By Bunmi Akpata-Ohohe
Formed in 2001 and hailing from Mali, a landlocked nation in West Africa, the Tuareg band Terakaft (meaning “The Caravan” in their mother tongue) are regarded as the forerunners of desert rock/desert blues. The group are back with a new album, their fifth, titled Ténéré, which translates to Alone. All nine tracks in Alone will delight both aficionados of African music and newcomers to the genre, with their immense talent and fresh vibes, firmly rooted in tradition. The album expresses the kind of feeling and emotion that can’t be summoned up by commission in a studio. Also, it is an extremely personal nine-song discussion of love and identity which is what you want from a singing/songwriting group. According to the press statement by ilkamedia, the group’s music PR Alone was born out of “a need to maintain sanity in times of broken dreams and lies. It might be their most rock oriented album to date but at the same time it is their most poetic.”
It fuses the rhythms of Afrobeat, hi-life and that deep Saharan mesmeric rhythm into one infectious whole. It has the kind of poetic self-reflection of the pre-war years of Mali. “There are too many characters in the picture, too many chiefs and not enough people“, says Liya ag Ablil (aka Diara: guitar and vocals), when asked about the political developments in his country in the last years of conflict that only ended in December 2014. Diara used to sing political songs back in the days of his rebel youth when he was still playing guitar with Tinariwen, a Grammy award winning group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. Critics have pigeon-holed their songs as protest songs and protest vibes. Call it what you will, but Terakaft just keeps doing dazzling music and dazzling political stuff. It’s like they are a piece of equipment – always finding some novel issues to sing about.
These Malian desert blues legends are a band that must be seen live in all its amazing fierceness. They make their return to London for their album launch gig on 29th April 2015 at the intimate arts space Rich Mix venue.
35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA