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Album Review

Terakaft – “Akh Issudar” – [World Village]

ArtCrimes   3/18/2009   CD, International

With Tuareg band Tinariwen having achieved worldwide fame, numerous other groups from the Western African desert region have garnered attention as well. This one is a Mali-based Tinariwen spinoff, with two members coming from that group, so it’s no surprise that this music is instantly familiar: the not-quite-blues guitar with spidery phrasing, the camel-inspired rhythms, handclapping, and the vocal interplay. All the Tuareg groups follow this model to some degree, but the distinctions come with how many people are involved, and what instruments they feature. Terakaft (the name translates as “Caravan”) has a core of only four musicians, with a more open, less percussive sound than the much larger Tinariwen group. The focus here really is on the guitars, which have become, for the Tuaregs, a symbol of resistance. In a way, the Tuareg groups all play “protest music” to serve the Tuareg separatist movement. Tuaregs first adopted acoustic Western-tuned guitars for their portability, allowing them to perform anywhere, anytime. This is very different from the Malian guitar styles that use non-Western tuning to echo traditional Malian instruments. Now that they are a working group, Terakaft’s guitars reflect more of the influence of the Western world, but the notes played could come from nowhere else than the Sahara. (crimes)

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