…Q: Why did you choose to come to SXSW this year, and what does it mean for your band?
Diara: This is our first time at the festival, and actually our first time in the U.S. We know that music is important here, and that’s why we wanted to come. We are very excited to be a part of it. I actually dreamt of coming to Texas, many years ago, as a very young boy…
Q: What is the most memorable place in the world you have performed so far?
Sanou:Skopje, Macedonia. The city, the scenery, and the mountains were really very beautiful. But we would like to see more of the natural beauty of [the United States] if possible...
“It amazes me that music from the deserts of Mali can connect so easily to urban 20-year-old Americans. But the music of Terakaft is not so different from many western bands making droney, psychedelic sounds. The group’s guitar-based music is made from the same stuff, that hypnotic tension you can hear in American bands such as Television from the late 1970s, or Jimi Hendrix from the late 1960s or a band I saw at SXSW this year, Elephant Stone. Guitarist Diara was a founding member of Tinariwen, a band that has successfully rocked thousands of people in America, at festivals like Bonnaroo and the venues like D.C.’s 9:30 Club. The formula here is the same: powerfully lyrical, modal guitars and a well honed sound. Though it’s a sound familiar to me, I’d venture to say that few of those attending Austin Psych Fest, a dayparty/festival within a festival, had ever heard this music before, but all were pretty well tranced out by the end.”
heard a lot of great music in Austin last week, but the most fun I had until I saw Prince was at the globalFEST showcase at the Speakeasy, where I caught Malian trance-blues band Terakraft and Brooklyn bhangra brass band Red Baraat.
A couple of members of Terakraft, who are based in Algeria and whose name means “caravan” in the Tamasheq language, didn’t make it due to visa issues. No matter: They got their bus driver, Manny Flores, to wear a beret backwards to approximate the traditional keffiyeh nomad garb, and two masterful guitarists laid down a hypnotic Saharan groove, along the Ali Farka Touré-John Lee Hooker-Chuck Berry continuum. Mesmerizing.
…The double bill made me wonder why I spend so much time watching wan indie-rock bands.
“…Joined by American bassist Manny Flores, the two Malians both played electric guitar, generating push-and-pull rhythms with short bursts of melody burbling on top. Most of the songs, drawn from their latest album Terakaft kel Tamasheq (World Village), were minor-chord vamps that created a trance-like intertwining of the guitar parts…the two leaders sang their droning, mesmerizing vocals in the Tamasheq language, praising God, family and the desert in a sound as strange and seductive as the Sahara itself. There was nothing else remotely like it in all of South by Southwest…”
Unrest in northern Mali has left Liya Ag Ablil living in exile for years, but as he takes his Saharan desert blues to the wider world, he looks forward to peace back home.
Ablil fronts Terakaft, an offshoot of the internationally known Tuareg band Tinariwen that has been filling smaller, more intimate venues at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival this week with its trance-like sounds.
“The lyrics that we sing are those of our culture,” Ablil, also known in desert blues circles as Diara, told AFP after a lunchtime show Thursday under the early spring Texas sun behind a French bistro on the east side of Austin.
World Village has forged itself a reputation for excellence on the international musical scene in just a few short years. Seeking out talents from all around the world, carefully designed covers and booklets: these are the key values of the label, which is run by four producers working between France, the USA, Spain and the UK, who pursue an ambitious signing policy.
Jazz Village, the newest label in the Harmonia Mundi family, allows audiences to experience the best of current jazz music, from Europe to the Americas, from traditional to modern, through urban soul and new sound crossbreeds. On the menu: a dozen yearly releases featuring musical veterans, young idols and bright emerging talents.