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Night Song review
from Utne Reader
by j. poet, May-June 1996
[archived here without permission]

Night SongNusrat Fateh Ali Khan sings Qwalli, a form of Islamic religious / popular music that mixes the poetry of Sufi saints and mystics with classical Indian ragas and taals into a blend that's said to induce a trancelike state that can bring listeners closer to God. A great Qwalli singer is known by the power of his improvisations, and Nusrat is an acknowledged master of extemporaneous composition, a Pakistani scat singer currently without peer. Nusrat revolutionized Qwalli in the 80's by increasing the tempo of his music to appeal to younger listeners, and in the past few years he's been experimenting with Western music in an effort to "induce in all people an intense devotion that will culminate in divine ecstacy.

Night Song, a collaboration with Canadian avant garde / ambient composer Michael Brooks [sic], is a splendid introduction to Nusrat's vocal art. "My Heart, My Life," for instance, includes some of the catchiest vocal refains Nusrat has ever composed, while "My Comfort Remains" features a subtle hip-hop backbeat, the atmospheric notes of Brooks' [sic] "infinite guitar," and a moaning, bluesy, vocal from Nusrat that slides into an extended scat improvisation.

Throughout the disc, Nusrat's sutained notes swell out with the power of a church organ. Already the most famous Qwalli performer in Pakistan, Nusrat is fast being recognized by Western listeners as one of the world' great voices. Even in this slightly watered down context, his vocal technique will lift you to the clouds.