Jazz outfit Qwalia's 'Sound & Reason' celebrates spontaneity

Recently formed London jazz outfit Qwalia, led by dummer Yusuf Ahmed, have released Sound & Reason, a celebration of spontaneity and impulse.

The band's name derives simply from the word Qualia - a philosophical concept that considers the subjectiveness of everything we experience, to put it vaguely.

For example, qualia could prompt one to consider what it feels like to read this exact Offie Mag blog post at the exact time you are reading it. Or how your off-brand corn flakes tasted this morning or, more fittingly, how it feels to listen to this expansive jazz record.

Sound & Reason slows down time. Whilst the opener Fool Me Once has the pace and chanting hook to make you move quickly, by the time you reach the end of the track with it's spacious chords leaving one-by-one, the best part of 10-minutes has passed and, you may feel entirely different to how you did when Roshannah Bagley's vocals were in full-swing.

Speaking of vocals, a unique 'feature' from the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan arrives on stand-out track Vaghea. Created from a sample of a live concert, the use of the vocals was approved by the estate of the legendary qawwali singer who passed away in 1997.


Qwalia's band members are Pakistani, Italian, Venezuelan, Jewish and English, helping the music explore identity both literally and musically without making the conscious effort to do so.

As per the group's Bandcamp page, Yusuf Ahmed says: “We set up altogether in one room, dimmed the lights, pressed record and just played. We came away with over 13 hours of music, which was consolidated into three albums worth of material."

"The final record is mainly a result of pulling faders up or down to create space and structure out of what was already there from the live recording!”

Released on vinyl and via streaming platforms, you'll find Qwalia's Sound & Reason added to our Music of the Month playlist.

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