Faraz Anwar, born on 15th July 1976 in Karachi, is a progressive Rock Guitarist. He started his music journey at the age of six when he, for the very first time, saw Yngwie Malmsteen on T.V. The bone chilling inspiration led him to pick up guitar as his beloved instrument.
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Posted 19 Dec 2009 in In the Press, Reviews by RamEEz
Faraz Anwar’s Guitar Idol entry created a lot of hype not only on the internet but a couple of media channels also gave coverage to Guitar Idol 2009. From online forums and blogs to Facebook, Pakistani’s around the world supported Faraz Anwar and voted for him throughout the competition and made it possible for him to enter into the UK Live Final.
Latest Interview of Faraz Anwar for The News Instep
By: Asra Pasha
Published: Friday June 12th, 2009
“Guitar Idol requires us to travel to UK for the live performance. I tried to figure out a way of visiting UK this month but it wasn’t possible.”
Faraz Anwar speaks on the Guitar Idol experience and why he had to pull out of the show
Faraz Anwar, the man behind alternative rock band Mizraab, has become the only Pakistani guitarist who has made it to the finals of Guitar Idol. But despite making the cut, Faraz had to pull out of the show due to visa issues.
“Guitar Idol is an online talent search to find the hottest ‘undiscovered’ guitarists in the world. Staged over 3 online Heats and a final online knockout round thousands of guitarists will battle for 12 places to perform live on the main stage at the massive London International Music Show in June 2009 and be crowned Worldwide Guitar Idol 2009,” states the website, guitaridol.tv where fans get to vote alongside judges.
Even though, Faraz Anwar eventually had to pull out, his entry into the competition has brought him in the spotlight. From online forums and blogs to Facebook, the buzz around this particular gig has been rising.
As Guitar Idol gets underway today in the UK, Instep Today catches up with Faraz Anwar to find out more about the Guitar Idol experience, the reasons for pulling out and more…
Instep Today: Tell us about the Guitar Idol experience?
Faraz Anwar: I am a self-taught guitarist and belong to a country where there is no understating of my work, which is progressive rock whatsoever, let alone any appreciation. In this contest I secured the third rank out of some over 150 participants form across the world. Every level of competition tells you something about yourself.
Instep Today: Why did you pull out of the show that is being held in the UK?
Faraz Anwar: I had earlier applied for student visa in UK, which I received just recently but before the voting closed for Guitar Idol. This visa is valid from September 2009.
The tour for GI requires us to travel to UK in June for the live performance. When the results came out, I tried to figure out a way of visiting UK in June before my first visa, but the embassy told me that it wasn’t possible. Legally, an individual can hold only one visa at a time. Either I had to withdraw from the previous visa or this. Since the former means a professional music course in the UK and that too under a firm and approved scholarship, I had no other option than to withdraw myself from the final contest.
But GI and I are both confident, that the next year when I’d still be in the UK, I will contest and let’s see if I am lucky again.
Instep Today: You haven’t enjoyed commercial success too much…
Faraz Anwar: Not every person out there is producing music to churn money. A true artist only creates without the fear of rejection because he knows that what he knows is recognizable by those few who are capable.
I can safely say that I don’t stand there alone as an artist who has failed to produce music which is commercially viable.
When you know something you grow a gut to show it off, regardless of the fear of rejection and imbibed with the spirit of competition.
Instep Today: The general perception about you is that you are not interested in releasing your work here…
Faraz Anwar: When I went to Czech Republic last for a live performance, I was greeted with fans more than 70 years old. It’s surprising if they come and appreciate me and say that I made them “recall days from their youth”.
And when any Eastern classical album is released there, the audiences show equal interest in them. This is how our artists are encouraged to go and perform there with equal zeal, even more.
This is only possible because western record labels encourage newer forms of music too. The only way to introduce the audience to any art form is to release it for them.
In an attempt to get my work released in Pakistan, I showed my work to several record labels, but they all rejected it while the same was released in the US and Finland and it remains a successful venture.
Mizraab’s album Maazi, Haal, Mustaqbil was also accepted with much reluctance but the public did purchase and heard it and that’s how Mizraab is known.
Instep Today: What about record labels like Fire Records or others?
