Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan / Michael Brook

Night Song

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AllMusic Review by

Canadian guitarist Michael Brook worked with Nusrat to create the 1990 crossover hit Mustt Mustt, and the release was hailed internationally and credited with leading Pakistani youth to discover Sufi religious music, qawwali. This follow-up project helped establish something of a tradition for Real World crossover projects. The genre features dreamy, atmospheric keyboards and guitars, simple, mid-tempo rhythms, and a kind of low-key understatement that, depending on your point of view, sounds either profoundly mystical or else tedious and bland. With West African kora and electronic backing and Nusrat singing in a relaxed mid-range voice, the opener "My Heart, My Life" sounds almost like a Salif Keita ballad as it works up to its energized closing chant. "My Comfort Remains" and "Crest" are essentially pop numbers with catchy melodies, the former bouncy but static, the latter building towards a revelatory crescendo. Not until the fifth of eight tracks, "Longing," do we hear Nusrat's signature scat singing and his singular wail, unmistakable even when lavished with effects. "Sweet Pain" might be the strongest track, beginning deep in dream space with a wandering bassline and a simple backbeat, and then heating up to powerful close with Nusrat delivering spitfire scat. Wherever you stand on Real World's arty aesthetics, you have to admire the qawwali star's sense of adventure here. You also have to recognize that no crossover project, including Nusrat's far more fun collaboration with London DJ Bally Sagoo, approaches the power of his standard fare qawwali.

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