The caravan is quintessential to the life of desert folk, enriching and connecting wherever it makes a stop. Terakaft, birthed out of the efforts of fellow Malian band Tinariwen, are a worthy courier bringing you the cheerful spirit of hope from the Sahara desert on inspiring rock guitar riffs, humbled percussion accompaniments and treasured native poetic lyrics.
The Imuhagh group’s fifth studio album Alone sees them collaborate with English guitarist/composer and desert blues aficionado, Justin Adams. Together they morph their sound into gritty rock rhythms that beg to live on the dance floor whilst staying true the their pioneering rhythm guitar scales and chords and folk, choral vocals. Alone captures the feeling of hope amidst troubled times in the groups home and creates an uplifting vibe. The nine track album was partly recorded in Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios guaranteeing a stellar cleanliness.
Alone opens with ANABAYOU (Awkward) and you’re immediately hit by swift and sweet blues and rock melodies being paced by 808 sounding percussions. Terakaft’s singing on this record corroborate their folk approach to the music containing a call and repeat vocal performance. From that point you get an expectant feeling of how warm and refreshing the rest of the project it going to be. The exhilarating guitar melodies and rousing chants follow through the whole body of work, depriving you of respite from this magnificent desert rock sound. However, the album has its somber moments; like on the song OULHIN ASNIN (My Heart Suffers) which feature scintillating solo blues guitaring. For a stranger to the Berber/ Touareg dialect, the song titles glimpsed a poetic depth, which is unsurprising given the vast experience Terakaft can draw on and the particular theme of hope they emphasis on the record. Alone closes with an eerie solo rendition of the opening song, ANABAYOU which further highlights the sheer brilliance of the composition on the album.
Terakaft employ an extremely dynamic use of the rhythm guitar along with their bass and percussion to carve a daring folk sound wrapped in the essence and allure of the Sahara. I particularly welcomed the minimalist approach to the drums as opposed to how they are traditionally used in rock music. All the songs on this project end abruptly, like a violently awakening to a pleasant dream. The last few seconds till the reverb fades made me wish for a return of the song, till the next begins.
In under 30 mins, Terakaft produce an infectious wandering sound set to colonize ears all over the world. The record barely has time to over or under indulge in It’s serenading and groovy rhythms. Amidst recent conflict in the Imuhagh’s home, Terakaft use their music to project the vibrancy of their culture and their lyrics to convey messages related to the personal strife they’ve faced and simultaneously draw attention to the political situation in their country. The music on Alone typifies the dynamic continent we love. Be sure to fall in love with the intimacy of the desert alone on this inspiring caravan.
Alone was released in May 2015 in Europe. The album will enjoy a U.S. and worldwide release on September 11th.