Faraz Anwar: I was in negotiations with The Musik but it became clear that it was not going anywhere. The terms of contract are often such that a true artist would rather remain unknown than sell his work like that.
Three years back Fire Records were considering my solo work. After sitting on it for eons, they called me one fine afternoon during Ramazan. It took me more than a good half hour to find parking space there, just to go upstairs and meet my host and hear him say, “we loved your work, but we have actually considered to release it after one year”, which never happened. This could have been done through a simple email too.
On the other hand, the foreign record labels keep a little more in mind more than the ethics of business they have in mind.
The one record company that has released my album from Finland, you would not believe that often they have run out of funds to pay their staff but they have never violated the contract that I have with them. My royalty share has never been missed.
The bottom line is that it’s a stark contrast and one cannot ignore it. Also when you have worked with people who are so fair and professional in their way of working, it’s extremely difficult to appreciate people on the other extreme.
Published: November 30th, 2004
Reviewed by: Ron Fuchs
Now this is what I’m talking about! A breakthrough, dare I say progressive neo-classical work of art that is by far one of the few appealing releases Lion Music has to offer. Faraz Anwar’s debut album, a solo project that was released in 2001 with absolutely no sound, and now in 2004 it was re-released by Lion Music.
Abstract Point Of View is a complex body of all-instrumental guitar-driven neo-classical progressive metal / fusion, that borders on old and new influences and hiss self-confessed Holdsworth influences are very obvious yet not cloned. The main styles you hear are jazz-fusion, metal and symphonic rock, all done tastefully together to give by far one of the best instrumental releases in modern times. So all of you instrumental prog /metal fans, get this release now. You will not regret it, in fact you’ll long for more Anwar
1. Through The Passage of Time
5. Don’t Ever Let Your Spirit Die
6. Last Summer
Published: November 17th 2004
Reviewed by: Duncan Glenday
This may be a mistaken assumption, but one imagines that the yellow pages in Pakistan do not contain a huge selection of guitar teachers specializing in rock, metal, fusion and jazz. Apparently influenced by an early Malmsteen video, a young Faraz Anwar honed his craft from the Paul Gilbert tutorials – and has emerged as a guitar virtuoso with a standard of musicianship and classical sensibility that stands shoulder to shoulder with the Satriani / Vai / McAlpine / Johnson set. This is his debut album, essentially a solo project that was released in 2001 with zero acclaim, and has now been re-released by Lion records.
Abstract Point Of View is a complex body of all-instrumental guitar-driven neo-classical progressive metal / fusion, and Anwar’s self-confessed Holdsworth influences are abundantly clear. The style is more DiMeola than Satriani, more McLaughlin than Malmsteen. The jazz influences, the frequent lapses into symphonic rock and the relentlessly driving rhythm section conspire to form a challenging album that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
True, like most virtuosos, the music doesn’t sit well in the background. Concentrated listens will reward the discerning listener – there are very complex musical structures, there are melodious sections and there are intricate and lightning quick passages and the compositions are abstract, and despite all that complexity, there’s plenty of melody. But turn the volume down and divert your attention to other activities and it all sounds the same.
Track 5 “Last Summer” is a particularly melodic piece, and the final track of the 6 in this 46-minute album is a 10½ minute progressive mini-epic called “Why?”, with more textures and variety than the rest of the CD. It kicks off with a synthesized hint of southern Asian sounds, and develops into a well textured piece with a wonderfully melodic piano presence and less of the guitar virtuoso approach.
This CD will be manna for the musical intellectual. Remember the name: All he needs to do is lose the drum machine, and Faraz Anwar has the potential to become the logical successor to Alan Holdsworth.
1. Through The Passage of Time: 12.44
2. Maze: 4.53
3. Prophet: 6.56
4. Don’t Ever Let Our Spirit Die: 5.30
5. Last Summer: 4.46
6. Why?: 10.28
Added: November 17th 2004
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score: 4.5 / 5
Source: Sea Of Tranquility
Published: September 2004
By: iO Pages (Dutch Magazine) (Issue 54)
The last couple of months there has been a revival of musicians that make a mixture of progressive metal, jazz-rock and classical techniques. Examples are the last CD’s from Tony MacAlpine, Vinnie Moore and Anand Mahangoe (a Dutch player). From a very unexpected corner, namely Pakistan, comes an artist who doesn’t express this so much in separate compositions, but far more into one song.
