Over the years, the singing of the world famous qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has become a canvas on which a wide variety of admiring musicians and producers have painted their own musical images -- guitarist Michael Brook recorded an album with him, and Khan's work has been remixed by everyone from Black Star Liner to Asian Dub Foundation. The latest celebrant in the Church of Nusrat is the brilliant electro-dub artist Gaudi, whose aptly titled Dub Qawwali takes rare and previously undiscovered vocal recordings of Khan from the '60s and '70s and embeds them in completely new instrumental settings, all of them based on varying styles of reggae, and all of them mixed in a rich, warm dubwise style. The album's high point is its lead track, the softly beautiful "Bethe Bethe Kese Kese." Here Khan is in relatively restrained mode, tenderly crooning a simple melody and avoiding the virtuosic flights of melisma that characterize his more up-tempo work. Gaudi's accompaniment is similarly gentle and caressing. On "Tera Jana Kere Rang Lawe" the melody is drier and the bassline busier; "Dil Da Rog Mka Ja Mahi" benefits from a wet, spacy sound similar to what you might have heard if Lee "Scratch" Perry had moved his Black Ark studio to Mumbai; "Kahin Mot Se Bhi Na Jao" is built on a rockers beat and a sturdily chugging organ part. But on every track, the star of the show is Khan's gorgeous, powerful, and plaintive voice -- this album is ultimately a labor of love and a tribute to the memory of one of the finest singers who ever lived.
Rick Anderson, Rovi