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

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Sufi Music (World Music Network/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Sufi Music (World Music Network/Southbound)

When a musical genre loses its figurehead -- as reggae did with the passing of Bob Marley and Sufi music did with the death of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, both of whom had taken their music to a... > Read more

La Chiva Gantiva: Pelao (Crammed Discs)

La Chiva Gantiva: Pelao (Crammed Discs)

With horns and electric guitars, this outfit which was formed in Brussels by expat Colombian percussion players bring as much funk and Fela Afrobeat as they do rocked-up South American sounds... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Daddy Long Legs: Lowdown Ways (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Daddy Long Legs: Lowdown Ways (Yep Roc/Southbound)

Along the line of rubbed raw blues and minimalist swamp rockabilly which runs from Muddy Waters, early John Lee Hooker and Howling Wolf through the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Cramps and RL... > Read more

CHESS BLUES: Taking it from the street

CHESS BLUES: Taking it from the street

Record companies are usually at their best when close to the street, turnlng up talent rather than just distributing it. The Chess label was so close to the street it felt the sweat. Polish... > Read more