Ahmed Gallab, better known as Sinkane, has recorded his eighth studio album, “We Belong,” which, like his previous releases, resists genre classification.

After releasing seven studio albums, it would have been easy for Ahmed Gallab the multi-instrumentalist who records as Sinkane to believe he knew everything necessary about making music. Instead, commendably, he enrolled on a masters course in composition at SUNY Purchase. The course honed both his composing and listening skills as each week he would take a song from old favourites such as David Bowie, Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane to his tutor and they would hear the notes anew, a process that enabled Gallab to understand both how music and he worked. The rewards of that learning process are apparent in his most dynamic and consistently high-quality album, ‘We Belong’, a community focused, collaborative record on which Gallab could concentrate on being a producer.

That sense of community is apparent in the lyrics produced in unison with Amanda Khiri, passing notes across the digital divide, utilising bits of Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed and scraps of poetry, containing a sense of struggle but also celebration of black identity.

“We are just as important as everyone else. This message has become so important to me because so many people want to tell us that we don’t belong. That’s why I’ve really immersed myself in this community and these cultures and the music. It grounded me, helped me to find myself and I understood: I belong too”, said Sinkane.

He describes the album as his love letter to Black music and it is a mish mash of styles, an assemblage of the best bits, mixing elements of 70s and 80s New York (his current home) with the rhythms of his native Sudan.

Genre diversity

Sinkane plays pop, funk and electronic music. It blends the gritty punk newness of a 70s and 80s New York with the steady, foundational soul of the rhythms of his native Sudan. Though We Belong comes deep into the catalog of a long career, it also resists stagnation. It moves and travels—through words and eras, through emotion and healing.

Gallab calls this album his “love letter to Black music,” and each track pulses with the energy of different eras and forms: the gospel-soaked “Everything Is Everything,” the dreamy, Quiet Storm-influenced Afro-beats of “Rise Above,” the 70s-funk of “We Belong” and its Sly Stone influence, the Stevie Wonder-edged “Another Day”—they tell a story about Black music and Black people

Hard times

The title track epitomises his pursuit of funky excellence, channelling visions of Prince at his most extroverted. In the wrong hands it could feel like a retro exercise, but Sinkane continually worked with purpose – this time finding lyrical splendour in the works of English poet Alexander Pope. He comments…

This one is about the never-ending quest for finding community and refuge in our greatest resource: each other. A fuzzy, funky gospel ode to the infinity loop that we call ‘hard times.’

I wrote the lyrics after reading Alexander Pope’s poem An Essay on Criticism. Specifically after reading the line, ‘To err is human, to forgive divine.’ How beautiful is that? ‘Errare Humane Est.’ We are all flawed and that is ok. Just don’t be a dick about it, ok? STOUT really flexes on this one.

The last few days have been quite eventful for interesting albums. We’ve seen new releases from Vampire Weekend, Khruangbin, De-Phazz and more. But this time, it’s this title that gets the most space in the “Album of the Week” section. We will be happy to present it to you in our broadcast on Mixcloud platform.

NMR (photo: press Sinkane)