Thursday, June 2, 2011

CD Review: Terakaft's 'Aratan N Azawad'

Aratan N Azawad

The Malian blues guitar group follows up their 2008 release of Akh Issudar (World Village) with a solid Aratan N Azawad. The album's title means 'children of the azawad'. The azawad is the Sahelian region of Tamasheq-speaking Tuaregs in Mali, Algeria, and Niger. The group's name is translated as 'caravan'. The nomadic references reflected in the name of the group and the Sahelian cultural influence is also marked by a few other similar groups from the region, including Tinariwen, Toumast, Tartit, Tamikrest, and others. Terakaft's songs are pleasant and carefully brewed with the finest Saharan sounds to emanate from the sands. Overall, the music is slightly stripped down from their Malian counterparts, most notably, Tinariwen. Additionally, the Tamasheq vocals are relatively rare in recorded music today. Thankfully, one can appreciate and even learn, or at the very least, pronounce this fine language as the songs become more familiar with each listen. The songs range from two-and-a-half to five minutes in length. The characteristic handclaps, bluesy guitar riffs, and light percussion secure Terakaft's presence in the Saharan music scene. Music is more than purely performance; it is a way of life that shines brighter than the desert sun! ~ Matthew Forss

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