His name is Faraz Anwar and you could describe Abstract Point Of View, the album that he has released under his first name, therefore as complex symphonic jazz-rock-prog-metal, which even can be called epic in two cases. To make it a bit more concrete you could consider the CD a fusion from the lack of uninhibited of the first Dream Theater and the melodic flashy licks from Satriani and Holdsworth. The two pieces that are clocking above 10 minutes (Through The Passage Of Time and Why?) have a generous dose of changes in spheres, genres and rhythms. Solemn Satriani-like, symphonic passages, several guitar-lines played at the same time, samples from spoken words, heavy prog-metal-chords, fine bass-work in a Skuli Sverrissons style and very cleaver jazz-rock-solo’s follow each other in quick succession.But a trained ear will never have the impression that Faraz is making a mess of it, which is mainly made possible because he lards his compositions with a healthy dosis of catchy melodies. It’s remarkable that the shorter songs have the same complexity, with the exception of the rocker Last Summer. A nice detail hereby is that this is the only track in which a drummer appears; in the remaining song Faraz uses programmed rhythms in a reasonable way. Abstract Point Of View has a lot to offer and surprises every time again. Who would for instance expect a stately Irish tune (in Why?) or typical Western classical piano-riffs from a musician from Pakistan?
This is a translation of a review that was published in the Dutch progressive rock magazine iO Pages.
Published: August 2004
Reviewed by:Chris Ruel
Some albums you might listen to are immediately perceivable for their musical scope and vision. Other albums, such as Abstract Point Of View, require time to settle in and time for adjustment to a fresh, new perspective. Always zeroing in on the guitar technique to give me clues to the relative prominence of the musicians involved, I was first struck by the guitar work on this CD so that I realized I needed to stand back from the trees to get a better look at the forest. This is because I immediately realized that there was more going on here than could be absorbed the first time through this strictly instrumental album.
The guitar work by Faraz Anwar on Abstract Point Of View covers a lot of ground and has some very intricate and speedy passages. Faraz being a self-proclaimed disciple of Allan Holdsworth, this came as no surprise to me after listening to the album and searching the liner notes for clues about his influences. One characteristic that I truly enjoyed about Faraz’s approach,
was that despite that he integrates a lot of outside harmonization and unorthodox scales, he does this in a manner that weaves this complex harmonization into cohesive music with a distinctive and readily-perceivable musical vision. This is truly a difficult objective to undertake, and Faraz has done this on this album with awesome success. Faraz has struck a tenuous balance between tonal exploration and cohesive musical vision that will keep captive the attention of progressive musicians in pondering it. This being said, I feel obligated to point out that much of the harmonization is outside and approaching dissonant boundaries and this may be difficult for some to digest, though I suspect that the educated ear is going to indulge in this harmonious feast.
A lot of times you may hear an album where the musicians are going for an exploratory, outside sound that incorporates odd time signatures and unorthodox scales, patterns, etc., and these albums do succeed in exploring new musical ideas but they come up short for listener accessibility. This was the issue that I struggled with most in absorbing this album. In order to incorporate some worthwhile outside harmonization, Faraz needed to push the boundaries of accessibility which he did do. But, the struggle that I feel that he underwent in producing this album, was that he put a lot of effort into orchestrating the exploratory tonality in a manner that made sense as a whole. Faraz has put the outside harmonization into a compositional context that allows the creative and boundary-stretching tonality to work in a synergistic manner rather than an impeding one. And, Faraz tactfully and sparingly deploys some consonant, melodious reprieves from the dissonance that further help to make the music more digestible. Upon the full realization of what Faraz had undertaken and achieved on this album, I was very awe-struck, because there are very few musicians that I have heard that have been able to balance outside exploration with musical cohesion.
