26 July 2007

10 years later: Nusrat's Dub Qawwali

Gaudi + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Dub Qawwali
(Six Degrees)
buy CD : hear samples

I've weighed in before on remixes of great vocalists (see Oct. 2005 review of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Chillout Sessions). So you won't be surprised that I approached this album with skepticism. And having listened, I'm still skeptical. Gaudi is a talented artist and his dubtronica often blends surprisingly well with the vocals of the greatest Pakistani Qawwal. But the emotional edge of Nusrat's singular voice is dulled by the constant beat required by the dub idiom. The sound is often too full, not leaving the space for soaring vocals that Nusrat has in other, more traditional recordings.

That said, Nusrat was no stranger to cross-cultural collaborations -- having worked with the likes of Michael Brook, Eddie Vedder, and Peter Gabriel -- and I suspect the master would have liked what Gaudi has done here. The songs may not have the intensity of the original (though moments shine through, particularly on "Jab Teri Chun Main Raha Karte They"), but Gaudi has made this ecstatic Sufi music available to a whole new range of listeners, some of whom will certainly follow their curiosity to other Nusrat recordings.

The vocal tracks Gaudi used came from a collection of recently discovered and rare studio recordings made in Pakistan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Six Degrees Records is releasing the album as a celebration of Nusrat's life 10 years after his passing.

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