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10/01/2015
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TERAKAFT ALONE (TENERE) (OutHere OH28)

The Desert Blues played by Tuareg from Niger has turned into an Afrobeat-like fad. Every label has a band from Niger and, other than Bombino, they all sound alike to me. However I thought I had better listen to the new one from Terakaft because Mark Hudson, who knows his stuff, wrote in the Daily Telepath that "Terakaft's sound is the starkest and most compelling excursion yet into the sonic world of the Sahara." They are a splinter group from Tinariwen, their sound is pretty raw and has different rhythms on it, not just the repetitious washing machine thud and skirling guitars. It starts off with an old A-minor to E-minor vamp that lopes along with the lyrics "It is hard to remain without a camel, no water except in a deep hole." OK. The next song tells us, "Some are in the sun, some are in the shade." The vocals sound like a complaint, which would make sense if you were the one in the sun. One song ends another begins with a wiry lead guitar over the thrumming percussion. Track seven breaks out of the monotony a bit with an uptempo song about a "well-trained and nicely decorated camel." It sounds like country and western music. Justin Adams produced and adds bits of guitar and percussion. According to Wikipedia, Justin "is an English guitarist and composer who works in blues and African styles." He has played with Jah Wobble and Robert Plant, so it's safe to say he has not played with everyone from King Sunny Adé to Ali Farka Touré. I imagine if you saw Terakaft live and inhaled a lot of passive pot the repetition would be soothing, especially if the vocal mikes were turned down. Fans of "desert blues" guitar will gobble it up like stoneless dates.