05 March 2009

Rahat's Indian Debut

I'm baaaaack!

Oh, the indescribable wonders and mysteries of India! On those, more later. For now, I want to start sharing with you some of the music I picked up from the surprisingly elusive music-wallahs of Delhi.

As a global music connoisseur, you no doubt know that Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is the nephew of the legendary Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and trained under him. Rahat has not achieved his uncle's global recognition, and this seems particularly true in India. I was surprised to see in the liner notes to Charkha that this album, released in 2007, is "his first full solo album to be released in India." Could it be India-Pakistan politics at work? Or is the qawwali fusion work of Rahat not to the taste of Indians?
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan - Charkha the album on SoundRoots.org
Me, I like it. True, Rahat's singing here is far less emotional than the swirling ecstacy of Nusrat's live qawwali recordings. But with the addition of guitars, drumkit, and other non-traditional elements, Charkha is a great, accessible start for people who may be unfamiliar with qawwali-style vocals and not quite ready for all-out Nusrat.

[mp3] Rahat Fateh Ali Khan: Kanday Utay
from the album Charkha

A few of the arrangements on Charkha get cheesy, and if I ever run across the person responsible for omitting the names of the musicians who accompany Rahat, I'm going to kick him in the shins. Or maybe karma has already done that for me...

The charkha, by the way, is a simple form of spinning wheel, popularized by Ghandi and even featured on a provisional Indian flag.

For a few images of India, click here.

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