Land of the Sufis: Soul Music from the Indus Valley
Shanachie (

This CD smacks of record company opportunism. I imagine an executive saying, "Oh my god, Nusrat is dead! We need someone from Pakistan to replace him as the driver of the hugely successful qawwali crossover bandwagon!" So a recording team is dispatched to Lahore to scout out an undiscovered mega-talent. An open invitation is sent out to the community and musicians line up to take their crack at international stardom. I may be excessively cynical about the motivation, but the m.o. for this recording was largely done in this way. The positive aspect is that this recording reveals the multiplicity of Sufi music in Pakistan beyond the by-now-familiar genre of qawwali to Western ears. There is some wonderful instrumental work here, although the recordings are suffused with too much reverb, giving them a studio sheen that detracts from sense of raw discovery that is the raison d'etre of such a project. The liner notes are also heavy on colorful personality sketches and light on musicological low-down. But despite the problems, the album serves as a tantalizing appetizer to those seeking a more balanced musical view of Sufism in Pakistan than provided by all the qawwali recordings that have come out in recent years. - John Cho