Friday, August 17

Premiere: Qais Essar’s “The Culmination of a Sorrowful Life” Is a New Classic

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Produced by Afghan-American filmmaker Ali Baluch, Qais Essar’s newest video brings a simple visual approach to a complex song. Unlike Essar and Baluch’s last, more experimental collaboration, “REVOLUTION: Part I ANTHEM,” the video pieces together straightforward shots of Essar playing the rabab in two different settings.

According to Essar, the simple concept of the video contrasts the complexity of the song itself. “The Culmination of a Sorrowful Life” is the first track on Essar’s album The Ghost You Love The Most, and it is the beginning of a narrative about someone at the end of their life looking back on all of the pain they endured. Instead of playing out that narrative directly, Essar and Baluch decided on this approach.

“The best alternative is where you leave the interpretation to the listener and you have something to show the right energy without getting a specific narrative,” Essar told Kajal.

Baluch also was drawn to bringing out something more recognizable in Essar – his rock star energy. When he heard the song, he thought of Essar’s unique performance style.

“Qais is full-on head banging, hair flying, and the last few minutes [of “The Culmination of a Sorrowful Life”]sound like a little rock joint, so I said, let’s shoot that like a rock music video,” Baluch said.

For both of them, the video comes down to redefinition and re-imagination – they want to be able to open up audiences to the possibilities of classical instruments like the rabab. Specifically, they highlight the intersections of Essar’s classical genres and rock.

“In this track specifically, I brought all my rock repertoire, and so discussing it with Baluch, I think what we came up with is a pretty good amalgam of both our artistic styles,” Essar said.

Baluch agreed: “I see Qais as a rock star, whether it’s his personal aesthetics or his music. You can be a rock star and still play classically.”

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