PopMatters home | short takes home | archivesPopMatters Music Short Takes
Various Artists, Rough Guide to the Music of Pakistan (World Music Network)
If just hearing the words "music" and "Pakistan" summons up the soulful sound of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan powering out qawwali, the compilers appreciate that. They have included the master himself in a 10-minute excerpt from a performance of "Aj Rang Hai Hai Maa", a rang so ancient it has been sung in exactly the same way for 700 years. The only modern accent is that Khan sings his above a harmonium. But women sing Sufi songs as well, and Abida Parween is immensely popular in both India and Pakistan. After listening to her eight-minute work out in front of an appreciative audience, it's easy to understand why. Other women singers get proper coverage here, too, among them Farida Khanum, the reigning "Queen of Ghazal". From just 12 tracks, the listener gets a good solid introduction to the traditional sounds and popular melodies of Pakistan. Included are four examples of Pakistani pop that represent this relatively recent phenomenon (and one that clearly has a ways yet to go). "Jhullay Lal" is a Sufi hymn of praise, but it is sung here to a pop/dance beat. This collection of Pakistan's music is among a handful of exceptionally noteworthy releases offered just last year by Rough Guide.