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. 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.

The album starts with a bang, the euphoric electro funk of ‘Come Together’, sounding both modern and authentic. For all its talk of fragmented nations and “lived in many houses / none of them of our own”, it is a buoyant call to unity. The album is a collection of fantastic voices and musicianship. ‘Another Day’, featuring Bilal and STOUT, has a Stevie Wonder edge, while mixing in elements of dub and gospel to its howl of frustration (“How many of us have to die? / And if there is a God up in the sky / Why is it us that you sacrifice?”)  ‘Rise Above’ is quiet storm Afrobeats with a steely determination to surmount obstacles.

Tru Osbourne guests on two tracks: ‘Invisible Distance’ with its jazz soul swing and the orchestrated ‘Everything Is Everything’ which moves from shimmering sigh to gospel emoting and echoes of Bobby Womack’s classic ‘Across 110th Street’. The song details the challenges of living in a black body, learning to read rooms and wear masks: the entertainer, pacifier, comforter. Whatever the challenges, there is a sense of positivity (“The tides of change / Serve great purpose in our every day / My people, we will find our way.”)

The title track recalls Sly and the Family Stone in its anthemic mix of funk, soul and rock while the lyrics are about the quest for community and were inspired by reading Alexander Pope’s poem, ‘An Essay on Criticism’, specifically the line “to err is human / to forgive is divine.” The soul gospel chorus reaches ever more exhilarating heights. The mood is maintained with ‘How Sweet Is Your Love’ which booms with characteristics of the best 70s disco, insistent rhythm, big horns and an even larger, more infectious chorus. As they sing of turning water into wine, it is a soundtrack to which even the most self-conscious person would be prancing around the living-room and is about living in the present while feeling all your emotions to the maximum.

After that run of euphoria, ‘Liming’ represents a necessary dip in pace with its relaxed Afrobeats and the mantra, “I don’t stress cos I know Ima be fine”. Hollie Cook guests on ‘Home’, a chilled dub reggae cruise with some lovely bursts of melodica, luxuriating in its roots while accepting “home is wherever you are”. STOUT adds her vocals to closing track, ‘The Anthem’, a beautifully measured jazz funk piece celebrating “I love being black”, a neat summary of the album’s uplifting and empowering sentiments.

Sinkane: We Belong – Out 5th April 2024 (City Slang)

– We Belong (Lyric Video) (

I was editor of the long-running fanzine, Plane Truth, and have subsequently written for a number of publications. While the zine was known for championing the most angular independent sounds, performing in recent years with a community samba percussion band helped to broaden my tastes so that in 2021 I am far more likely to be celebrating an eclectic mix of sounds and enthusing about Made Kuti, Anthony Joseph, Little Simz and the Soul Jazz Cuban compilations as well as Pom Poko and Richard Dawson.