At the time of his 1997 passing, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was widely recognized as a transcendent and eternal-sounding vocalist, and as the world's premier Qawwal, a singer of traditional Qawwali musicspiritual music from Pakistan with ancient roots in Sufism. Khan's voice even appeared in progressive "western music such as Peter Gabriel's work on 1988's The Last Temptation of Christ
Many miles and cultures removed from Khan, London-based composer/producer Gaudi has released eleven solo albums and soundtracks, plus 80 remix albums, in his personalized, flowing techno-reggae style called "gaudi-dub. But in 2005, Gaudi began conceiving a new productioncomposing original music for new Khan recordings that had just been discovered in Pakistanand released Dub Qawwali to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Khan's death.
"Stylistically, I'm trying to fuse different cultures, genres and sounds while keeping the unifying element of love, Gaudi explains.
Little distinguishes individual tracks from each other on an album which unfurls as one continuous, lushly-piled musical tapestry. Quite often, as in the opening "Bethe Bethe Kese Kese, tabla percolates within the thick and stately foundational rhythm, while violin follows to doubles Khan's voice. When the instrumentation drifts off elsewhere, Khan's ethereal vocal always grounds and returns it to the groove. Khan's introduction to "Jab Teri Dhun Main Raha Karte They seems to fly out of its surrounding echo like a soul departing the body, as does his first verse to "Ghamgar Bare Ne, so yearning and plaintive.
This unique cross-cultural combination of modern technology and ancient spirituality can sometimes feel incongruous, as when Gaudi incorporates features of Kraftwerk's "The Model into the chanted prayer "Dil Da Rog Muka Ja Mahi.
Even if Dub Qawwali is the result of a collaboration between two artists who never met, Gaudi can still enthuse, "After 26 years of music activity, I have to say that this is the most important production I have ever done.
Personnel: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: vocals, harmonium; Gaudi: production, programming; Style Scott: drums.