Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan |
& Michael Brook,
(Real World, 1995)
Night Song is the second collaboration between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook on Real World Records. (The first is Mustt Mustt.) Kahn is best known as a Qawaal spiritual singer, while Brook is known as a producer, guitar player and maker of ethno-ambient music. Together they take the listener on an enchanting musical journey. This CD magically finds its way into my player when I want to listen to something different -- yet still somehow familiar.
Khan sings with all of his heart and frequently makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Brook's music and production is easy to listen to and marvelously complements Khan's voice. The music never overpowers his voice -- instead it floats around and through the words he sings and chants.
Strong bass beats are contained in some songs. "Lament" has enough bass to move my diaphragm even at non-painful volume levels. The variances in Khan's voice are truly amazing. He at times sings with such longing in his voice as in the song "Lament," while he can also sing at breakneck speed as in parts of "Sweet Pain."
This is not a traditional Qawaal album, so those looking for Khan at his most traditional may be a bit disappointed. A bit of controversy surrounds the CD because some of the songs have a bit of a pop-like feel. The boundary into pop music is never totally crossed, but this could explain why the album feels familiar while still being unlike anything I've heard before. Instead of it being a criticism, I believe the minor pop feel is a positive aspect as it makes the album approachable to more people. Night Song is a perfect introduction to Qawaal singing for an adventurous listener trying to discover different types of music.