Terakaft (meaning “caravan” in Tamasheq) is a genuine desert rock band, sculpted by the pure searing air and the endless rolling sands of the Sahara. The stark, harsh conditions of the Sahara have permeated their wild riffs, and as a result, Terakaft is the perfect embodiment of all that is wild and free in desert blues today. They have taken the electric guitar and made it their own.
Terakaft was formed in 2001 by Sanou Ag Ahmed, then based in Kidal, Mali, with Kedou Ag Ossad. Kedou was a member of the original line-up of Tinariwen, as is Liya Ag Ablil (aka Diara), Sanou’s uncle, who joined the band in 2006. Diara was known for his fierce and passionate style of rock’n’roll guitar playing. He played with Tinariwen for almost 20 years, but stepped back just before the group started touring internationally.
Terakaft recorded their first studio album Bismilla, The Bko Sessions in four days at the legendary Bogolan Studios in Bamako, Mali. Following its release in 2007, they went on their first European tour with a line-up of: Sanou, Kedou, Diara and Rhissa Ag Oghram on the bass.
Terakaft’s second album and World Village debut, Akh Issudar, was produced by Jean-Paul Romann (Tinariwen, Lo’Jo) and released in 2008. Rhissa, who had left the band prior to the recording, was replaced that year by Jean-Louis Livenais (of Akeikoi). It was a Best Album of 2008 on NPR, The Village Voice, Emusic and Pitchfork, among others. The album was also a station favorite at Los Angeles station KCRW, landing on the Top Tunes list.
Kedou left Terakaft in 2008 as he preferred to remain in the desert, and Diara stepped in as leader of the band. The band was then joined by Abdallah Ag Ahmed, Sanou’s younger brother, making Terakaft a true family band. Abdallah became the bass player of the band. The group has changed drummers several times, most recently performing with Pino Desperado.
Terakaft’s original roster of songs was mainly written by Diara and his brother, Inteyeden Ag Ablil, a Tuareg legend and another founder of Tinariwen. Inteyeden passed away in 1994, but his influence is still felt and heard today in the music of both Tinariwen and Terakaft. The newer and more modern- sounding Terakaft tracks have been written by Diara, Sanou and Abdallah, and have a more “pop” sound in the true sense that it is “popular” music, listened to and sung every day by Tamasheq youth.
The group’s 2011 release Aratan N Azawad, was a Songlines Top of the World disc praised by the likes of the Financial Times, Uncut Magazine, fRoots and Rhapsody. It was also recently included in Songlines’s Top 25 Mali Albums. Their latest album Kel Tamasheq, produced by Justin Adams, topped the World Music Charts Europe for three months in 2012 and received rave reviews from Songlines, The Observer, The Independent, The Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago, among others.
The group toured in the U.S. in the spring of 2013 (with drummer Mathias Vagunez of Akeikoi), and played several shows at SXSW, for which they were featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered and National Geographic Music.
Liya Ag Ablil (Diara) - guitars, vocals
Sanou Ag Ahmed - guitars, vocals
Abdallah Ag Ahmed - bass, guitar, vocals