Characterizing the sound of this album is no easy matter either. It is definitely very progressive in nature and is on the heavy side with the aggressive fretwork and guitar tones used. But, once again there is some balance here whereby there are other elements that ground the sound from being strictly heavy. There are some wonderful piano / keyboard passages that highlight the music, though the guitar work is paramount in the focus. There are also some melodically, slower guitar sections that add yet another dimension to the music. The overall integration of the instrumentation is tactfully and well produced, making for a very coherent sounds cape. The guitar technique covers a lot of ground, and though the music is decidedly guitar-intensive and shows off some impressive pyrotechnics, the fretwork does seem to be used more of a tool and within the context of a musical vision than for its own sake. And, because the guitar work is used as a compositional tool, there are places where the throttle is let down from the other places where the blazing fast runs dominate. But, this variance in dynamics actually helps the musical vision by giving it more scope and avoiding the pitfall of unrelenting speed that many guitarists fall prey. But, do not despair if you like your guitar served up hard and fast, because there is plenty of aggressive speed here for you to quench your thirst for scorching fretwork. It is just packaged in a format where it is accompanied by an enjoyable listen.
Though the entire album is consistent in the fine level of playing and composition put forth, I thought to describe one track in particular to give an idea of the emotional content and how it is articulated through the advanced harmonization that Faraz deploys. The final track, “Why?”, truly captures the feeling of a person struggling with some soul-torturing question that the composition voices. Faraz struggles with the question to the point where his mind is obviously tormented, plunging him ever downward, all conveyed by the energy, tonality, and feel, until he is on the brink of madness voiced by an eery piano passage. Then when it seems that all has been lost, an emancipating, melodic theme emerges from the bewilderment, and though it is laden with bittersweet, outside harmonies, this theme pulls Faraz out of the depths of his despair with an apparently new view or understanding of the problem he ponders in “Why?”. This new theme changes the course of the music and opens up new exploration of the problem with musical articulation of the struggle that emerges from this change in direction with more positive sounding resolutions that are constantly being challenged by the outside sections. The struggle articulated is both disturbing and satisfying in musical content. And, the genius demonstrated, is that Faraz has been able to successfully capture the torment of what seems to me to be that of love lost. (I sure would like to know what “Why?” is really about, though!)
So, in summary, I would say that Faraz is not for the meek or faint of musical heart. Faraz is very progressive in the tonality he incorporates into his compositions and he does not hold back his ripping speed. The compositions are abstract and are based upon some complex harmonization, so you had best be prepared for this if you are going to check this album out. And, be prepared for the shadowy darkness that lurks in Faraz’s soul that gives this album its characteristic feel. Overall, I think this is a really cool CD and Faraz applies some very compelling judgment in the balancing of his exploratory tonality and compositional integrity / accessibility. Check it out!
1) Through The Passage Of Time
4) Don’t Ever Let Your Spirit Die
5) Last Summer
Published: Friday 23rd July, 2004
Very seldom do you hear virtuoso electric guitar music that has a truely progressive nature. So many guitarists have descended upon the music world in such a short time period, and very few of these players are showing any visionary tendancies, particularly when considering the quality of the compositions, or any individuality to their approach to music in general. We have been inundated with players that merely want to show us that they are swift manipulators of scales, licks and rhetorical copycating.
How refreshing to hear this cd on the other hand. Faraz Anwar, could have easily chosen a different path in life, and to his parents dismay, he dedicated himself to that grand ole pastime of shredding the electric guitar. Yet in Faraz’s case, his mind for music was seemingly aready advanced beyond simply learning to play like the greats. He shows a masterful taste for brilliant arrangements, something all too rare in the field of instrumental guitar music. Anwar reaches a new standard for his ability to take his instrument away from excessive noodling, and goes
great lengths to provide the most demanding listeners a predominantly progressive and sophisticated piece of work on this cd.
His style varies in form, he can derive many of the tonal aspects of fusion, in particular, Allan Holdsworth, who he cites as a huge influence. Other facets to his playing are more from the heavier side of electric/instrumental music. With hints of some of the better players such as Petrucci, Vinnie Moore or Greg Howe. A nice marriage of influnces, all of which define him as an individual, his fluid and dexterous soloing skills are as good as they get. But to me, the most dominant feature that makes this cd so highy recommendable, is the way he composes. The songs are complex, calculated, and sophisticatedly constructed. This alone would appeal to a great number of fans of progressive music. The fact that he is a world class player only adds to the magic of this impressive cd.
The list of electric guitarists that are great composers is surprisingly small in comparison with how many great players there are. Add Anwar to both lists, and keep an eye out for this cd, as well as anything he may be working on in the near future.
