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Ali Noor picked up his first instrument in primary school — while living in the United Kingdom, he was chosen to play the triangle in his school’s band. It would be very many years before he became the shaggy-haired front man of Noori — angrily belting out the words to Kuttey, even as he moodily crooned Tum Hans Diye to a generation that sat wide-eyed at their television screens, absorbing the lyrics of his socially-charged songs. The trajectory, however, had been set when Ali Noor was just ten years old, sitting wide-eyed at his own television screen, watching Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” for the first time. Too young to know why, he decided that day that music was his calling in life.

Three decades later, Ali Noor knows exactly what it was that set his heart to music all those years ago: connection. “Music begins where words end. Its experience in the head is the purest form of nonverbal communication, the ultimate emotional connection.” With Noori, music allowed Ali Noor to communicate the emotional responses he experienced to the world around
him, and the questions that arose as a result. The band’s songs urged listeners to look around, to break free of systems and assert themselves. With time, however, Ali Noor has found himself discovering layers to his artform, music becoming a vessel to explore the transcendence of human connection.

Pagal, Ali Noor’s first album since he parted ways from Noori, is exactly such an exploration, of our innate human ability to love and connect. In June 2020, as the world came to a standstill, Ali Noor and his wife, Mandana Zaidi, opened their home to the Pagal team. A motley crew of seven people, all artists in their own right, descended on the house in Bedian and, for 21 days lived and worked together as a family, all job roles and distinctions falling away. What has emerged is an album that stands as testament to what Ali Noor has come to believe profoundly: our collective journey has led us to a point that is asking us to identify as humans, simply and above all other distinctions, that are part of one global family. Pagal is proof of the magic that is created when we are able to do so.

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