Artist: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Title: “Mustt Mustt”
Toward the end of his life, Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan bridged into the Western world thanks to collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Eddie Vedder.
That led to strange experimentations such as “Mustt Mustt,” which tried to meld Qawwali – a 700-year-old form of devotional music for Sufism, a mystical dimension within Islam – with Western pop influences.
Sometimes, as with “The Last Temptation of Christ,” it worked beautifully.
“Mustt Mustt,” however, despite being wonderfully produced, feels like the sort of novelty that Santana settled for with “Supernatural,” softening the qualities that made their own material great to try something new.
The King of the Kings of Qawwali uses his voice, which covers six octaves in Urdu, the Pakistani national language. One can guess his lyrics are faith-based given the rest of his catalog, but it’s only a guess.
Khan’s output here also is notable for its brevity. Much of the rest of his songs run into the 10- and 20-minute range, making four-minute pop songs seem like an exercise in being succinct.
The result is one that showcases Khan’s voice, but doesn’t give a great glimpse into his legacy.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.