Bands to Watch 2008

Sinkane

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From the Sinkane edition

After years of playing drums in groups such as experimental electronic outfit Pompeii, This Morning and post-hardcore battalion Sweetheart, Ahmed Gallab has established a reputation as one of Columbus' best musicians. But when those bands stalled out about a year ago, he found himself a musical free agent with a serious case of writer's block.

"I felt like I wasn't really creative anymore," said Gallab, 24.

He soon realized he had placed too many boundaries on himself and his music. He hadn't run out of ideas - he merely had worn out the narrow confines he was allowing himself to explore. Embarking on a new solo project under the name Sinkane, he decided to ditch his preconceptions and let his muse wander where it may.

"I was going to do whatever I wanted, and I wasn't going to be afraid of what was going to come out of it," he said.

The result was a sprawling, spaced-out composition in four movements called Color Voice.

Based on a shimmering keyboard loop that repeats throughout the piece, the record seamlessly blends genres from rock to jazz to ambient to Afrobeat. Over the course of half an hour, it basks in a shapeless haze of keyboards and guitar, bounds through a funhouse of horns, escalates to a sublime rock climax and finishes with a startling barrage of percussion.

Gallab finished recording in July. By September, he had assembled a band and hit the road. By December, he solidified a deal with Missouri's Emergency Umbrella Records to release Color Voice nationwide this April. He'll have Sinkane's spring tour dates nailed down soon.

Some bands might linger around town honing their craft before taking such assertive steps, but Gallab sees little reason to wait. "I can't really expand or take this as far as it can go if I only play here," he said.

Gallab isn't sure what will happen after the spring tour, but he intends to record a second Sinkane album as soon as possible. Expect eight to 10 tracks leaning closer to pop but drawing from the repetitious tradition of composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. And prepare for a lot more singing.

"It's going to be a really long record," Gallab proclaimed.

Suffice it to say, the writer's block is gone.