“Mars” attacks, falters, then wins

by Spencer Doar


Sinkane’s new album “Mars” runs about 34 minutes which would breeze by if not for one small, but glaring, problem.  There’s this pesky flute that keeps cropping up in the final tracks.  Songs in the beginning of the album have a riveting pulse—the rhythm section is tight and fluid with a old-school feel.  In those moments the syncopation of funk works.    

Then, coinciding with the presence of more flute, the album gets a little too experimental and jazzy.  The compositions are technically impressive but not conducive to good, listenable music.  Some may call it explorative or freewheeling when it really is just self-indulgent. 

The upside resides in main man multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Gallab, who has clearly left his stamp on a quirky funk product that only has a few questionable additions on later songs.  If some moments were more in the cut, with a little less traffic, this album would be great.

"Mars" will be officially released on Oct. 23, but NPR is streaming it through its First Listen feature right now. It is definitely worth the time just for the retro vibe and overall seething percussion of the first 24 minutes.