ListN Up: Arooj Aftab (July 9, 2021)

ListN Up is a weekly series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

We are grateful for the generous support of Carol Barnett, whose donation to ACF helped make this playlist possible!

Arooj Aftab is a Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer, songwriter and vocalist. Her liminal sound floats between classical minimalism and new age, Sufi devotional poetry and electronic trance, jazz structures and states of pure being. Aftab’s latest offering, Vulture Prince, has been praised in best releases of 2021 lists by The Guardian, NPR, TIME and has received unprecedented critical acclaim.

Arooj Aftab--Photo by Daniel Hilsinger

Arooj Aftab–Photo by Daniel Hilsinger

The songs I’ve selected for my playlist don’t really have one outstanding theme that ties them together. Instead they symbolize sort of moments in time. One is a high school b-side throwback, some are beautiful lyrical journeys, while others are just musically brilliant. I hope you’ll enjoy listening!

“Calle Del Aire” by Estrella Morente

Estrella Morente has been a massive favorite of mine, and this whole album especially has always drawn me in because of the way the songs are arranged and produced.

“Soon It Will Be Fire” by Hypnotic Brass Ensemble feat. Moses Sumney

Moses with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble? Absolute bliss. Just so beautiful.

“Ya Badr” by Dina El Wedidi

Dina is one of the most incredible singers I know. Her music is straight fire.

“Ali Da Malang Remix” by Bally Sagoo and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

This is an absolute must, a classic masterpiece collab that will forever be in the rotation. This reminds me of late 90s bros driving around Lahore with this blasting heavy through massive subwoofer retrofitted cars.

“Last Time Lover” by the Spice Girls

I feel like Mel B sings a lot on this song, and that’s always a treat because her voice was always a treat to listen to within the group.

“I Know You Know” by Esperanza Spalding

One of my oldie Esperanza favorites. She made jazz fresh with this album, and I remember it definitely had a big impact on me, a.k.a. my mind was blown.

“We Did Not Make The Instrument, The Instrument Made Us” by Kaki King

Transportative, journeying, such careful maneuvering through out the whole song.

“Bye Me Fui” by Bad Bunny

Just your usual sad boi jam, but by Bad Bunny for extra flame vibes.

“Blackbird” by Fat Freddy’s Drop

I absolutely love everything Fat Freddy’s Drop has ever put out, but this song is really just incredible. The bass lines and that sax solo around 8 minutes in… These guys are groovy and moody and their music is deep. They have so much to give on each note.


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