Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan The King of Sufi Qawwali Review

Released 2006.  

BBC Review

Music for ears and minds seeking a bridge to heaven.

Chris Moss 2006

You may have caught Pakistan's musical maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan back in 1990 when 'Mustt Mustt' was given the trip-hop treatment by Massive Attack. This came at the end of three decades working as ambassador of the awesome spirit of Qawwali music and was final proof that the once spurned genre had founds its groove on the globe.

In 1997 Nusrat died, but his music has continued to grow in popularity and convert listeners, if not to sufism, then to its heartfelt sound. The seven tracks on this stunning double album are long, winding, exploratory and give the performers - and us - time to let the beat work its magic and for the ideas to grow. Even without a grasp of Farsi, Punjabi or Urdu (all three are employed here as well as a song in the Seraiki dialect), you can feel the way Qawaali builds its devotional tributes - to love, to Allah, to nature - through ritualised refrains and by layering the percussion and voice onto the unceasing undercurrent of the tabla.

Solos shoot off into mystical celebration and voices come together in ecstatic choruses, but through it all the instruments keep it rooted in the here and now. "My life never was, or will be, content with the mundane," chants a poem about unrequited love. This is music for ears and minds seeking a bridge to heaven.

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