aims of the compilation is to expose music fans to the rich and complex cultural heritage of the troubled country, and by that standard alone The Sound Of Wonder is a massive achievement.