Sinkane – Mars

The multi-dimensional music project from Ahmad Gallab released its debut album this month. Sinkane has released Mars – an electronic mix of smooth, jazz inspired world beats with a twist.

Sinkane triumphs in bringing forward the idea that we now all live in a world where music is becoming as globalised as our cultures. Mars is a fantastic blend of influences from around the world. With Gallab originating from Sudan, Sinkane manages to capture the essence of the Sudanese culture with a mix of different musical styles from around the world such as jazz, folk and electro.

Mars isn’t something you can easily slip into; it takes a few listens to become immersed in how wonderful this musical journey is. Gallab is known in the music industry for having been the touring multi-instrumentalist for Of Montreal, Caribou, Born Ruffians and Eleanor Friedberger but this wasn’t the start of his music career. Gallab’s family left Sudan when he was young, immigrated to the US and moved all over the country. He found his first musical community in Kent’s (Ohio) low-key post-hardcore scene.

Sinkane Mars

Album artwork for Mars

Gallab called his project Sinkane after mishearing the name Joseph Cinqué, the man who led the Amistad Rebellion. During J. Ivy’s verse on Kanye West’s ‘Never Let Me Down’ Gallab misheard “Cinqué” as “Sinkane”. Gallab said: “I always figured it was some monolithic African god like Shaka Zulu or something.”  He soon realised he was wrong but the name stuck anyway.

The Sudanese multi-instrumentalist plays at least four instruments on every track on the album which fully showcases his abilities as a composer and a performer. He also enlists the help of some top musicians including a screaming guitar solo from George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow as well as contributions from Ira Wolf Tuton (Yeasayer), Oliver Chapoy (Shai Halud), Roberto Lange (Savath & Savathas, Helado Negro), members of Afrobeat band Nomo, and saxophonist/flautist Casey Benjamin aka stutzmcgee.

The live band consists of Gallab on guitar, keys and vocals, Jason “Jaytram” Trammell on drums and vocals, Mikey Freedom Hart on guitar, keys and vocals, and Mike Montgomery on bass and vocals so there’s a fair old mix of musicians contributing to the musical project that is Sinkane.

Mars has some fabulous sounds on it which help to produce a relaxed and at other times party record. Lovesick is a favourite. The flute in the background and the trumpet towards the end bring forward the folk and jazz influences while lending themselves perfectly to the Arabic sounds and rhythms heard faintly behind. It’s a combination that could fail to work but somehow sounds more than perfect in this track. Another superb track is the weird and wonderful Mars. It’s an instrumental track that has every odd sound in it, no real rhythm or melody yet it works well. It’s the most experimental piece on the album.

The first half of the album feels more like the electro party tracks you would want playing at a house party while the second half of the record lends itself to a more relaxed atmosphere. Warm Spell is a lovely, easy to listen to song and Caparundi is a great track to finish on. It makes it feel like the record concludes peacefully.

Sinkane is something you will either love or hate, a bit like marmite. But also like marmite, you have to give it a go just to find out.

Mars is out now.

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