Pakistani devotees of qawwali music refer to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as "the voice of heaven." This double-CD release—featuring the last tracks he recorded before his death in 1997—is a st

Pakistani devotees of qawwali music refer to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as "the voice of heaven." This double-CD release—featuring the last tracks he recorded before his death in 1997—is a stirring testimony to the truth of his nickname. To the sparse accompaniment of tabla and harmonium, Khan leads a brilliant group of vocalists as they sing poetry that praises Allah and the prophets of Islam. Khan's nephew and chosen successor, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, figures prominently on disc two and proves to be a dynamic foil for his elder. The album consists of eight songs, with each track averaging 16 minutes. Qawwali songs spring from a controlled improvisation and tend to stretch out when the singers find their groove, and on this album, the master definitely achieves a highly refined state of musicality between trance and rapturous vocalization. His voice is the golden thread in this exotic tapestry of sound.The performance is as pure a qawwali experience as any listener is likely to encounter.—PVV