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World Music CD Reviews Africa


By Robert Kaye
Published September 25, 2008

Akh Issudar
World Village

On its second album, the Malian group Terakaft (“The Caravan” in Tamashek), enjoy the tutelage and experience of producer Jean-Paul Romann, of the popular French supergroup Lo’Jo. Great production skills notwithstanding, the studio album captures the earthy chants, ululations and call-response vocals so preeminent in North African music. In spite of using electronic guitars and bass, the album retains a decided organic feel, born of searing desert afternoons and cool, breeze-caressed evenings. “Soubhanallah” is an almost bluesy shuffle, at times sounding like a New Orleans funeral dirge. “Djer Aman” shows off the quintet’s vibrancy, with its quick-footed, double-time rhythm. The songs are punctuated by drone-like bass lines, imaginative guitar playing and plaintive chanting. Missing is the use of any percussion instruments a curious orchestration omission, especially given the region’s vibrant rhythms and instrumentation including qarqabas, dumbeq, frame drums, riqs and more. Still, the strong male vocals and three well-played guitars give it plenty of substance.