Terakaft interviewed on New York Music Daily
“Malian Desert Blues Legends Look Forward to Their US Debut at Drom Saturday Night
Popular, mystically psychedelic, politically-fueled Malian desert blues legends Terakaft make history with their US debut this coming Saturday night, March 9, an intimate show at Drom at 85 Ave. A in the East Village. They hit the stage a little after eight…and there’s still time to win free admission to see the concert, no purchase necssary, just hit the “reply” button at the bottom of this page with your name and email address, first come first served, we’re giving away five pairs of tix.
With their signature mix of thougthful insight and sheer inscrutability, the band graciously took some time out of their worldwide tour to chat a little:
New York Music Daily: The first question anybody asks if they know somebody in Mali is, “Are you ok?” As all of us know there has been a terrible conflict going on in Mali – have you found yourselves in danger?
Diara (founding member and guitarist) : I am ok because I live in a safe place. I am not in danger, but our families from northern Mali had to fly out because of the danger there…
NYMD: Lyrics are very important in your music. How do you feel about playing for an audience that doesn’t understand them? To what degree if at all can you communicate your message to them?
Pino (percussion): We’re starting to think about that. At the beginning, during our first western tours, we didn’t really consider, do people understand our words ? Now we meet more and more people. We try to help them sometimes, giving them some keys to understanding what the next song is about…
NYMD: Your music is sometimes categorized here in the west as “desert blues.” How do you feel about that?
Sanou: We call it “assouf”. But desert blues or desert rock sounds good…
(via Terakaft | Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center | International | Chicago Reader)
“Mesmerizing north African guitar band Terakaft named their fourth and best record, Kel Tamasheq [on iTunes]…Adams has brought a new clarity to the cycling guitar licks and stabs, clopping percussion, and syncopated hand claps, and he joins some folks from Maghreb-influenced French band Lo’Jo to contribute extra guitar and background vocals. But that’s not to say the four members of Terakaft need help—they’re a seasoned unit, driving their arid grooves and nasal incantations with an implacable sense of purpose.”
When: Tue., March 12, 6:30 p.m.
- 78 E. Washington St. Loop
(via Terakaft to perform at London’s Cargo, April 10 | Songlines World Music News)
Albeit said with an air of trepidation, the grip of militant Islamists in Northern Malian cities seems to be finally easing after months of uncertainty and oppression. With music and arts outlawed under the banner of extreme Sharia law, many artists, especially those of Touareg descent have been affected.
Meaning ‘caravan’ in Tamasheq, Terakaft hail from Kidal, Mali, and comprise of two original members of Touareg desert rockers, Tinariwen, including founder Diara.
Released before the conflict began in Mali, Terakaft’s fourth album Kel Tamasheq (reviewed in issue #87) was produced by Justin Adams and featured members of Lo’Jo. The band will be bringing their own twist on the ever-popular electric desert rock sound to London’s Cargo on April 10.
(via Music Review: Terakaft - Kel Tamasheq - Page 2 - Blogcritics Music)
“…One thing you will notice about the band’s songs is how the lyrics are usually only one or two statements in length. These are sung to the accompaniment of music that is almost trance like in its nature. A hypnotic drum beat underscores everything and acoustic guitar and bass emphasize the rhythm over which they are sung/chanted. Electric guitar adds both another layer to the beat, as well as rising out of it for short bursts of lead work. These are like flashes of lightening cutting across a desert sky creating stark silhouettes making specific objects stand out from the rest of the landscape. While the guitar offers one kind of punctuation to the songs, Naida and Yamina Nid El Mourid’s background vocalizations bring the sound of the desert to life.
…It’s a role that has recently taken on new importance as it’s become vital to ensure Kel Tamasheq are not lumped in with those who are using their people’s name in an attempt to give credibility to the recent armed rebellion in Northern Mali. By telling the world this is what we believe in and what we have fought for in the past, Terakaft makes it very clear this was not a Kel Tamasheq rebellion. Let’s just hope the world listens.”
Terakaft’s Kel Tamasheq is #14 on the World Music Charts Europe’s Top 20 for October!
Featuring the usual cyclical guitar swirls, call and response vocal chants
and urgent handclap rhythms, Kel Tamasheq (“The People Who Speak Tamashek” – ie, the Touareg) is as infectiously engaging as you’d expect from an offshoot of the Tinariwen taproot.
But while the music retains familiar desert-blues stylings, the lyrics reflect the traumatic disruption in the rapidly-changing world of the Touareg, with criticism of the Ansar Dine fundamentalist invaders in “Imad Halan”, and several reflections on the turmoil of war, most poetically in “Taddaza”.
Founded in the wake of Tinariwen’s success, Terakaft have inevitably operated under the shadow of their elder Saharan cousins. Kel Tamasheq, their fourth album, brings a more distinctive identity to their desert blues. The serpentine guitar riffs, insistent handclaps, massed chants and rolling grooves remain intact, but their sound is less cluttered (and often less forlorn) than Tinariwen’s. Producer Justin Adams brings subtle sonic expertise to tracks such as the shimmering Awa Adounia and friends from French group Lo’Jo add female voices and violin elsewhere. Completed before the conflict in north Mali, numbers such as Tirera and Imad Halan starkly evoke the terror of war.