Release Date: Feb 10, 2017
Record label: City Slang
Genre(s): Soul, Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, Alternative/Indie Rock, Afro-beat
A imed at the heart and the feet, the release of Sinkane's new album couldn't be more timely. Keen to make socially conscious music suffused with joy, band leader Ahmed Gallab houses his succinct lyrics in upbeat Afro-funk (the luminous U'Huh, built around a simple mantra of "We're all going to be all right"), sun-kissed post-rock (Favourite Song) and, on the pulsating Telephone, the sort of galloping alternative dance music you hope LCD Soundsystem are still capable of. This being 2017, however, unease seeps in; Deadweight is an ominous-sounding opener sugared by some lovely falsetto, while the lilting, reggae-tinged Won't Follow deals with loss but ends with Gallab sweetly crooning "I feel new".
C ult Nigerian electro-funkster William Onyeabor, whose 70s and 80s music experienced a renaissance in recent years, sadly died last month, but he has a spiritual successor in Ahmed Gallab, AKA Sinkane. Gallab's time leading the Atomic Bomb! Band - in which he and guest members such as Damon Albarn and David Byrne reinterpreted Onyeabor's music for a world tour - has had a clear influence on this, his sixth record. The Brooklyn native was always a purveyor of soulful global-pop, but here he is fully sunny-side-up, harnessing Onyeabor's pop positivism, and blending Afrobeat, supple whammy-funk and shimmering krautrock to vibrant effect.
If any artist deserves to swerve around a borderless Earth with a real World Passport, it's the London-born, Sudanese artist Ahmed Gallab. Listen to his catalog under the Sinkane moniker and you'll hear fragments of sub-Saharan pop, shoegaze, afro-rock, electronica, krautrock, and everything in between--all melded into his own funky blend. Jumping into Sinkane's discography is like a weekend immersed in your local record store's world music rack.
Ahmed Gallab had already fashioned a worldly musical formula of pop sounds filtered through an old school funk and Afrobeat aesthetic, but with Life & Livin' It, the Brooklyn-based artist, under the name Sinkane, has further refined it. Running a relatively short nine songs, Sinkane's sixth full-length freely dabbles in Krautrock, jazz and existential musings on positivity. The project weaves in and out of its polyrhythmic styles in an effortlessly breezy manner: "Won't Follow" rides a laid-back Afrobeat groove, "Favorite Song" envelopes listeners in its warmth while delivering a political message, "Telephone" offers up a synth rock throwback and "U'Huh" steps high with its horn-driven stride.
Sinkane, aka Ahmed Gallab, has picked up where he left off with 2014's Mean Love. On that record, he distilled his many influences into a coherent pop collection that embraced genres such as post-rock, Afrobeat, and soul. It was a marked progression in a career that revolved around his role as music director of the supergroup Atomic Bomb! Band, and as a session musician for such diverse artists as Caribou, Yeasayer, and Eleanor Friedberger until he embarked on his own solo recordings.
Sinkane has always aspired towards the universal. After all, it's his entire life story: real name Ahmed Gallab, he was born in London, spent his early childhood in Sudan before coming of age in America. It's definitely there in the music. 'Life & Livin' It' is the songwriter's sixth full length, a journey that has taken him across the globe via his heady blend of West African rhythm, Sudanese pop, indie songwriting, and analogue electronics.