Sinkane – Sinkane


Sinkane - Sinkane

Ahmed Gallab, who records under the name Sinkane, has an impressive resume as a drummer (Of Montreal , Caribou, Born Ruffians). However, his new self-titled album, Sinkane, sounds not at all like any version of Of Montreal, only sparingly sounds like Born Ruffians, and if you stretch it, sounds somewhat like Caribou. Built from guitar, bass, drums, voice, keys, and the occasional horn, this record sounds more insistent and out there than those more succinct artists. It’s an impressive testament to Gallab’s vision and talent, as he composed and played the majority of the music on this album himself. If you make it through the whole thing, it’s also a testament to your endurance as a listener because it demands a lot by being busy and bombastic without being particularly complex or varied, and it really never lets up in intensity.

Gallab uses the limited pallet mentioned above to create a seriously persistent, psychedelic journey. The guitar is stuck on wah wah, playing simple licks and atmospheres throughout, and when not being over-wahed, usually is played with some other sort of deeply phased effect. The result is something between snake charming and surf guitar lines which sound reminiscent of early Stereolab, but do little to excite. The bass most often simply drives straight ahead, changing to a different note every fourth measure or so. The drums are recorded loud, slappy, and high in the mix, and are one of the more enjoyable parts of the record.

Gallab takes a maximalist approach, trying to fill pretty much every space with as much sound as possible, which is an admirable approach. Unfortunately, the limited pallet leaves this record sounding samey most of the way through. You could walk away from the stereo after the first five minutes and return anywhere during the next 25 minutes and think you mistakenly left one song on repeat. Opening track “Desert Blues” is three minutes of rumbling and spacey buildup that might be meant as a soft landing welcome, but which really doesn’t do anything interesting musically. The next three or four tracks have some high moments (“Blown”’s mind-searing guitar solo which arrives shortly after the 9:00 mark, the hypnotic, rave-up climax of “Apache Beat”) but the songs are built from middling rhythmic and atmospheric elements that carry the songs along but do very little else. “White Light” has the nicest build-up of the album going, but inexplicably ends before the 4:00 mark before a payoff is even attempted.

On the final two of seven tracks, Gallab finally provides some much-needed variety. “Big Sky” starts with a repetitive xylophone-sounding pattern accented by chilly synths which then breaks into a noise freak out. The noise subsides and the song continues with the original pattern, this time with two drummers playing heavy on different beats against a slower bit of softly played vibes, before freaking out again, and then pounding away until the end. Why couldn’t this have been the track that ran over ten minutes? The final track, “Really Hot But Pretty Awesome” eases the album out on a slow-motion stoner tip with harmonized vocals, jazzy drumming, Rhodes, and stretched out wah wah chords, and achieves a depth lacking in most of what came before.

This album definitely suffers from poor sequencing. Cut the initial five tracks with the final two and the indistinguishable might have become distinguished. In this music, you can hear anything from Spiritualized to Stereolab to Brightblack Morning Light to Caribou. However, I think groups like Psychic Ills and later day Boredoms have done the same sort of thing with more vitality and ingenuity. Sinkane sounds vaguely like a lot of bands, but just ends up sounding vague. That said, Gallab’s an obvious talent with a lot of energy, and I look forward to hearing how he puts his next piece together.


Emergency Umbrella Records