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Night Song review
L. Graham Bridges, 9 March 1996
from Consumable Online
[reprinted here without permission]

Night Song"You, my sweetheart, are my heart, my life." This is an English translation of how the new Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook collaboration, Night Song, begins. Night Song is the sequel to their classic previous collaboration, Mustt Mustt (released in 1990, it was voted one of this decade's top 100 albums by Alternative Press). However, while Mustt Mustt was the product of the artists' separated efforts, Night Song was written collaboratively.

The serene, moving Qawwali vocals of classically-trained Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, combined with the music of Canadian ambient composer Michael Brook produces an aural experience perhaps only paralleled by the eyewitnessing of a faith healer at work, a miracle birth, or a natural disaster in this present-day world.

The mood of Night Song swings wildly from track to track. "Longing" is basically a slow ballad beginning with a slide guitar's sweet melody and ending with strangled pleas (In English, "my dear longing for you is killing me."). "Lament" is plodding, desolate and dark, with Nusrat droning "without you there is gloominess--come back home sweetheart" as mellow background guitar sounds soar and slowly drift to the depths of one's soul. "Intoxicated" is a more upbeat tune featuring unexpected outbursts of Nusrat's rapid-fire, metaphorical vocals about obsession.

One could draw certain parallels between this album and many of Brian Eno's works and productions (of course, Brook has done extensive work with Eno in the past), and the music of Brook's 4AD-mates Lisa Gerrard and Dead Can Dance, who often times also fuse traditional foreign (or pseudo-foreign) vocals and rhythm with modern ambient music and, on occasion, technological sound. This makes traditional music somewhat more accessible to the listener while adding diversity to the elements of ambient - which is, to begin with, an eccentric form of music with a devoted following.

Nusrat has recorded over 60 albums so far, not to mention collaborations. He has worked with artists such as Real World Records founder Peter Gabriel (Passion: the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ) to Eddie Vedder (Dead Man Walking Soundtrack). Brook has recorded several albums and has collaborated with various ambient and other musicians. Night Song shows Brook at his best -- the richness of his imagination really shows.

Night Song makes a great companion to either sudden revelation or a simple evening in the forest, under the stars. Despite the down-to-earth lyrics about relationships and spiritual cleanliness, the two artists make an obvious, pronounced effort to lead one down a path of pure spiritual ecstasy. It is certainly one of the best collaborative albums of the year.

Real World plans to release an album of dance remixes of Nusrat's work this summer.