Sinkane with Helado Negro Details
Sinkane with Helado Negro
Melodically beat-driven and meditatively lyrical, Sinkane’s Mean Love rolls like an emotional, existential history of the artist. Ahmed Gallab has created an altogether unique compound of sound, stylistically nostalgic and ultramodern at the same time. From Gallab’s childhood in Sudan there is a Pan-African influence of popular Sudanese music and haqibah, as well as distinct horn and synth arrangements more common to East Africa. After fleeing Sudan when his father– a journalist and politician – was exiled following a military coup in 1989, Ahmed was faced with a stark contrast when he moved to the predominantly white, Mormon center of Provo, Utah. While this and a subsequent move to Ohio caused a further sense of alienation in a young Gallab, it was also part of the inspiration for the path he walks as an artist. This background merges with the lessons learned from Ahmed‘s stints with obsessive craftsmen such as Caribou, Yeasayer and Of Montreal, and especially the monumental task he underwent as musical director of ‘ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor.’ Gallab excavated and arranged a treasure trove of lost classics from the West African synth-pioneer to put together a now legendary series of performances. Alongside his band-mates in Sinkane (jaytram on drums, Ish Montgomery on bass, Jonny Lam on guitar), he also brought on guests Damon Albarn, David Byrne, The Lijadu Sisters, Money Mark and members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and Blood Orange.
The experiences from this on-going endeavor contribute to the collective feel of the record. It is Gallab’s uncanny ability to embrace and assemble a huge history as pure and generous modern-musical expressions. The funky, infectious brasslines of “New Name,” as well as the Equatorial “Young Trouble” are prime examples of the incredible aptitude of Sinkane’s songwriting. Employing the architecture of pop, and a forward-thinking approach to its classic instrumentation, the vibes of Sinkane’s deep-groove past remain intact, in full force. We could lay down a bunch of extra buzzwords to this collection, of course; there are doses of West African funk slow-burners, a noir blaxploitation cool, and a more afro-centric Curtis Mayfield is present, specifically in album standout “Hold Tight.” In the end, these songs GIVE, and its up to you to take what you want.
The son of Ecuadorean immigrants, Helado Negro was born in South Florida in 1980. His childhood was suffused with tropical heat, humidity, hurricanes, all refracted with the rich sounds and colors of the various Latin American cultures of southern Florida. Pounding bass beats from passing cars, boom boxes bouncing down the block, and late-night parties called “peñas” provided a foundation for Helado Negro’s interest in sound and lifelong quest to discover the unlimited variety of objects used to produce music. Most recently he created a new collaborative group with Julianna Barwick called OMBRE releasing their debut album in 2012 called Believe You Me. Helado Negro has worked with Bear in Heaven mixing their Pitchfork’s Best New Music album Beast Rest Forth Mouth. He also produced Prefuse 73‘s 2010 album Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian.
If that was not enough, Helado Negro’s other projects include ROM, Epstein, and Helado Negro. Epstein is Helado Negro’s “beats and loops” project, a friendly beast born of the MPC sampler. Epstein’s wildly prolific output, including a series of digital releases, full-lengths, and a remix album, is a gauzy, sunny kind of dancemusic that references DJ mixing, summertime blockparties, and mellow compositional noise. Helado Negro came together when Helado Negro moved to New York in 2006 (he now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn home). The early group concept grew through projects and experiments Roberto would conduct while recording himself and others in his home studio. Loops, computer synthesis, record samples, and live instruments provided the foundation for the first full-length, Awe Owe, a vibrant, shimmering, full-band Latin psyche-funk-folk epic.