Label: DFA Records
Sinkane’s Ahmed Gallab discusses his early Sudanese upbringing as one of many influences on his music, and it’s certainly detectable all over “Mars.” The track “Warm Spell” distinguishes itself with an interesting, sinuous guitar sound that evokes what Westerners tend to think of as an “African” guitar sound—of course, the field of African guitar music is so rich and spread over so many countries that it’s difficult to just slap on that adjective without feeling at least a bit racist. Indeed, Gallab also suggests that West African music is present as an influence, a good reminder that pinning down the African sound of some of these tracks to his Sudanese origins is a mistake.
As with Yeasayer, the band that Gallab drums in, this is music that is informed by a writer who has listened to everything and taken bites from multiple genres and artists. Some of Gallab’s choices work better than others; the processed vocals on “Lady C’mon” and “Making Time” are interesting at first, evoking Giorgio Moroder as opposed to the auto-tuned masses of Top 40, but soon become dull and repetitive. Gallab’s voice is thickly reverbed on other songs, such as the excellent “Jeeper Creeper,” to good effect. He’s largely successful in his attempt at blending genres to create something new(ish) that is still quite familiar. It’s not always clear exactly where he’s drawing particular textures or songwriting ideas from, which must be evidence of originality. Bowie famously called himself a “tasty thief” when describing the way he blended influence to create something new. In the best moments of “Mars,” Sinkane manages to accomplish this as well.