Friday, May 02, 2008

Band of the Week


When does inspiration come to you? Are you listening? How do you know when you have discovered something? Laying in bed, exhausted after a complex day, your mind pulses and spins with thought as you decompress. Suddenly a phase appears or an image or a sound, you pause but continue to try and sleep. Yet it appears again maybe a little brighter or stronger or more flushed out, and in that moment have to choose whether or not you will get up and preserve this flash or fall asleep oblivious. To create you must be in tune with your mind and body, and they both must be focused and alert at all times.

This is what happened to Ahmed Gallab (a.k.a. Sinkane) one night, and ultimately this brief moment of inspiration resulted in his debut ep Color Voice. However, to go from that little spark to the completion of a album takes a lot of hard work. Especially when you play most of the instrument yourself. Sinkane is a multi-instrumentalist who has combined drums, drone, feedback, horn, reverse guitar, and more to create a ep that new jazz masterpiece. He learned the ropes playing in basements and backyards on DIY tours playing drums in hardcore bands. It is also this background that allowed Ahmed to recently fill in for Caribou's injured drummer. Color Voice is an ever-building journey filled with complex rhythms and well placed horns.

Recently, Sinkane was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Color Voice has the sound and feel of an improvised piece much like '70's era Miles Davis. Was this originally written as a 30 minute piece with four movements or did it evolve into what it is today? How long it take to record, seeing that you played most of the parts yourself?
Ahmed Gallab (AG): I wrote the backing drone track late one night last summer. I had come home after seeing some friends and was completely sleep deprived. I was in limbo between a state of consciousness and unconsciousness.

Initially, I was just going to release Color Voice as that backing track by itself but as I would listen to it I would find different things to add onto the track. Slowly I started to look at that thing at four different angles. I started working around the drone. It was like this tangible ghost that wouldn't move and I had to figure out how to create around it. Those angles soon became the four songs.
It didn't take very long to record it, actually. I work very quickly when I am inspired. Mark Himmel (who engineered and helped produce the record) was a big help. He made it easy for me to let my ideas flow seamlessly. Being in a studio can be very overwhelming when you're playing all the instruments. Mark was very patient with me and that was very important.

OA: There were 500 picture discs and 500 180 gram white vinyl records pressed of Color Voice. In your opinion, why has vinyl remained such a viable format? Is it sound quality, size, nostalgia, collectablilty?
AG: I think people miss having something that they can call their own. Something physical. Something tangible. A solid piece of art. cd's are so disposable. it's so easy to throw a cd in the back seat of your car and forget about it. everything about vinyl is great. album art is so much more beautiful on vinyl, sound quality is better because you have to really take good care of your records. I feel so much more connected to records because I feel like I have a beautiful piece of work in my position. it's hard to connect with cds like that.

OA: It is not fully apparent on Color Voice, but you also have an interest in hip hop, having worked with both with Blueprint (Soul Position) and Dj Abilities (Eyedea & Abilities). Are there any other hip hop projects in the works? What brought you together with these guys from Ryhmesayer?
AG: We all met at a show Blueprint hosted in Columbus a couple of years ago. I was playing that show with a project that I have with my friend Evan called Pompeii, This Morning. I love hip hop. I'm so drawn to it because it's so different from what I do. it's such a binary music. everything is either on or off. What's interesting about it, though, is how people can find dynamics within that and really create some great music. I'm absolutely inspired by both Abilities and Blueprint. I've learned so much from them. Abilities and I locked ourselves in a room for a week with our friend Felix and played music every day for 10 hrs straight. It was incredible. That'll manifest into something soon, hopefully.

OA: You recently were faced with the honor and challenge of filling in for the injured Brad Weber of Caribou. Of all the bands you could of filled in for, Caribou has some very complex drum patterns. What was that experience like?
AG: Playing in Caribou has been one of the great experiences of my life. I love that band so much. In fact, the only reason we know each other is because I gave Dan my record at one of his shows last October. The drum patterns are pretty complicated. Luckily I've ripped him off so many times that some of the parts were familiar. I've learned a lot from these guys. They are painfully professional and goofy at the same time. I was afraid that I would come on this tour and run into some serious characters but it's the complete opposite. We all fart out loud in the van and we're so close now that I can tell who farted just by the smell. Dan's farts are pretty wild: really woody with some hazelnut notes. Mine on the other hand are just absolutely spicy. I kind of like them but I doubt you would.

OA: You left Sudan at age 6, have you gone back since? Do you feel your time there has influenced your music in anyway?
AG: I usually go back to Sudan every 1-2 years for at least one month. I never really embraced my heritage until I graduated high school and went back to visit. Every visit prior to that I took for granted. I was young and didn't realize who I was and felt like hanging out with my friends was more important than my family.

Recently, my culture and heritage has heavily influenced my music. You'll hear that on my new record.

OA: What's next for Ahmed Gallab and Sinkane?
AG: I really want to see a blue whale. I mean seriously. I want to go on a cruise and see a blue whale. It'd also be kind of tight if i could somehow get video taped of me playing a white flying V guitar on top of a blue whale while it's swimming on the water surface.

Color Voice (The CD is out now, Picture Disc and Vinyl to be released May 6th)

Thick Device/Color Voice (mp3)/Autobahn/Drumps

For more information on Sinkane please visit his website or blog and to purchase Color Voice go to Emergency Umbrella Records.

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