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A Variety of Religious Experience
August 16, 2011 3:35 PM   Subscribe


 
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posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:43 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's amazing. I was introduced via the stuff put out by Peter Gabriel's Real World label. Here's a version of Allah Mohammad Char Yaar with translation.
posted by gwint at 3:49 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall having a dub version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song ages ago on some compilation CD that I have long since lost.
posted by Hoopo at 4:08 PM on August 16, 2011


I was fairly obsessed with Nusrat about 20 years ago, much to my then girlfriend's chagrin. Even though I was, and am, an obnoxiously militant atheist, the music carried me away. I can still sing along with Allah Hoo, Allah Mohamad Char Yar and others. I got to see him live in Berkeley some time around then. It was a great show, but I was just a little disappointed because I'd anticipated something transcendent. I wanted to hear the 45 minute versions of the songs, when it seems like there's an entire ecstatic universe in his voice:
Ni Main Jana Jogi De Naal
Aye Sarware Duniya Hoti Teri Nirali Shaan Hai
Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai
posted by williampratt at 4:09 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've seen him live, performing in a vaulted church with his (rather apathetic) backup, er, clappers. It was wonderful, each song a complete story that you could feel happening even though you couldn't understand the actual words. Just a perfect sense of completeness to hear him sing.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:11 PM on August 16, 2011


hoopo> I recall having a dub version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song ages ago on some compilation CD that I have long since lost.

Was it Massive Attack remixing Mustt Mustt?
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 4:21 PM on August 16, 2011


My introduction to Nusrat was through Afreen Afreen.

Thanks for the post!
posted by vidur at 4:23 PM on August 16, 2011


One of my favorites! I was lucky enough to hear Nusrat live, three times. Two of those times in a large hall that had an intimate setting. I started listening to Qawwal many years ago, and was blown away with his traditional stuff. His vocal range, control, and improvisational techniques put him into the category of one of the best singers who ever lived - regardless of culture or musical preference. Later on, it was fun to see him gain notoriety, but I felt some of the essence of his music got lost when it was put to a backbeat.

One of the most amazing thins about an authentic Qawwali performance is the sheer energy and passion that goes into them. I've seen a few other Qawwali groups (Sabri Brothers, and a few others), but none of them compare with the sheer firepower of Nusrat.

I remember two performances, in particular, where Nusrat really got a groove on and the Pakistanis in the audience would run up to the stage by the dozen and shower him with paper currency, to the degree that helpers just offstage would have to periodically come out to bag up the money so that the music could go on. They were showing thanks for their god (Allah) and Nusrat for their lives, and good fortune. What a spectacle! Pakistanis would also dance their way up to the stage as they pulled money from their pockets to contribute. Just amazing.

What I really dig about Qawwal is that so much of the music is religious, or truly poetic in nature. They are the soul Baptists of their culture, with the roots for the beliefs that feed Qawwali music present in Sufism.

I wish there was more live presentation of this music in America. Nothing unites people better than music. Nada Brahma (the world is sound - said by someone who is definitely not a "New Ager", but convinced that there is a sound physical basis for that ancient Hindu belief).
posted by Vibrissae at 4:33 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gurus of Peace
posted by infini at 4:33 PM on August 16, 2011


> I recall having a dub version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song ages ago on some compilation CD that I have long since lost.

Probably the classic Brief History of Ambient vol 1.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2011


http://www.amazon.com/Pakistan-Vocal-Art-Sufis-2/dp/B000003MPG

is probably my favorite NFAK cd. it's companion (volume 1.) is very good also.

After those two, the real world recordings he made are also pretty good, especially the earlier ones.
posted by MikeHoegeman at 4:52 PM on August 16, 2011


I too have been fortunate enough to hear Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan live, in the Jubilee auditorium in Edmonton. There's something great about settling into a comfortable seat for a WHOLE afternoon of Qawwal. As we were leaving, a very elegantly dressed Pakistani woman in front of me said, "These qawwallis - once they get started they don't know when to stop."

The concert was as good as some of his recordings, and there was an apprentice or boy student who sang several pieces who had a voice like I've never heard before or since. Wonderful stuff.
posted by sneebler at 4:59 PM on August 16, 2011


Thanks for this; I'll admit I'm one of those slightly lame people who's only ever heard of his work via Peter Gabriel collaborations.

(But in my defense, that was still not too shabby an exposure...)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:04 PM on August 16, 2011


My introduction to Nusrat was through Jeff Buckley. It's a pretty enthusiastic cover.
posted by lumensimus at 5:06 PM on August 16, 2011


The real world label Sabri brothers recording is pretty good also. Here's a video clip of the sbari brothers if you are interested..
posted by MikeHoegeman at 5:09 PM on August 16, 2011


whoops. scresed up the link .. here it is ..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilEWhLXplWo&feature=related
posted by MikeHoegeman at 5:12 PM on August 16, 2011



A few years back, I had a contract gig with a large corporation to provide help desk training to their overseas (continental indian) staff. They flew a dozen of them in to Madison in October and they were to return in March.

