Review: Sinkane, Start the Bus

Sinkane-600x330Sinkane is one of those musicians who produces music which is, from a journalist’s viewpoint at least, frustratingly difficult to define. While many would blandly pigeonhole it as ‘World Music’, that simply will not do. Ohio’s Sinkane, alias Ahmed Gallab, used his debut album Mean Love to fuse elements of his native Sudanese pop with funk, jazz, shoegaze, tropicalia, reggae and electropop in a seemingly effortless manner. Having served time with Of Montreal, Yeasayer and Caribou, it’s fair to say he’s got good pedigree. Carrying on in the same vein, his gig at Bristol’s Start the Bus sees Sinkane switch between genres, at one point emphasising the dub elements of his work, while at other points segueing into the kind of AOR instrumentalism favoured by Matthew E. White. Funk elements are heightened by an un-cheesy wah-wah guitar, and the excellent closer, ‘How We Be’, is extended pleasingly. Sinkane does well on two fronts. Firstly, he and the rest of the proficient yet efficient band – excellent musicianship is often most evident when utilised with restraint – manage to extract the best sound possible from Start the Bus, a venue that sometimes suffers from poor acoustics. Secondly, They do well to inject even a moderate amount of energy into what is a sober, Tuesday night, overtly Lumbersexual crowd. Sinkane’s departing words, “thank you for sticking around,” are telling of a band rich in politeness and poor in rock ‘n’ roll excess. For some reason, when thinking of music venues in Bristol, Start the Bus is rarely one of the first that springs to mind. Considering the momentum that is gathering behind the live shows, hosting some of the best alternative music and unknown bands, this is some surprise. The stage setup also gives the venue a cosy atmosphere, while giving most audience members a pretty decent view of the band. Sinkane is just the latest addition to an increasingly strong gig calendar. 8/10 Conal Dougan P.s. The Fix should apologise to Sinkane for hogging the mensroom hand dryer ahead of him, but, y’know, ’tis the season of chapped skin.