Unveiling a Hidden Gem: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Unheard Album ‘Chain of Light’ Discovered - Vibes Of India

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Unveiling a Hidden Gem: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Unheard Album ‘Chain of Light’ Discovered

| Updated: June 25, 2024 19:33

In an extraordinary revelation that has reignited the spirit of a legend, Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records is set to release ‘Chain of Light’, a long-lost album by the illustrious Pakistani qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Discovered in the label’s archives in 2021, this album, recorded in April 1990, captures the divine essence of Khan and his eight-piece ensemble during a transformative session at Real World Studios.

Kanwal Singh said in The Wire that this discovery not only enriches his distinguished catalog but also breathes new life into the transcendent legacy of a singer who, even decades after his untimely passing in 1997, continues to bridge cultural and musical divides. For those who find solace and profound connection in his qawwalis (a style of Sufi devotional music), this release is more than just music; it is a soulful reunion with a voice that has always transcended language, borders, and religion. ‘Chain of Light’ promises to evoke the same extraordinary emotions and spiritual fervor that have made Nusrat Saheb an eternal beacon of human connection and shared experience. This very session also birthed Khan’s renowned crossover hit ‘Mustt Mustt’.

A glimpse into history

Khan’s profound association with Real World Records began after his spellbinding performance at the 1985 WOMAD festival, catching the discerning eye of Gabriel. Their collaboration bore rich fruits, with Khan contributing to Gabriel’s 1989 album Passion, the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). This collaboration significantly amplified Khan’s international profile, opening doors to numerous Hollywood soundtracks and global recognition.

Rediscovering ‘Chain of Light’

Buried deep in a warehouse storage space at Real World Studios and unearthed whilst the label was relocating its archive in 2021, the April 1990 tape recording that comprises ‘Chain of Light’ finds Khan at a crossroads, on the cusp of global greatness. The album features four qawwalis, including a never-before-heard track. These recordings are lauded for their harmonic depth and the unparalleled clarity of Khan’s vocals, illustrating his peak artistic form. Producer Michael Brook highlights the adventurous harmonic qualities of the album, a testament to the dynamic synergy of Khan’s ensemble.

The revered release

Scheduled for release on September 20, 2024, ‘Chain of Light’ is supported in part by the British Council. Gabriel, reflecting on Khan’s unparalleled talent, expressed, “I’ve had the privilege to work with many musicians from around the world, but perhaps the greatest singer of them all was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His voice could evoke extraordinary emotions, and we were proud to help bring his music to a broader global audience. This album showcases Khan at his peak. It’s a remarkable record.”

The Eternal Influence

Despite his untimely passing in 1997 at the age of 48, Khan’s influence reverberates across the globe. His legacy thrives with over six million monthly listeners on Spotify and more than one billion views on YouTube. Further solidifying his enduring impact, a documentary titled Ustad, produced by Pakistan’s Saiyna Bashir Studios, is set for release in late 2025.

Transcending Boundaries

The release of ‘Chain of Light’ not only enriches Khan’s illustrious discography but also offers a renewed glimpse into the extraordinary talent of a singer who transcended cultural and musical boundaries. This rediscovered album stands as a testament to Khan’s lasting legacy and his unparalleled contribution to world music.

My Personal Ode to Nusrat Saheb

Khan holds a special place in my heart, not just as a musician but as a transcendental force whose qawwalis bridge language, borders, and religion. His rendition of ‘Mitar Pyare Nu’ is a morning ritual for me, a soulful invocation that sets the tone for my day. The depth of his voice, the spiritual fervor of his performance, and the universal messages in his music resonate deeply with me, reminding me of the boundless nature of human emotion and connection. In Nusrat Saheb’s voice, I find a profound sense of peace and a reminder of the shared human experience that transcends all barriers

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