Artist: Faraz Anwar
Album: Abstract Point of View
Release Date: December 2001
Record Label: Gnarly Geezer
Rating: 5 stars
“Abstract Point of View” is the first solo instrumental album by guitar-guru Faraz Anwar. It was released internationally by Gnarly Geezer Records in 2001. It’s all about what Faraz has learnt and felt in last 12 years, since he has been friends with the six-string. The album was completed in just four months at Digital Fidelity Studios Lahore. Mekaal engineered and recorded it and Faraz produced the album himself.
Although these 45 minutes of sheer virtuosity are divided in six instrumentals but they all seem to be interwoven. When a track ends, the next one seems emerging from it. It takes you ahead from where the last track left you. It’s about different feelings and emotions that we come across in our everyday lives. But it wasn’t at all easy to make the musical notes speak and make the listener feel all that. Because it needs much more
virtuosity to express things without words. It’s easier to relate to songs because they have words, which can be understood by every human being but everyone cannot feel instrumentals. For all the listeners who can feel music, this is a package of ultimate delight. But this is a bit different from the rest because it’s “Abstract Point of View”, so aptly named.
Through The Passage Of Time:
In this instrumental, Faraz takes you on a journey through the time. At times, time makes you growl and at others it may be on your side, but you never know. It’s about how you mature and learn through the passage of time. What you want and seek? What you lose and gain?
Everyone comes across a maze, at least once in a lifetime. When darkness prevails everywhere and you’re left all alone. You just open your eyes and feel that you are lost in the maze. As soon as your consciousness returns, you try to find your way. You start finding your path slowly and then you run with a hope that it might help. Sometimes when you feel that you’ve got your destination, there is the beginning of another maze. It never ends and nothing happens. You become hopeless and feel like crying and all of a sudden these cries turn to screams. You curse everything. In the end, you are calm leaving everything to your fate because you tried your level best but this didn’t pay off.
The praying pays off and a prophet comes along. This prophet is not a messenger of Allah. This might be any of your friend or soul mate. He growls at you, yells at you for the things that you had been doing, were not right. The way you were trying to solve your problems were wrong. But you make him realize that you tried your level best. He caresses you. With the passage of time you start trusting & confiding in him. He bucks you up when you’re right and points out when you’re wrong. And then you become at harmony with him.
Don’t Let Your Spirits Die:
It’s a song of hope. The guitar provides you with the energy to carry on. Because life is a game of nerves and all you need is to never give up.
There was something very special about last summer. Although it was hot, but still it was the coolest of all. Every note portrays freshness & joyfulness. He was so happy. The sense of achievement he had last summer is hard to express in words. It was surely a heavenly feeling, something really out of this world. It was so romantic, so full of colors, so full of satisfaction and so full of love. The memories he is going to cherish and treasure all through his life.
Why is full of questions, questions of survival, existence, desolation & demise. This is a tale of helplessness like why did it happen, why only to me, why is it so, why couldn’t it be the other way round. It shows the restlessness of the soul who wants the answers to all the Whys. At the start, the synthesized bagpipes & birds’ chirping creates an ambience full of sadness.
This may not be what Faraz wanted to express and this may not even be what you might feel. This is what I felt. One thing that’s special about Faraz is that his music has a lot of universality. And that means anyone can relate to his music. For most of the observative and sensitive people, this might be exactly what they needed to mould their thoughts into expressions and be converted into a piece of art. His music is highly ambient. The very first note he picks, takes you to that special atmosphere where he wants you to accompany him. The compositions are highly infectious and there are very much chances that you might get addicted to them.
Faraz uses some very unorthodox methods of combining the scales. The scales shift a lot through each instrumental. A lot of musicians tried their hands on this thing, but during this there are very few musicians who along with this, succeeded in capturing the listener. But Faraz seems very successful in this.
The album displays his intricate riffing and at places the guitar passages are slow, giving just the right feel to that part. The stress is not merely on lightning-fast arpeggios and techniques, the ambiance is always there. Faraz himself has synthesized the entire album.
The keyboard parts, the synthesized bass and drums are fully representative of his musical pyrotechnics and compositional skills. The pieces of music in this CD will grow more on you with each listening because it cannot be perceived in just one sitting. It’s not to be listened as backdrop music to your routine work. It needs to be listened in a dimly lit room with your ears tuned to the stereo.