We had been working together when the first snow came. I took some of them out after work and taught them to make snow angels and how to do shitties in my car - although Satish was the only one brave enough to try driving. He was so very apologetic - in that exceedingly Indian way - when he got the car stuck in a snowbank. It weren't but a thing though, and I taught them how to shovel a car out of a snowbank, too.

It was a month or so later, after the lakes had frozen over, I took Satish and a couple of the others on a walk across the lake from James Madison park to the UW union terrace. It was cold as fuck, the show was deep, and we weren't well geared for it, but we survived. Well, sort of. Their minds were blown. Walking! on Water! ZOMG! hehe.

We warmed up with some Newcastle Browns while I roughly translated the german on the walls and showed them how to carve their names in the wooden tables.

When they left, the all gave me small gifts and long hugs. Satish - who is truly one of the finest humans I have ever encountered - gave me a CD of Nusrat songs. He thought that I would appreciate and enjoy them and he was right on the money. He also promised that if I should ever come to India, that he will return my hospitality 10 fold.

I need to take him up on that, one of these days.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:27 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


All you people who saw him live are assholes and I hate you. I first heard Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as a high school Jeff Buckley fan and was absolutely blown away. I remember playing the Buckley version of Yeh jo halka halka saroor hai to a Pakistani girlfriend in college and her being less than impressed. As much as I love Buckley I can (almost) understand that if you're hearing him after the absolute ecstasy of Khan.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:27 PM on August 16, 2011


But where is Haq Ali, Ali?!? This is my favorite song of any genre....part 1, part 2. I like the studio version on the "Greatest Hits" album. Long live Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan!!
posted by pdxjmorris at 6:33 PM on August 16, 2011


Whoops, there is actually 4 parts to the YouTube vids - just follow the links - sorry!
posted by pdxjmorris at 6:36 PM on August 16, 2011


But where is Haq Ali, Ali?!? This is my favorite song of any genre...

I understand in theory that some people might not feel this way, but cannot imagine what its like.
posted by shothotbot at 6:57 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But where is Haq Ali, Ali?!?
posted by pdxjmorris


I remember buying this cd in high school, and being absolutely obsessed. Looking forward to relistening to my favorite track again after all these years. After I finish the ecstatic version of Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai linked above, that is.
posted by SomaSoda at 6:59 PM on August 16, 2011


There is a Sufi story Shah has in a couple of his books where he tries to caution against confusing schmaltz and spirituality. This Sufi tells his guru he must attend a music concert and the guru tells him yes, music is very powerful but you must be sure that your true self wants that as its true real nourishment. Step one: fast for seven days. Step two: have somebody cook for you some delicious food. Step three: would you rather have the music than the food?

If so then you need to go to concerts but otherwise it is probably just a distraction.

(Shah also says that a portion of his material is complete nonsense but he won't say which.)
posted by bukvich at 7:12 PM on August 16, 2011


Hoopo: I recall having a dub version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song ages ago on some compilation CD that I have long since lost.

Given his huge discography, there are a number of dub mixes to choose from (track listings, but if you're lucky there are links to YouTube).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bought Night Song, a collaboration between him and Michael Brook, and Star Rise (remixes by contemporary Asian musicians in the UK) back when I was living over there. Both are great, but I'd say Night Song is the essential one of the two.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:06 PM on August 16, 2011


There is a Sufi story Shah has in a couple of his books where he tries to caution against confusing schmaltz and spirituality. This Sufi tells his guru he must attend a music concert and the guru tells him yes, music is very powerful but you must be sure that your true self wants that as its true real nourishment. Step one: fast for seven days. Step two: have somebody cook for you some delicious food. Step three: would you rather have the music than the food? If so then you need to go to concerts but otherwise it is probably just a distraction.

This sounds like a great way to spend a week discovering that music and food are life-changing, but sufism is just a distraction...
posted by vorfeed at 8:18 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the various versions of Allahu. So joyous! So mesmerizing! Used an "unplugged" version (still 15 minutes long at least!) as the invocation for my wedding.
posted by Jezebella at 8:37 PM on August 16, 2011



My favorite dub/remix is "prayer to Allah off of Ecstacy.

His voice is just amazing. He destroys the lesser, yet quite talented, men in his entourage. He died far too young.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:05 PM on August 16, 2011


The concert was as good as some of his recordings, and there was an apprentice or boy student who sang several pieces who had a voice like I've never heard before or since. Wonderful stuff.

Sneebler: I suspect that 'boy' was Nusrat's nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who is an enormously popular qawwal in Pakistan today, with a fan following throughout the South Asian diaspora.
posted by Azaadistani at 3:25 AM on August 17, 2011


Back in the early 90s a friend of mine found a tape player in a cemetery with a completely unlabeled tape in it. It was some incarnation of this album but in those pre-web days it took quite a while to figure out even who the artist was. I still love those songs.
posted by gubo at 8:05 PM on August 17, 2011


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