Ustad Noor Bakhsh

Ustad Noor Bakhsh is a renowned Balochi musician from near Pasni, Balochistan. He is a skilled instrumentalist who has been playing the Balochi Benju since he was a child. The Benju is a refined folk instrument that was originally a Japanese children's toy called the taishōkoto, before being adopted by Balochi musicians. Noor Bakhsh plays an electric Benju, and he gets his sound through an old pickup and small Phillips amp he bought from Karachi two decades ago.

Noor Bakhsh is known for his virtuosic playing, which is deeply rooted in Balochi musical forms. He has been inspired by renowned Balochi musicians such as Bilawal Belgium and Misri Khan Jamali, but his music also elicits influences from various traditions and musical forms far beyond Balochistan. He is particularly skilled in South Asian Raags, which he renders in his own experimental style.

His repertoire includes Persian and Kurdish tunes that have been around in his land since before modern borders were set up between Iran and Pakistan. He also renders popular and folk tunes in all the major languages spoken across Pakistan, including Sindhi. His Sindhi repertoire reflects a beautiful conversation between the neighbouring musical cultures of Sindh and Balochistan.

Noor Baksh's diverse repertoire also includes several original compositions, including one inspired by bird songs. His debut album, ‘Jingul', was released digitally in September 2022 and on vinyl via the UK’s Hive Mind Records on September 15, 2023.

For those unfamiliar with Balochi music, Noor Bakhsh's electric Benju tone and melodic ornamentations will be reminiscent of Ali Farka Toure's style. His music has polyrhythmic sixes and eights, with groovy innovation and improvisation that will make the body move in ways similar to the music of West and East Africa. This is unsurprising, given the well-documented migrations and seafaring historical intimacies between Balochistan and Africa via the greater Indian Ocean world. Noor Bakhsh's music brings this world back to life.

Dydd Iau 27 Meh 2024