Sunday, November 09, 2008

TERAKAFT - Akh Issudar (IRL)

It’s no coincidence that this spare, soulful recording feels like a natural bedfellow for Tinariwen’s atmospheric debut album, The Radio Tisdas Sessions, because Terakaft founders Kedou Ag Ossad and Diara are former Tinariwen band members themselves and thus deploy a similar clanking reverbed electric guitar sound backed by itchy acoustic guitar strums, droning bass and eerie, swaying call and response vocals. This is a sombre campfire session of an album, one song seeding satisfyingly into the next in a sonic framework that evokes the enveloping blanket of desert darkness rather than the loping camel gait drive that's to be heard on the two most recent Tinariwen releases.
From the haunting, murmured introduction to the cool, acoustic guitar and bass driven closing track, this is a coherent collection of songs that possess deep, bluesy tones and a natural rhythm (there's no percussion other than a restrained use of hand-claps), and at its best it's about as good as Tuareg desert blues gets.
Amdagh in particular deserves to join the pantheon - the guitars swim and swirl round Kedou's dense, dry vocals with a rumbling bass groove driving a powerful circular, accelerating rhythm. And Leg Assistane Dagh Aitma is typically Tuareg in both sound and philosophy (“Question to my brothers: shall we remain passive or take action?”). This and much else on Akh Issudar will probably appeal most to listeners who prefer where Tinariwen have come from to where they are headed – on the desert blues spectrum, Terakaft sit around midpoint between the rebel rock of the desert blues brand leaders and the spacious spirituality of Tartit – but wherever you put them, this tight and moody album is an assured and welcome addition to the genre.

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