Burka Band: Arty with Conviction

I'm totally blown away by this music and story. Burka Band is an electronic music group consists of three Afghan women. The group has never performed in Afghanistan but two of the members have performed in Germany. Burka Band is now disbanded. The vocalist now lives in Pakistan. The band members' identity as musicians has remained undisclosed despite their popularity in Germany and on the Internet. Using pseudonym "Nargiz", the drummer has commented on the difficulties of performing music in public in Afghanistan. Read more here.

In their "Burka Blue," they sing about Muslim women's practice of wearing a burka. Most of the lyrics are descriptive. But their deadpan, Cibo-Matto-esque [and Yoko Ono-esque!] vocal delivery strikes me as being slightly ironic. Their outfits - an enormous burka-like fabric that covers not just their heads but their entire bodies - seem to me an extended, arty expression of a burka. I don't know how it feels to be wielding a burka, like an instrument, or an extension of the body. But this makes me think that "Burka Blue" is beyond irony because it's not just about the musicians' distance from the cultural norm. It may have something to do with a kind of elaboration of the cultural practice. This elaboration is both subversive and sincere, with a kind of religious conviction [maybe this interpretation is informed by my recent reading of Michael Muhammad Knight's The Taqwacores].

Listen to the original track of "Burka Blue" and a remix by Barbara Morgenstern. Read about the production process of the song and the formation of the group.

All I know is that my curiosity of Burka Band surpasses my desire to work on my dissertation right now. [I think I'm addicted to blogging now.]

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