Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Emperor (Nascente/Triton)

 |   |  <1 min read

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Man kun to maula
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The Emperor (Nascente/Triton)

For many people the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan (who died in 1997) was and remains the greatest ever qawwali singer. He certainly reached Western audiences in a way that few had ever done and among his fans and advocates were Peter Gabriel, Jeff Buckley, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Joan Osborne.

He extended the qawwali style (a form of Sufi devotional singing), incorporated electronic instruments and he brought a powerful vibrato to songs which had previously been delivered rather more straight-ahead. At the heart of the music was his profound faith and his ability to lose himself in the music as he employed his exceptional, six octave range.

There is nothing quite like hearing Khan improvising around a melody as the musicians provide clapping percussion, the harmonium is wheezing in the background and the tabla drums are providing a relentlessly forward momentum.

And there are plenty of moments like that in this double-disc set which scoops up five traditional pieces (average time of each piece a sublime 12 minutes) and another disc of remixes from the likes of Gaudi, Michael Turner and Bally Sagoo. Khan didn't mind remixes at all (his Mustt Mustt album on Real World for example included a Massive Attack remix of the title track) and his style lends itself to x-ray and re-framing.

But always it is that astonishing voice which is at the centre, inspiring and seducing, emotional and uplifting. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

The death in March 2006 of the great Mali musician Ali Farka Toure -- who reached a global audience in the mid 90s with the Talking Timbuktu album recorded with Ry Cooder -- lead to many tributes... > Read more

Nistha Raj: Exit 1 (nistharaj.com)

Nistha Raj: Exit 1 (nistharaj.com)

Those fresh from Womad will attest that some of the most interesting music is made at the interface of cultures, and this album is further evidence. Texas-raised Nistha Raj (now living in... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Joanna's pre- and post-hangover potato and chorizo melange

Joanna's pre- and post-hangover potato and chorizo melange

Joanna says "this goes really well with lots of red wine. The leftovers go really well with the hangover in the morning" so we can't say we aren't warned. And we've just learned a little... > Read more

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

The story is such an improbable cliché it can only be true: one night in the late 70s while driving between Stuttgart and Zurich, the famous jazz producer Manfred Eicher heard music on the... > Read more