Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

The Day, The Night, The Dawn, The Dusk

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With the success of the qawwali star's recordings for Real World after 1989, it was inevitable that other labels would begin delving into his vast back catalog in Pakistan. Based on the clean sound here, this must have been recorded in the 1980s. While the notes don't provide that kind of information, they do give extensive translations of the lyrics to these three romantic pieces, one of them nearly half an hour long. "Yeh Jo Halka Halka," a study in obsession, uses the language of intoxication to describe love: "The whole universe is in a state of drunkenness: the day, the night, the dusk, the dawn. Everything is perpetually intoxicated/all the result of your shy eyes." The combination of Islam and impossible love has produced whole worlds of timeless music, but little of it can match the unbridled passion of Nusrat and his ten-man "party," most of who sing in support of Nusrat's husky tenor. The lengthy translations here are a real plus as the lavish character of the words provide a fascinating counterpoint to this intensely emotive music. "Ni Main Jana Jogi De," a shorter piece whose 17th century lyrics describe love in religious terms, starts right out in a lively, tripping feel and ramps up the energy from there. A very different version of this song also appears on Devotional Songs (Real World, 1992). The lengthy final piece concentrates on the joy and release of a lover who has returned, and also the agony of her impending departure. The build from long, slow notes through passages of improvisation to the rapid circling of melodies that conclude these long qawwali pieces is one of the most consistently satisfying listening experiences in world music.

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