music

« March 15, 2013

Terakaft

SXSW showcase reviews
Review by Jim Caligiuri
photo by Jana Birchum

Terakaft

Speakeasy, Friday, March 15

Not unexpectedly, some of the members of Malian band Terakaft, which means caravan in their native language Tamasheq, had visa problems and weren't able to make it into the United States. The two lead forces behind the group, guitarists/vocalists Samou Ag Ahmed and Liya Ag Ablil, arrived in Austin, however, and were aided live by their bus driver cum bass player Manny Flores. Dressed in traditional black garb that only exposed their hands and faces, Terakaft performed what they refer to as desert rock and blues, a reflection of the stark atmosphere of their Sahara desert homeland. An offshoot of the better known Tinariwen, the trio laid out five trance grooves, embodied by pulsing bass, almost click-track precise rhythm guitar, single-note guitar solos, and vocal harmonies that seemed imploring for something better than desert life. Truthfully, the lyrical content was a barrier to enjoying this music. One song found the lead duo bouncing and smiling as if to urge the crowd toward a happy space without much success. Still, what was offered was close to what Terakaft sounds like on record, minus the heartbeat percussion that makes their sound intricate.

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